Segway Inc.: gliding safely to provide safety
Segway Inc.: gliding safely to provide safety. Imagine the scenario: a security incident in a public space located 1 km or so away, is reported to the local authorities. There is little time to waste for help to reach the site in order to prevent a bigger crisis. Perhaps the most familiar response is for police or security personnel to board a car and rush to the scene to offer assistance. Or is it? What if the incident occurred indoors, in an area with dense foot traffic, such as an airport terminal? Or a crowded shopping mall? Or an enclosed football field?
Certainly, police and security personnel need patrol cars and/or motorbikes when travelling long distances. But often security personnel find themselves in places where suddenly time, space and manoeuvrability are critically lacking. The crowded environment scenario is all too real, especially in today’s world of heightened security awareness and preparedness. When patrols require visible yet quiet indoor/outdoor surveillance, police and security personnel are increasingly turning to the Segway personal transporter (or “PT”) as their solution of choice. Commercially available since 2002, the unique, compact and upright design was one of the first, battery-powered, zero-emissions transportation devices for travelling distances that are too far to walk, but too short or space-constrained to travel efficiently by car.
Since its launch, police and security staff serving public or private facilities have increasingly chosen this innovative solution to improve their security programmes for both general patrol and quicker incident response. The advantages are immediately attractive to police forces and security operators. Compared to foot patrol officers, the Segway riders are difficult to ignore: they stand 20 cm above ground level on a dynamically balancing, two-wheeled platform with a footprint of less than a square metre, attracting a lot of attention.
Psychologically, two important objectives are met: the public is reassured by a well-equipped, highly mobile security presence, whilst potential criminals are immediately aware that there is effective emergency response.
With a speed of up to 20 km/h and a range of up to 38 km per charge, the security pros are immediately ready to respond to emergencies and provide more efficient and cost-effective coverage.
Adapted for Changing Security Needs
Segway PTs are increasingly recognised as an optimum patrol solution, evidenced by a 140% growth in use in the security sector in 2007. Over 40 airports have chosen the personal transporter as a security and operations tool, including Paris Charles de Gaulle, AENA for Madrid Airport, Munich Airport and half of the 16 busiest airports in the US Police officers around the world are also patrolling on two wheels: “More than 600 police departments and security organisations worldwide already use these to patrol business districts, airports, shopping malls, parks and college campuses,” said Jim Norrod, chief executive officer for Segway.
“With the capabilities of the new generation and the addition of the new ‚Police package‘, we are providing police and commercial security agencies with tools that will greatly enhance their portfolio of services and the productivity of patrol officers.” The i2 Police and x2 Police models have been adapted to meet the increasing requirements of security operations and feature revolutionary Leansteer technology that makes riding intuitive, and a wireless Infokey controller that provides theft deterrence and real-time trip data.
The units can include a handlebar bag for gear, an accessory bar for lights and sirens, comfort mats to ease fatigue, reflective police/security labels, an LED taillight and cargo frames that double as lift handles. The x2 Police model also includes a set of two universal cargo plates allowing additional gear to be attached with bungee hooks or cargo nets.
Deployment in Europe
Heightened security risks and demand for optimised patrolling and response have made the new-age transporter a success beyond the United States. Patrol officers and guards are realising many of the benefits of their new means of transport. Munich Airport is Germany’s secondlargest airport, consisting of two, 1 km terminals linked by a 300 m hallway, each with capacity to handle 20 million passengers a year. In order to patrol both terminals and respond to security incidents immediately, staff frequently need to cross the terminal as quickly as possible.
Sometimes they cover as much as 30 km on foot in a single shift. In 2007, Munich airport operation superintendent, Siegfried Obermeier, helped conduct a test run. “We came to the conclusion that it is ideal for us. The speed, manoeuvrability and increased visibility they provide allow our employees to accomplish their jobs much more efficiently.”
As well as a three- fold increase in efficiency, Obermeier and his team quickly found other benefits since the purchase. “We can even turn in elevators, drive up ramps, and carry documents and our walkie-talkies. All employees are amazed by it and love to use it in their job.” Airports are not the only environment where new mobility solutions are needed. Germany’s BaySecur is part of Europe’s largest security group, G4S.
Bundesliga football club, Bayer Leverkusen, rely on BaySecur for stadium and car park security patrols. It is a daunting task - looking after a 22,500-seat stadium and managing visitor traffic - but one made easier with security staff on two wheels. The advantages are clear: staff on Segway PTs can see over crowds and act as a visible security presence; officers can patrol an area three times larger than if they were on foot, or patrol a defined area three times as quickly; and it‘s light enough to be easily transported by car to different sites.
Sonae Sierra is one of Europe’s largest shopping mall operators and has deployed 23 twowheeled police units in 10 shopping centres in Portugal so far. “Because of the manoeuvrability of the units and the elevated vantage point of the personnel, we are also able to patrol our parking facilities and see over the cars,” said Sergio Carvalho, manager of maintenance in Portugal. “They make the officers more visible and, as a result, the shoppers and store owners feel more secure and safe.”
Security demands are rapidly changing and security measures increasingly toughened. It is crucial for security staff to have oversight, be able to anticipate incidents and deliver shorter response times. At the same time, the need for environmentally friendly and fast transport is growing. The Segway PT combines increased visibility, mobility and productivity for security personnel, with zero emissions, low maintenance, and recharge costs at just € 0.20 per charge.
Thanks to this, the flexibility to adapt to the modern security environment in times of heightened risk has become reality for many security operators.
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