Yes, security robots are now a thing – and they are growing in use across the country! If you are evaluating the use of autonomous security robots, then we owe it to you to share a few tips since we’ve been at it for a while and have a ton of relevant real-world experience.
1. USE CASE
Sorry folks, “I think it is cool” or “I want the shiny new object” is not a use case! That is, unless your marketing or innovation team is thinking through something unique and needs some help. Most of the time you should really stick closely to actual security operations.
It is important to clearly identify the areas of improvement needed in your security program. What problems are you having? Where are the pain points? Understand the capabilities of the technology and then work creatively to try fill the gap most efficiently.
Our team now has a pretty robust and extensive assessment process and if we can’t do something, we will let you know outright if it is not possible. In a lot of cases, however, it may be possible to overcome in the future. With more dialogue and collaboration, it could even be something we add to our technology roadmap … especially if we know some of your colleagues across the country are struggling with the same issue.
2. SCIENCE FICTION
The first few years at Knightscope were bloody painful just to get the fully autonomous portion of the robots working consistently, inclusive of autonomous re-charging, and we spent countless hours and sleepless nights doing so. Once complete, the first interactions with prospective clients unfortunately didn’t go as we expected:
Knightscope: “Look it moves 100% on its own! It is fully autonomous without any human intervention. Isn’t that Incredible?!”
Prospect: “Of course it is autonomous. It is a robot. I’ve watched 30 years of movies and all robots move by themselves. Now, tell me, what can it do for my security program?”
Ouch. Don’t they know that this is Silicon Valley, not Hollywood? The industry simply didn’t ‘care about’ what we worked so hard on, but instead wanted to focus on our first point above – the use case.
Additionally, be on the lookout for SFD (“Science Fiction Disease”). SFD carriers are folks in your organization who start imagining all kinds of things that the robot does not do but somehow if enough people talk about it – it will become true. “It will make us coffee!”, “The robots will surround the suspect in a swarm!”, “It can look into my living room and tell you what movie I’m watching!”, “Rosie from the Jetsons is alive!”, “Well I saw R2D2 do that….”
“Hollywood” has done a great service and dis-service in helping the commercialization of this innovative technology!
When we set the right expectations with the client early on and establish a collaborative relationship, things usually work out smoothly and we make great progress together. But every organization is different and some set wildly unrealistic expectations – this is cutting edge new technology and will not operate at 99.9999995% uptime and is not yet the same as turning the faucet and expecting water will always come out.
What works well is opening a healthy and expansive dialogue, having ongoing and clear communications, continuing to make improvements together (yes, in some cases the client side requires significant improvements), and then with our Machine-as-a-Service (MaaS) business model, our clients enjoy unlimited software, firmware and at times hardware upgrades. So the better we work together, the better the technology gets over time and everyone wins, especially since we drop over-the-air software updates every couple of weeks and seek hardware improvement several times a year.
4. BUDGET APPROVAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL BUY-IN
You should make sure to think clearly through your source of funding. Typically, it comes out of the security budget but sometimes finds itself in the facilities budget, the IT budget or the ‘innovation’ budget. You should also consider what happens for the 2nd year as that can determine the long-term success of the program.
On a related note, make sure you really, really understand who has the signing authority as well as who is involved in the decision-making process. We like to say if the Chief Security Officer decides that the cameras in the building need to be upgraded, it is unlikely there are multiple departments involved and the decision is pretty streamlined.
However, if you show up with a 400 pound, fully autonomous robot that is going to be patrolling your premises 24/7/365, there likely will be a lot more folks involved. Based on actual experience our list includes, but is not limited, to:
· Chief Security Officer
· Cyber Security
· Information Technology
· Human Resources
· Public Relations
· Chief Executive Officer
· And, yes, sometimes the Board of Directors
And also think through who needs to be involved post-deployment. Think it through and be sure to have a game plan!
Communicate, communicate, communicate. We are here to serve you. The more we know, the more helpful we can be – just be clear as to what is a ‘must’, what is a ‘need’, and what is a ‘want’. We often find that after much dialogue the ‘must’ was really a ‘want’ and vice versa. Also, having any 3rd parties involved to communicate pre-deployment or post-deployment is, in our experience, profoundly counterproductive. Be sure to demand to speak to the experts directly. No one has ever done this before and we often can be quite helpful.
So now that you know what not to do, let us know if you’d like to learn more about autonomous security capabilities. We’ve operated over 700,000 hours in the real world under numerous conditions, through all 4 seasons several times, and we’ve done so both outdoors and indoors – at this point we’ve probably forgotten more in our building than most folks know about how to have a successful integration of #securityrobot technology in your security program. And we have renewing clients across the country to prove it.
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