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Protecting parking lots: threats and solutions to know

Protecting parking lots: threats and solutions to know
The increasing number of cars and the time they are left idle at parking lots make the security of these spaces extremely important.
Parking is an integral part of owning a vehicle. In fact, studies have shown that most cars are parked 95 percent of the time. Parking takes up about one-third of land area in U.S. cities, and nationwide, there are an estimated eight parking spaces for every car.
The increasing number of cars and the time they are left idle at parking lots make the security of these spaces extremely important. For most commercial parking lots, theft and other security breaches are a primary concern. But given the size of parking lots and the costs of maintaining them, ensuring security is not always easy.
Physical security solutions, especially surveillance cameras, can help in protecting parking lots without breaking the bank. Customers who have not used surveillance cameras at their parking lots can start by identifying areas they want to monitor and considering the type of camera they would need. For those who may already have cameras in place but want to take more advantage of them, using analytic solutions would make sense.
This article explores the benefits of using video surveillance solutions at parking lots and helps you decide the kind of camera and the advanced features like video analytics necessary to ensure maximum security.

Major concerns at parking lots

Discussions about parking lots are often centered around the cars that make use of the space. While this is the most critical part of a parking lot, there are other aspects that parking lot owners will have to consider.
Security of the staff, infrastructure, and any other assets is crucial. More than ever, cybersecurity and privacy of any data captured are also critical. Below are four main security concerns that parking lot owners must consider.

Various kinds of crime

Theft is often the most significant concern at parking lots. This can include theft of external components like side mirrors and wheels, interior components like batteries and radios, or an entire car itself. Thieves may also look for things like laptops or wallets that users may have left. Stealing parts and items require only a short time, zero witnesses, and an easy escape route. Other violent crimes like carjackings or strong-arm robberies are also potential concerns, although not so common.

Customer and staff safety

The security of the customer and staff is critical to the business. This could be a part of theft and robberies, or from accidents. Some areas may be more prone to accidents, like stairwells and crosswalks. Monitoring these areas is crucial, and ensuring that customers know they are being monitored would make them feel safer.

Optimizing costs

Businesses should always try to reduce costs as much as possible. But if your parking lot is prone to thefts and accidents, the cost of insurance would increase. Surveillance cameras can mitigate this concern by improving security and ensuring crime/accidents remain low. Insurance companies may also become more confident to offer better rates if they know you are using robust surveillance systems.

Choosing the right surveillance solution

Decisions on which camera to use at a parking lot would depend on factors like size and lighting conditions. If your parking lot is large, you need a camera that can cover wide areas. Wide angle, fisheye, or PTZ cameras would come in handy here.
Cameras that work in low light are essential if you don’t have adequate lighting. Fortunately, some of the latest cameras can provide excellent color vision even in near-complete darkness. On a related note, it is also important to remember that parking lot cameras are installed in outdoor settings, which means they are vulnerable to rain, dust, and other environmental issues. Make sure the camera you purchase is intended for outdoor use.
Choosing a camera may not be difficult for most customers but what you would need to pay more attention to is the analytics. Video analytics can significantly reduce security concerns and improve efficiency but knowing the right features is essential.

Instant alerts on accidents

Security operators at large parking lots may not be able to monitor each area all the time. Unfortunately, this can lead to them being unaware of issues like accidents. Video analytics solutions can do this job, monitoring all the areas around the clock and instantly alerting the people concerned when an accident or other untoward incident occurs.

License plate recognition

Using license plate recognition, you can automate access control. This will speed up the entry and exit process while operators keep track of the parking location. When matched with watchlists of known offenders or stolen cars, license plate recognition can also help authorities reduce security risks.

Space availability and occupancy

Video analytics can also help you know how many vacant or occupied spaces are, optimizing resources and use. Operators can instantly guide cars to vacant areas, reducing wasted time and offering a hassle-free experience.

Dynamic pricing

In some cases, parking lots may charge higher fees when the demand is high, especially during peak hours. Video analytics can help them understand the increased demand, either in real-time or from data gathered over a period of time.

Actionable operational insights

Data gathered over a period of time can also help parking lot owners understand operational insufficiencies. For instance, there may be areas within a parking lot that drivers find difficult to maneuver through. Or there may be areas that are vulnerable to accidents. Knowing these concerns can help operators take better action.

Ensuring the right software-hardware combination

According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, over 10 percent of all property crimes occur in a parking lot. The National Safety Council has found that, on average, at least 60,000 are injured, and 500 or more die in the 50,000-plus crashes in parking lots and garages every year.
This means that physical security solutions with analytics are essential to parking lots. They can help reduce crime and accidents and improve operational efficiency to reduce costs. The right combination of hardware and software can help parking lot businesses improve their earnings.
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