Morse Watchmans' Centurylong History Rooted in Security Industry
- By Fernando Pires
- Jun 15, 2011
The Morse Watchmans name has been a staple in the security marketplace for more than a century. The company first established itself by revolutionizing the traditional watchman’s time clock. The company’s new design featured paper tape in place of a metal disk and solid-state quartz movements rather than mechanical parts to better ensure accuracy and reliable performance. This new design made it easier for guards to verify their rounds at checkpoint stations and also firmly positioned Morse Watchmans as a leading developer of security solutions.
Guard tour systems have since been synonymous with the Morse Watchmans name. The company’s product offerings have continued to include easy-to-use and durable systems featuring handheld data recorders. The company’s management of guard tour operations includes recording, archiving, retrieving and managing collected data in a variety of applications, including in corrections facilities, shopping malls and hospitals, to provide full accountability and assurances for liability issues.
Morse Watchmans continued its history of innovation by incorporating unique and features to the automated guard tour system. For example, random tour commands initiate a completely different tour every time in order to avoid monotony and observable patterns. Another example is an autopilot capability that displays the next station on the LCD screen to help minimize incomplete rounds. The company’s development of reporting software to create custom-tailored activity and incident reports was another breakthrough innovation.
The expertise that Morse Watchmans acquired in product development and marketing of its guard tour systems was instrumental in the company bringing its key management system to the marketplace. In the early 1990s, the state of the industry for key management systems consisted of sheet-metal cabinets or wooden key boxes with dozens of keys hanging on peg boards. Records of who accessed keys, when, entailed manual index log books and individual receipt cards that guards or employees used to record the access and return history of the key. There was a need for an electronic system that would limit access to authorized individuals and also track key usage. Morse Watchmans not only recognized the need, it developed a cutting-edge solution to meet it.
Working closely with a few trusted clients for input and feedback on feature sets and functionality, Morse Watchmans was first to market with its KeyWatcher system. The system allowed clients to store keys in a locked, “smart” storage cabinet that accounted for each user by access code, time and date. Keys were physically locked in place and released to authorized users only. A patented feature, random key return, allowed users to return keys to any open location within the cabinet to help protect sensitive keys from pattern location placement.
Having a new solution did not ensure immediate market acceptance. The traditional key box and manual recording log were firmly entrenched in most facilities’ operational procedures, and a change was not immediately seen as necessary or even beneficial. However, word-of-mouth advertising and a proven return on investment quickly created a buzz and the popularity of the KeyWatcher system began to grow.
From its initial introduction in 1993, Morse Watchmans has upgraded and improved the KeyWatcher system to meet changing market requirements. Based on customer requests, the company has added new components and expanded the system to accommodate more key locations and users. The KeyWatcher III was introduced in 2004, adding an integrated card reader interface, multi-user and non-random options, biometrics integration and new management software. In keeping with the trend at the time toward increased PC usage, the III system could directly connect to a printer, PC or modem to produce on-demand management reports.
The year 2007 ushered in even more additions to the key management systems in the form of custom modules to accommodate valuable items. Once again, Morse Watchmans was first to market with new ideas and solutions for storing small items such as firearms, cell phones and other valuables, as well as credit, debit, gas and key cards.
Customer feedback has played an important role in Morse Watchmans’ product development strategy, but more importantly, the company has always had control of its own technical destiny. Product designers work closely with engineering, manufacturing and marketing departments to help ensure that new products and product upgrades are wanted and needed in the marketplace. In doing so, Morse Watchmans has set the standard for key management in the security industry.
Fernando Pires is the vice president of sales and marketing for Morse Watchmans.