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Between 65 acres of campus grounds (including 3.6 million square feet of buildings) and an average daytime population of 13,000–15,000 people, Security Services at the SMMC has their work cut out for them. They make rounds, respond to calls for service, handle priority activities (crimes, disturbances, threats, etc.) and even investigate motor vehicle accidents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—all with only two security personnel and one dispatcher on staff during any given shift.
With such an expansive facility and wideranging security issues, it is essential that the SMMC’s Security Services has the crucial information they need to successfully maintain campus safety. This necessitates that incident information be readily accessible to all security personnel at all times, as well as meaningful analysis and reports allowing staff to quickly and easily interpret this data.
For years, the SMMC relied on a home-grown system involving a combination of paper based and electronic activity and incident reporting methods. Dispatchers tracked security officers’ daily activities by hand in a logbook and then transferred this information to a Microsoft Excel® spreadsheet at the end of each day. Significant incidents warranting further investigation or follow-up were reported in detail using templates in Microsoft Word®, with photographs, videos and other documentation associated with incident reports stored as separate electronic files.
Over time, as the SMMC expanded and their security needs grew, it became apparent to Lieutenant Steven Haynes of Security Services that their home-grown incident tracking system simply wasn’t working:
“Getting information and sharing information had become almost impossible for us. If administration wanted to know about things, we did not have a good way of getting that data together and giving it to them in a usable manner. Our system was so unwieldy and so cumbersome that extracting data from it was extremely time-consuming, and we weren’t always able to find the information we needed. It just didn’t work for us. We knew that we had to find a better way to do things.”
Although Haynes wasn’t initially aware of what automated software systems were available on the market for incident reporting, he knew that consolidating the SMMC’s security data was critical to achieving their security objectives. With consolidated data, all information would be accessible from one central location and it could be easily searched across for complete analysis and reporting:
“With our old system, I could look in as many as five different files looking for incident information. The pictures were one place, a written statement another place and so on. We wanted a system that could keep all this information together in one location and in a form that the officers could research. Segregation of data was important too, because we wanted to share information with our Risk Management and Safety departments but not everyone needed access to everything. Basically, we needed a system that provided a single platform for dealing with multiple departments—including our own—and with large amounts of information.”
With the SMMC’s particular needs in mind, Haynes attended ASIS International’s Annual Seminar and Exhibits in the fall of 2005 shopping for an Incident Reporting and Investigation Management solution that could consolidate the SMMC’s incident data and increase their analytical and reporting options. That’s when Haynes received his first glimpse of Perspective.
Haynes was so excited by the product that he immediately scheduled a one-on-one demonstration for his Security Director, Charles Murray, to see it in action. Murray’s reaction was equally favorable:
“Right then and there, he said, ‘This is what we want.’ And honestly, if he had the authority, he would have written a check on the spot. We were that impressed.”
On April 1, 2007, the SMMC launched Perspective, going live with approximately 20 users within Security Services, as well as additional users in the Safety and Risk Management departments.
The ability of Perspective to consolidate information in one central database, while segregating this data according to a user’s security protocols, has transformed the SMMC’s security operations, allowing the same Incident Reporting and Investigation Management system to be utilized by three departments.
Haynes notes that having all data available for system-wide analysis and reporting enables Security Services to easily share information within their own department, as well as with other departments:
“We created a summary report for our administration that shows how many incidents are occurring, the types of incidents and the associated losses. We had not done a good job of sharing this information with them before. They honestly did not know a lot of what was going on. And now they’re seeing things in a different light.”
Haynes also appreciates the customizability of Perspective’s reporting options when communicating with other departments. Even when using one of Perspective’s standard reports, Haynes can specify particular reporting parameters with only a few clicks of his mouse:
“We interact with a number of committees here. And rather than having a generic report that they have to sift through, we’re able to customize the information in our reports so that they only get the data they need. People’s time is valuable; they don’t want to be dealing with stuff that doesn’t concern them.”
Perspective’s analytical features have also proven to be valuable assets for the SMMC, expanding the range of information they are able to extract from their incident data. Perspective Visual Analysis automatically generates visual representations of the links between incident, item, person, organization and vehicle data stored in Perspective. Shortly after going live with Perspective, the SMMC experienced a rash of vandalism incidents on campus. Within minutes of examining the link chart generated by Visual Analysis for the incidents, Haynes and the Security Services team were able to identify one key individual involved.
A subsequent investigation later determined that this person was indeed the vandal responsible. As Haynes states, the power of Visual Analysis lies in its ability to quickly and succinctly identify commonalities between seemingly disparate data, and then present this information in a simple chart that is easily read and interpreted:
“Oftentimes, in a report, associated data might be separated by a number of columns or even pages of less relevant information, and it may be difficult to make the connection. But Visual Analysis creates that web and all of a sudden everything seems to be pointing in one direction, and it all starts to make sense. It gives you a place to look, a place to focus your efforts.”
Like Visual Analysis, the charts on Perspective’s Dashboard give Haynes a place to focus his efforts, automatically summarizing incident data to reveal incident trends and statistics. Earlier this year, Haynes recalls being vaguely aware that hospital staff had been administering an unusual number of restraints to patients in the previous weeks. However, it wasn’t until he sat down to Perspective’s Dashboard one morning and saw restraints in the top ten incident categories at the SMMC that he realized how prevalent it had become:
“I logged on and there on the Dashboard was this big red slice of pie staring me in the face, and I thought, ‘Wait a minute. That’s restraints! Have we done that many?’ So even though I see all these incident reports at one time or another, it’s that Dashboard popping up in my face every morning that keeps me focused on what’s really going on.”
Being alerted to this significant issue allowed Haynes to investigate it further to get at the root of the problem, mining the SMMC’s incident data with custom queries generated in Analysis Expert, and then pass this information on to the SMMC’s workplace violence committee. Ultimately, this valuable data allowed the committee to formulate a strategy for reducing the need for patient restraints, ensuring a safer environment for staff and patients alike.
Perspective has not only fulfilled the SMMC’s need to consolidate incident data and increase their analytical and reporting options, but it has generated many side benefits for the organization as well. In order to meet the standards of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, the main regulatory body governing the practices and standards of care provided by health care facilities in the US, the SMMC is required to perform a number of inspection drills throughout the year. These inspections ensure that they are meeting the Joint Commission’s requirements, and this proven compliance assures that the SMMC will continue to receive Medicare and Medicaid funding from the US government, as well as payment from private medical insurance companies providing patient coverage. Clearly, achieving compliance is critical to the SMMC’s bottom line, and a short while after implementing Perspective, Haynes and his team realized that the system could help them track their inspections more efficiently than before.
With Perspective, the SMMC is able to consolidate all of their Joint Commission inspection data in one location and quickly and easily report on it. This allows them to effectively prove that their facility is operating according to the Joint Commission’s best practices. States Haynes: “When the Joint Commission was at the SMMC three years ago, we had seven notebooks, each of them three or four inches thick, proving that we had met the standards set out for us. That’s where our documentation was—buried in notebooks! Now, with Perspective, we’ve got that cut right down. If the Joint Commission stopped by today, the information would be readily available. We can easily pull up a list through Perspective at any time outlining all the inspections we’ve done, with the date, the details of what we did, the summary and the critique. We’ve got it all right at hand, instead of in some notebook in somebody’s office buried in a stack of paper.”
Perspective has also improved the SMMC’s bottom line in other ways. One of the greatest benefits the SMMC has seen from Perspective is that it enables them to target their security operations more effectively, resulting in a reduction in incidents and incident losses.
“Using the analytical and reporting options available in Perspective, Security Services is able to quickly identify patterns and trends in incident activity and intelligently focus their efforts where it is most needed.”
As with the Dashboard pie chart alerting Haynes of an issue with restraints, the knowledge readily available in Perspective helps Security Services stay on top of incident activity, preventing security issues from becoming security failures.
And when Security Services does prevent an incident from occurring or reduces an incident’s loss, Perspective provides them with an efficient way of recording this information and reporting it to administration. Explains Haynes:
“When you recover an $11,000 ventilator out in a parking lot, you may not know exactly how it got there or what it’s doing out there, but you do know that finding that ventilator represents an averted loss. And an averted loss of $11,000 always looks good at the end of the month.”
Being able to report such impressive data to administration has raised the profile of Security Services at the SMMC, helping to underscore the importance of their work.
Haynes recently used trending data gleaned from Perspective to request that additional officers be staffed on days and times when incident activity is highest. And he is using similar data to plan his officers’ rounds around incident hotspots, anticipating problem areas and working proactively towards incident prevention. This approach is earning the respect of administration, proving that Haynes’ Security Services team is a valuable asset to the SMMC:
We recently had some car thefts take place and administration had asked, ‘What are you doing about this?’ Well, because I already knew that this was a problem, I had prepared a query in Perspective’s Analysis Expert that told me what days, what times and what locations the thefts were occurring. This told me where and when to be looking and I adjusted the officers’ patrol patterns accordingly. So when administration asked what we were doing about the problem, I wasn’t caught flat-footed. I had an answer ready and waiting. That certainly raised our stock with them.”
As well as enabling Security Services to better allocate officers according to incident trends and statistical data, Perspective allows security staff to better use their time in the office. Rather than having to sort through disconnected paper and electronic reports stored in numerous files to find data of interest, Security Services can now find all the SMMC’s incident data consolidated in one location, and they can easily extract meaningful information on demand. As Haynes states, Perspective frees up the SMMC’s Security Services team to do what they were hired to do— provide security, not shuffle paper:
“We’re no longer using staff as file clerks, trying to locate information. We’re letting Perspective do the work for us, so that we can concentrate on other things. Perspective saves us a lot of time, allowing us to better utilize our people.”
And, interestingly enough, with more time to properly do their job, Security Services is reporting more incidents than before. Previously, only the most serious incidents were documented by security staff as their old incident reporting system was so timeconsuming; whereas now, approximately 35 incidents are documented each month. This has increased the pool of data available to Security Services to query and report, giving them even more information to base their security operations on.
Having a consolidated database to query and report across has significantly improved security operations at the SMMC, but given the SMMC’s future expansion plans, Haynes is confident that the organization will continue to realize new benefits from Perspective for years to come:
“The more we use Perspective, the more possibilities we see. If we continue to expand as planned with multiple facilities, I’ll have officers scattered across the metropolitan area. As long as we have one system where all the information goes, our command staff will be able to look at the data, understand what’s going on even if they’re not physically present, and know how best to deal with it. I think that’s going to be a big boon for us.”
Clearly, Perspective offers the SMMC a myriad of benefits, with more in the making. But what about the benefit that most concerns the powers-that-be in any organization considering a system like Perspective… its ROI? Haynes doesn’t have figures on hand, but he does have this to say:
“Ultimately, when we decided that Perspective was the system for us, we had to convince the people with the budget that it was in our best interest. We were able to show that it was going to save us time and money and actually be beneficial for our organization in the long run. We probably did not see a complete return on investment in the first year. But as time goes on, the returns are just going to get better and better. It will pay for itself and more.”
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