At 2:50 p.m., Hector Gonzalez places his lunch in his locker and clocks into his job as a virtual guard at ECAMSECURE.
It was a Thursday evening, so he hopes that it would be fairly quiet on his 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift. He sits down at his workstation in the UL-certified monitoring center that is the hub of ECAMSECURE’s virtual security operations to start his day. From the central location, the virtual guards can monitor practically any camera system that can be connected to a modern video management system.
From the two computer monitors on the desk of the workstation, he manages security operations for 2 commercial sites. With a landline telephone and cell phone he, calls clients and local law enforcement to respond to verified alarms.
What Does a Virtual Security Guard Do?
Hector is one of the virtual guards who staff the U.S.-based call center, part of the growing trend in virtual security careers. The job is different than that of a traditional security guard. There’s no standing on your feet for hours in all kinds of weather, with hours of boredom punctuated by moments of intensity.
Instead, a virtual guard is a trained operator at a central station watching over a site remotely. The duties include conducting pre-determined guard tours to observe the location, keep an eye on lone workers and conducting virtual escorts.
Hector begins his shift by reading the daily operations memo to update him on ongoing incidents, contact information and anything else he needed to know to provide a high-quality level of service.
One of the first tasks is scheduling the virtual guard tours. Hector periodically checks in on assigned customers’ locations using the video camera feed from his desktop monitors.
Monitoring Virtual Security Alarms
During his virtual tours, he also has to react to any alarms triggered by the different types of sensors that are part the security system, and decide how best to respond. Hector has to determine which alarm has been triggered before he can address it. Each type of alarm has a post order, a set of instruction to follow. The alarm could be triggered by several types of sensors such as a motion sensor, photoelectric beam, or video analytics.
When an alarm sounds, Hector has to review all the notes pertaining to the job site. The instructions will tell him critical details including if the client is aware that someone will be on-site, or if the client has notified the monitoring center that an authorized person will be onsite after hours.
If the person is unauthorized, then Hector has to follow the posted orders for an alarm for that site. If an alarm will be treated as an intrusion because the client reports there is no authorized person on-site, then he video verifies the event. Hector switches his monitor to the video for that location and reviews the 10-second clip. He can review additional video if necessary. With the video, he can determine if it was an intruder, an authorized person that went on-site without notice, a false alarm, or another event such as a fire. The video verification dramatically reduces false alarms, saving clients time, money and frustration.
How Virtual Guards Work With Local Law Enforcement
If the situation requires contacting law enforcement as requested by the client, Hector stays on the line with the client until the incident is cleared by the police department. Hector then writes an incident report for the client files, and for review by Hector’s supervisor.
At 6:30 p.m., Hector takes his 30-minute lunch break. A trained “floating [virtual guard] operator” fills in to cover Hector’s desk while he’s away.
Virtual Guard Training
Before working at ECAMSECURE, Hector worked at a call center that handled customer service for a variety of clients. He wanted to build upon his customer service skills and began looking for virtual security jobs. ECAMSECURE was a top choice because it has a U.S.-based monitoring service center, rather than an offshore service that relies on low-cost of international labor. ECAMSECURE hires virtual security guards who speak English with native fluency. That’s helpful when conversing with emergency responders, as well as with clients. Virtual guards, like Hector, are also familiar with local law enforcement procedures to ensure any incidents receive a high-priority response.
In addition to his experience, Hector also took CSA Level 1 and Level 2 training to be a certified customer service advisor, and learn how to use the video recording tools and customer relationship management tools he needed for the job.
While virtual security jobs can be stressful because alarms may go off at any time, Hector likes the fast pace and unpredictability. He also appreciates the ongoing technical training that keeps his skills sharp and helps him deliver exceptional customer service.
A Virtual Security Guard’s Diary
- 8:52 p.m.: A motion detector alarm is triggered at a car dealership. Then it went off again. And again. It went off 10 times in 30 seconds, a good signal to Hector that the alarm was false. He switches to live on a camera for that location and sees a large cardboard box blowing against the perimeter fence in the high wind.
- 8:53 p.m.: Hector notifies the client about the problem and that the alarm will be suspended until the false alarm was dealt with.
- 10:37 p.m.: The motion detector alarm sounds at a construction site. The video verification system activates, sending Hector a 10-second video clip showing the video feed from a mobile surveillance unit. The video shows a man walking through the site. Hector switches to a live view from the PTZ camera atop the mobile surveillance unit. Hector zooms on the person’s face and used the two-way audio to ask him if was authorized to be there. The man looks up at the camera and starts rudely dancing, mocking Hector. Hector checks with his supervisor, who agreed the police should be called. Hector contacts the client as well to update him on the situation.
- 10:38 p.m.: Hector phones the local police department, giving them directions to the construction site, and helps them to find the man in the corner of the large site. Meanwhile, Hector keeps the man talking and dancing until the police arrived to make the arrest.
- 10:45 p.m.: Hector types up the incident report and updates his daily memo.
- 10:55 p.m.: Hector’s third-shift replacement arrives, ready to take over the next shift.
It was just another day for an ECAMSECURE virtual security guard, keeping watch over people and property.