What are the major security concerns in mall parking lots?
Source: Prasanth Aby Thomas, Consultant Editor
The number of malls
across the globe is increasing. So are the number of private vehicles that people use to get to these malls. The situation inevitably calls for an improved parking lot management
solutions that can take care of safety concerns as well as make the process more efficient.
From a systems integrator’s
(SI) perspective, understanding the evolving threats in mall parking lots is integral to offering solutions that would ensure maximum protection. Speaking to a&s recently, Arvind Mayar, CEO of Secure Parking Solutions
listed some of the major concerns that SIs should be aware of.
1. Bomb threats
Malls are places where a huge number of people gather every day. This makes it a target for terrorist attacks. In December last year, two people were killed and about 30 wounded when a bomb exploded at a mall in the Philippines. Similar incidents have taken place in other places too. While they may not always have occurred in the parking areas, car bombs are a serious threat that parking lot management systems should be concerned about.
2. Vehicle theft
Theft of cars or things kept in cars parked at shopping centers is also a cause of concern. Incidents such as the burglary at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto last year continue to prove that parking lots are far from safe at present.
Accidents are a risk wherever vehicles are being driven. In the closed spaces of parking lots, where there is a limited area to maneuver the cars, this risk is higher than in several other places. According to the insurance firm ThinkInsure, one in five accidents happen in parking lots. While most parking lot accidents are minor and involve low-speed impact, they can still result in serious damage and injury.
According to Mayar, the possibility of vehicles catching fire is a major issue that needs to be addressed when providing solutions for parking lots. Some experts point out that car manufacturers increasingly use more plastic in vehicles now than before, and this leads to fire-related incidents becoming a major concern.
5. Vandalism and related issues
Damage to cars by vandals are also a concern. This becomes all the more common in malls that have nightclubs or bars and people acting irresponsibly in an inebriated condition, according to Mayar. Vandalism may not always be an isolated incident and could happen along with theft.
According to Twin City Security, a firm that offers security services, malls are the new main streets of America. This means the wide range of security concerns that could have been expected on the main street can now be expected in a mall. In the specific context of parking lots, we could say that any concern that’s relevant to a car parked in the streets could be applicable to malls too.
The only difference here is the efficiency of a parking lot management solution. An ideal solution should be able to integrate with different security systems like surveillance cameras, access control systems, and fire solutions, to act in accordance with a given situation.
Naturally, security is just one benefit of a parking management solution. Operational efficiency, economic and environmental advantages would also benefit the mall management as well as their customers.
Drivers will be able to know the number of vacant parking spots available before entering the area. Some solutions even offer mobile solutions that can inform the drivers of the status through short message services. This reduces a considerable amount of time, energy, or manpower that would otherwise be spent searching for a spot. In turn, it also reduces pollution.