By Jillian Ruffino
Published in the June 2007 issue of Today’s Facility Manager
When high profile guests gathered at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane, WA, the director of security teamed up with the U.S. Marshals Service to install an innovative system. Now, the hotel can respond quickly to any emergency.
What is your position? How many years have you been in this profession?
I am the director of security and have been in this position for five years.
Please give a brief description of the facility involved in this project.
The Davenport Hotel is a 283 room, four diamond historic hotel with 16 stories. There is also a seven level parking structure across the street from the hotel.
Why was the decision made to increase security at the hotel?
In July 2005, a large conference of federal judges was held in Spokane. The attendees included a Supreme Court justice as well as many senior federal judges. The U.S. Marshals Service was charged with the security and protection of the judges. It coordinated with Prepared Response to have the hotel mapped using the Rapid Responder software program to assist with its mission of executive protection.
Rapid Responder is a system that allows first responders to access key information quickly during a crisis, including tactical plans, satellite and geospatial imagery, interior and exterior photos, floor plans, staging areas, hazardous materials, utilities, and evacuation routes.
Please describe the decision making and research process for this project.
We were previously aware of the software; it is used in all high schools in the state of Washington.
What benefits have you reaped as a result of this project?
We now have the Rapid Responder software on our security office computers with immediate access to facility information in case of an emergency. Also, both the Spokane Police Department and Spokane City Fire Department have access to the program and can obtain the information through mobile computers during an emergency response.
The software can also be used for other types of situations. For example, if there is a water flow issue, the program will allow us to locate water shutoffs quickly. An on-duty security officer can do this if a hotel engineer is not available.
What economic benefits have you reaped as a result of this project?
At the time our hotel was mapped we were the only hotel in the country to have this type of software. The benefits from a marketing standpoint would be difficult to measure, but we do advertise to high profile clients that we have Rapid Responder. We feel this is a feature of our hotel that makes us more desirable. We also have hotel security officers on duty around the clock.
Did you encounter any unexpected highlights or challenges while implementing this project?
This was the first time the Prepared Response people had mapped a major multistory hotel. The Davenport Hotel is so large it encompasses an entire city block, including the parking garage across the street. The installation, however, did not create any disruption.
What has been the reaction to the project from upper management and elsewhere in your organization?
They were well aware that implementing Rapid Responder was an excellent opportunity for our hotel. They fully supported the project from the early discussion phase through the program’s installation process.
How has the community responded to this project?
The Rapid Responder program at our hotel was enthusiastically supported by the Spokane Police Department and the Spokane City Fire Department. They had used the program during an incident with an armed student at a downtown high school, so they were well aware of the software’s potential.
What was the most professionally rewarding aspect of this project?
As the director of security, I feel it has added an element of professionalism to our operation. I have been able to offer the program to law enforcement agencies who have been in our hotel to protect various high profile individuals. The Vice President of the United States was recently at our hotel, and we were able to provide access to the program for the U.S. Secret Service detail.