Mall security: Best practices to follow

AS, 2023-07-05 16:56
Mall security is important for both the mall owner and the individual stores. To properly secure a mall, certain best practices should be followed. This article takes a closer look.
Malls are popular hangout places, especially after school and during weekends, and must be secured at all times. This is important especially amid certain crimes and misdemeanors happening at malls from time to time. According to the FBI, 1,133 violent crimes took place in US shopping malls in 2020. In July 2022, a gunman opened fire at an Indianapolis-area shopping mall, leaving at least four people dead and two injured.

Security needed

Security is thus necessary to protect staff, retailers and shoppers alike as well as provide a good customer experience. “Shopping malls are busy centers of commerce and entertainment, with some attracting large crowds of customers every day. The spike in ORC (organized retail crime) and smash-and-grab incidents targeting mall-based retailers has heightened the need to understand the distinct dynamics of securing mall-based retailers,” said Sean Foley, SVP of Customer Success at Interface Systems.

Best practices

That said, the following are some of the best practices to optimize mall security and ensure the safety of all parties involved.

Information sharing

Sharing security-related information between the mall owner/operator and individual retailers is quite important. Typically, when it comes to security, the mall operator is charged with the parking lot and other common areas, while the security of each individual store is up to the tenant. As a result, they use disparate security systems that work in silos. This then necessitates a good information-sharing mechanism.
“By coordinating efforts and information sharing between mall tenants and property owners, security measures can be strengthened, and response times can be improved in critical situations,” Foley said. “One effective example is the practice followed by the Jewelers Security Alliance at the national level, where notifications regarding perpetrators are circulated among jewelers. Implementing similar sharing mechanisms within malls would allow retailers to be aware of known offenders and enhance overall security measures.”

Unified platform

A unified platform can make mall security more effective by tying together the different security systems used. According to Maïté Herrero, Industry Marketing Specialist at Genetec, these include:
  • Video management to verify alarms/contextualize incidents and intrusions and support loss prevention efforts;
  • Access control to manage access to restricted areas such as building access doors, maintenance rooms and emergency exits;
  • Automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) to identify empty parking spots, help visitors find their “lost” cars when they forgot where they parked, verify the license plate details of delivery trucks, and be notified of repeat offenders;
  • Intercom and public address systems to broadcast important safety messages to mall visitors;
  • Video analytics, such as people counting to ensure compliance with fire and occupancy regulations.
Unifying them can make the mall operator’s job easier. “More malls are implementing modern, unified systems. A unified platform helps operators better identify situations, contextualize incidents, and respond quicker. Security teams can view all mall activities from a centralized monitoring location. Since all inputs are visualized on a single dashboard, teams can verify alarms and respond to calls without switching between disparate systems,” Herrero said.

Flexible, scalable system

Choosing a flexible, scalable system with an open architecture allows the mall user to use their existing hardware and add more systems over time as they expand to other locations.
“For example, a large mall in London implemented a unified, scalable system. They recognized the benefits of a common interface and user experience for their security staff – driving economies of scale in training and incident response alignment. Likewise, since they implemented an open-architecture system, they were able to start with select locations and add other properties over time. As properties are added or technology needs change, they can implement new devices or tools to meet their evolving goals,” Herrero said.

Leverage the powers of analytics

While video surveillance solutions can be useful for malls, their value increases when combined with analytics. “For example, a business can easily be losing money at the point-of-sale (POS) if it doesn’t employ POS exception reporting integrated with video. By aggregating data from POS exception reporting with video, businesses gain actionable insights every time an employee cancels a transaction, rings a ‘no-sale,’ or processes a refund for a ‘friend.’ Anytime there’s a transaction and there’s no customer, retailers can easily pinpoint the exact transaction by having video tightly integrated with sales transactions,” Foley said.