Recently in Pennsylvania, the state’s House Labor and Industry Committee voted on legislation focused on increasing the protection efforts of hotel employees, and it is now out for a vote in the House. If the bill passes, hoteliers in Pennsylvania will be required to provide distress buttons for employees working alone in guestrooms and other non-common areas. Pennsylvania joins a growing list of states and cities mandating protections – in response to the American Hotel & Lodging Association and its Five-Star Promise – for employees in an industry with one of the highest rates of workplace assault and harassment, at 58%.
To help hoteliers identify the right solution and provider, we’ve compiled an overview of what they need to know about the Internet of Things (IoT)-backed rapid response button solutions.
Rapid Response Buttons: What Are They? How Do They Work?
A rapid response button is a wearable push button or portable device employees can trigger to indicate they need help in an emergency or unsafe situation. Typically, these devices send a silent signal to security personnel or management that an incident is occurring, or likely to occur, making them ideal for hotel environments where employees are vulnerable – especially in situations where they are routinely working alone or in low-traffic areas. It’s vital to seek devices that can be activated discreetly and send silent notifications because audible alerts can potentially worsen the situation for employees. Additionally, hotel employers need to find a solution that provides precise, real-time location information, so they not only know when a staff member is in duress, but precisely where they are located so help can be dispatched.
In addition to numerous device options, different connectivity options are available (e.g., Wi-Fi, LTE, Bluetooth, and LoRaWAN®). Hoteliers should seek one that will work in all areas of a hotel, taking into consideration areas where cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity may not be strong (e.g., in supply rooms, laundry facilities or stairwells). This is paramount as connectivity issues can interfere with signal transmission and impede help from arriving quickly.
Beware of Point Solutions
To date, many hotels have been slow to adopt rapid response solutions. One potential reason for this is because many options in the market are point solutions, which are costly to deploy and only allow for added value within a single implementation. What's worse, as the pile of hardware in a hotel's IT closet grows with each point solution deployed, so does the cost, risk, and complexity of managing solutions at scale, leading to a concept we call "closet creep." Therefore, hoteliers should find providers that can offer a scalable platform that supports multiple solutions for a lower TCO and maximum ROI.
Safeguard Your Employees with MachineQ
With the MachineQ rapid response solution, employees are outfitted with a wearable push button that can be worn on a lanyard and includes an area to hold an employee badge, if desired. The device is designed with buttons on both sides and utilizes a dual button press for activation, minimizing accidental or false alerts. In an emergency, a staff member can discreetly activate the alarm by pressing the buttons, which silently triggers a notification via text and email to a pre-set list of individuals (e.g., security teams or management) with their precise location. The device will continue sending updated location data every minute until the alert is stopped.
The location is determined using the property’s RF footprint, and the data is securely transmitted to the cloud via LoRaWAN wireless technology. This connectivity option means no hardware is needed in guest rooms, and there is no reliance on hotel Wi-Fi for data transport. Plus, with MachineQ, hoteliers gain a dedicated and scalable IoT network that enables them to deploy more IoT use cases – including energy monitoring, leak detection, asset tracking, smart restroom and hygiene product dispensers, temperature and humidity monitoring, and more – on the same network infrastructure investment.