Using Smartphone Tech to Counter Criminal Activity

Cyber security has a prominent place in all hotel security profiles. The hospitality industry can use many technological advances to more easily and effectively protect themselves and their clients against theft, fraud, and other criminal activity, whether on-site or virtual. Vesta Hospitality, a Vancouver, Wash.-based hotel management company, has been using the convenience and advances of smartphone and video technology to counter all types of criminal activity. With strategically placed cameras, president and CEO Rick Takach monitors Vesta’s properties via smartphone apps. Cyber vigilance can effectively manage and evaluate on-site activity, he explains.

While on-site video cameras have been used for many years, modern technology has greatly increased their effectiveness, allowing users to take full advantage of the sharper quality and higher caliber they can now provide. “In the past, we’ve had these security cameras where it’s too dark or they didn’t have enough clarity,” Takach says. “Well, today we have tons of clarity and you can see in the dark. If there’s an incident, it can really help.”

Takach describes an incident in a low crime area where the security cameras proved beneficial in detecting criminal activity in one of his hotels. “Not too long ago, in the middle of the night, somebody got up on the roof of the hotel and came down a shaft to get into our liquor room,” he says. “Since we had it all on video, with good pictures of the guy’s face, we turned it over to the police and they caught him. So, it helps prevent any incidents in-house, or at least gives us a good idea how to handle it.”

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By using existing technology in a unique way, Takach improves his bottom line, and protects clients; he even uses it for employee training purposes. “It’s a good way for us to keep track of our hotels and see what’s going on, as well as a good management tool for the GM and the administrative team of the hotel.”

In addition to monitoring criminal activity, having the ability to review footage of day-to-day activity can help provide objective analysis of reported problems or questionable daily activities. What might be described as a problematic situation might just be a matter of a person’s perspective. Having tapes to review can help resolve this sort of situation.

Not only problems, criminal or otherwise, can be addressed, but also the daily operating system can be viewed, providing data and allowing the manager to see what’s going on from a remote location. Takach elaborates, “You can talk to the management team and say, ‘Hey, I noticed this, or I noticed that,’ so it’s good training, good for security, it’s nice and easy, and I can do it anywhere around the world if I have my phone with me—so it’s kind of fun.”