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Designing the ideal security solution for malls

Designing the ideal security solution for malls
Systems integrators (SIs) face varying challenges when providing security solutions for malls. To a large extent, this depends on the market they operate in.
Systems integrators (SIs) face varying challenges when providing security solutions for malls. To a large extent, this depends on the market they operate in. Feng Cai, Vertical Solutions Managers at Hikvision Digital Technology, pointed out that a major hurdle can be switching existing analog surveillance systems to IP-based systems while integrating distributed systems to manage all the devices and data centrally.

“As a core role between solution providers and end-users, systems integrators and installers also need to educate end users with the importance of centralized management, which helps to improve operation and response efficiency and site security, while also get updates with solution providers,” Cai added.

In Keith Drummond’s, Senior Director, Sales and Marketing at IDIS America opinion, the biggest challenge with designing a system for a mall is the architecture. In many cases, these buildings are designed to be aesthetically pleasing which creates inherent hiding places and can make designing a security system somewhat of a hurdle for consultants and SIs.

Billy Hopkins, Senior Technical Manager at IDIS Europe, too, stressed on the difficulty of moving from analog to digital systems, adding that providing a simple and user-friendly frontend can be a challenge. “There is a clear case for using an end-to-end manufactured solution where all the components — from cameras to transmission to enterprise software — are guaranteed to work in perfect harmony,” he said. “Importantly, the best end-to-end solutions still allow specialist third-party integrations to cater for the many changing threats and requirements of large retail environments.”

When it comes to implementing solutions like facial recognition, lack of adequate knowledge on behalf of security directors also becomes a challenge for SIs, according to Laura Blanc Pedregal, Chief Marketing Officer at Herta Security. The solution to this is, of course, better training and increased awareness of relevant technologies.

Designing the ideal system for malls

Integrating video surveillance solutions with access control systems would be the first step to designing an ideal security system for malls, according to Keith Drummond.“Site survey requirements by consultants and systems integrators (SIs) are not unique and utilized for many security applications, yet they are vital resources for shopping malls,” Drummond said. “Designing a security system for malls is extremely difficult. Site walks and architectural drawings are key to creating the most secure environment for patrons.”

Pedregal suggested that an ideal security system for malls should be built with high quality cameras that enable a good image stream, a high-level VMS software in order to compile all the information that is being analyzed in real time all together, and a facial recognition system that sends instant alarms every time a black-listed subject is detected in the premises or at the outside.

Elaborating more on the technical aspects, Hopkins said that the system should be designed around control room operations and it should bring all the information feeds required to a central point. Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) is already a great tool in assessing and supplying information, but it cannot replace the experienced, intuitive professionals who, ultimately, need to make the call. This is especially true when people’s lives are at risk. Every shopping mall is operationally different, and this is where the local expertise and knowledge of a consultant or experienced SI is really needed.

“An ideal security system should be designed to ensure a positive visitor experience from the moment of arrival — so, for example, ALPR technology can be used to streamline and personalize parking, and to allow courtesy services,” Hopkins said. “This approach — focusing on user-friendliness and a positive experience for customers — should always be the starting point, rather than beginning with a checklist of technology functions and deciding what to do with them.” Malls are also looking to experiment with robots and drones now, although this is yet to receive wide adoption. Knightscope is a company that has been at the forefront of this, despite some setbacks that could have limited its expansion. Arguably, it would take a while before people get used to autonomous vehicles moving around them, but as far as providing security is concerned, they present an effective option.

Ensuring solid security

With increasing safety concerns worldwide, security solutions are no longer considered a necessary evil. Commercial sites like malls are increasingly concerned with maintaining a positive shopping and entertainment experience while delivering enhanced security. Integrated solutions that unify devices like surveillance cameras, fire systems and access control are the key to ensuring the best possible security in malls. These, along with new solutions like autonomous machines, could pave way for tighter security without causing inconvenience to visitors. However, there is no silver bullet to this. A combination of the right technologies is the best way to go.
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