Most guard tour systems today have some sort of digital accountability tool that replaces the traditional Deggy button and proves guards are hitting their stops at the assigned time. At Silvertrac, our checkpoints utilize QR codes, which we believe are superior to RFID and NFC Tags for three key reasons.
This podcast will cover a quick background for each and then talk about a few of the pros and cons. Let's get started!
QR Codes vs. RFID vs. NFC
Before we jump into the pros and cons, here’s a quick definition of each of the terms:
- QR (Quick Response) Code: QR codes are similar to barcodes and can be quickly scanned and read by any camera-equipped smartphone.
- RFID (Radio Frequency Identification): RFID chips can be embedded or placed around a site and emit low-level radio frequencies that can be picked up with specialized equipment. There are both short-range and long-range tags, but the short-range tags are most common in the security industry.
- NFC (Near Field Communication) Tag: NFC allows for wireless data transfer between two devices similar to Bluetooth. Ever since the launch of Apple pay, which utilizes this technology, most smartphones have NFC built in.
So now that we’ve established what all these different technologies do, let’s talk about what makes QR codes the most effective option for security guard management and accountability.
QR Codes Are Free
Both RFID and NFC tags are relatively inexpensive, but when you’re using a large number of them across many properties, that expense can add up. QR codes, on the other hand, are completely free. You just generate them and print them off.
More importantly, QR codes don’t require the purchase of any additional equipment. Whether you use company phones or a bring your own device (BYOD) policy, pretty much any smartphone or tablet can read them.
On the other hand, many phones more than a year or two old won’t have NFC technology, and RFID tags require readers that cost anywhere from around $40 to several hundred depending on your needs.
On this count, QR codes win easily. Whereas the other technologies require buying specialized tags and new devices, all you need for QR codes are a printer and paper.
QR Codes Are Easy
Another con of NFC and RFID tags is that you have to wait on the companies who produce the tags to ship you more if you run out. QR codes, on the other hand, can be printed whenever you need them. There are even relatively inexpensive qr code printers that can create them for you on-site if you want that added convenience.
From the officer’s perspective, they’re also more likely to have encountered QR codes before and be familiar with how to use them. None of these technologies are particularly difficult or complicated to use, but it’s also nice to have your guards already be familiar with the process and not need any additional training.
QR Codes Don’t Have To Be On-Site
Embedding chips or tags on-site can be a laborious process. You have to go around to each location and make sure the tag is properly affixed, and then you have to continually make sure that they haven’t been damaged, dislodged, or stolen.
The beauty of QR codes is that you don’t even need to stick them up on the walls of your location. You can just create a 3x3 book of the codes for the guard to carry around. They see the location they’re supposed to hit, and so they go there and scan the code with their phone.
Their location is tracked by GPS, and they have to take a picture of the site, so you still have absolute accountability in terms of guaranteeing your guards are actually on site.
These books certainly wouldn’t work with RFID tags, and they’d be much more elaborate and difficult to create with NFC. Once again, QR codes emerge as being the simplest option with the most flexibility to use them whichever way you want.
Getting The Most Out Of The Tech
Don’t take this to mean we hate RFID or NFC. We just think QR codes work better for the purposes of security companies. All three options can work well with guard tour systems and significantly improve your guard management capabilities.
We’ll continue with this topic in our next episode when we talk about 31 areas to consider when placing guard tour checkpoints. Setting up checkpoints well can help you go beyond accountability and realize the full value of this technology to improve guard management and reduce training time.