What is a Hotel Panic Button and How Do They Work
by Annabelle Carreiro, on Sep 24, 2020 2:46:13 PM
Over the past few years, employee safety legislation and mandates have appeared across multiple states in the United States. From Seattle to Chicago, cities and states pass legislation that includes employers' requirements to provide their employees with a type of Employee Safety Device (ESD) when working alone. Specifically, those in the Hospitality, Healthcare, and Education Industries. Hotel housekeepers make up an especially vulnerable group who are routinely exposed to possibly dangerous situations. A hotel may minimize this danger of harassment and assault by implementing a simple way to call for help with a hotel panic button.
Defining a Hotel Panic Button
A hotel panic button is a wearable/portable device that provides an employee (i.e., housekeeper) to call for help with a button's push. When the panic button is triggered, the device alerts security and supervisors of the employee's precise floor and room location, allowing help dispatched to their exact location. These devices rely on Bluetooth®, Wi-Fi, and/or Cellular Networks to communicate real-time trackable location data to the responding parties.
You may also come across a hotel panic button solution mentioned as Employee Safety Device (ESD), Employee Safety Solution, and Lone Worker Safety Technology. These solutions names are ways to describe the safety technology to protect employees who work in isolation during part or all of their shifts, leaving them vulnerable to harassment and assault.
What is NOT a Hotel Panic Button
A hotel panic button is a specifically developed technology for commercial use and not often available to be purchased by the average consumer as a one-off purchase. Hotel panic buttons differ from traditional consumer safety products in several ways. Many personal safety devices on the market offer safety by triggering a loud audible alert. Such devices are called "screamers" and designed to ward off an attacker or call for assistance for some within a short distance.
While some hospitality industry businesses may have used "screamers" in the past, such noise bombs are not considered compliant with recent employee safety mandates. Hotel panic buttons do NOT rely solely on noise to alert others of an emergency; instead, they trigger a discrete silent alert in the form of a notification sent directly to their security and supervisors. Noise alerts might provide some protection to isolated individuals, but may escalate a dangerous situation.
How Does a Hotel Panic Button Work?
Hotel panic buttons rely on a few hardware and software components to deliver real-time trackable alerts. It starts with the panic button itself, a wearable device capable of sending the distress signal. The panic button is not "on" and, therefore, not tracking the user until help is called for with a button press. Once the button is pressed, the device detects it's geolocation (down to the specific floor and room number) using a network of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacons. These beacons are required to pinpoint the exact alert location (unless the hotel is leveraging existing smart technology within each hotel room), in which case those technologies may be used for integration purposes to save on upfront costs.
One BLE Beacon is placed in each guest room during the installation process and assigned a location name "Room 206". These beacons do not require any hardwiring or drilling to be installed. Once the hotel has been mapped with these beacons, they allow the panic button to "discover" it's location and update that location should it change. As an example, if an alert were to be triggered in "Room 206" and the employee with the button ran down the hall, past "Room 208" the alert would update to the most up to date room location and would read "Room 208".
Once an alert is triggered, the information is delivered to the software management program, also known as a Dispatch Center or command center. The Dispatch Center will push the alert to all security and management associates identified in the system by SMS and/or Email when the alert is triggered and cleared. All alerts are logged in the Dispatch Center for property records, along with the ability to check battery life on hardware, device assignment, and much more to ensure the safety of your people.
A practical overview of the use of a hotel panic button:
- An employee picks up their assigned button for the day when they check in to their shift.
- The employee carries the panic button with them all day on a lanyard, clip, or in their pocket.
- At the end of their shift, they return it to where they picked up the device.
Note: Each property will have its unique security policies and may vary on how hardware is stored and managed. How a hotel panic button solution works will vary by each vendor; the above description refers to the React Mobile's Solution.
Why Hotel Panic Buttons are a Priority
Hospitality is an industry that revolves around people and creating memories, and your employees are at the heart and foundation of the experience. It's the hoteliers' responsibility to ensure that your guests feel safe and putting equal importance on your staff's safety. The tools and resources to protect your people are available, and it's time to get them in the hands of your most important asset - your people.
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