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Richard Joslin, Global Director of Sales at PACOM Systems, explains how utilising a fully integrated security management system creates safer retail environments with the potential to enhance the customer experience and at the same time provide a highly flexible Security Solution

Shopping centres are faced with a myriad of security issues to consider. These range from theft, antisocial behaviour and terrorism to vandalism, violence towards staff and health and safety compliance – something that is very much in the forefront since the coronavirus pandemic. With resources already stretched and a higher demand to ensure safety leveraging, the use of security technology can be a major asset.

Need for speed

Protecting staff and customers requires quickly pinpointing the location of an incident, identifying the perpetrator(s) and putting measures in place to prevent further disruption. These actions are significantly hampered by disparate and fragmented security systems. Put simply, an ineffective security strategy will not enable adequate measures to be put in place to counter any risks or threats, and deal with them when they happen.

A centralised management system integrates CCTV, access control, intrusion detection, video, intercom, lifts, fire detection, lighting and virtually any other building management technology. Presenting data from multiple sources in a single pane of glass allows security professionals and facilities managers to see the bigger picture, optimise operations, automate actions and ensure the fastest possible response.

Covering all bases

Adopting a centralised management system means that users benefit from powerful remote monitoring, enhanced video control and standardised security policies across an entire estate. A fully integrated solution allows systems located in individual retail outlets to feed through into a centralised resource, offering a ‘belt and braces’ approach.

If an alarm goes off, shop staff will be alerted, as will shopping centre site management personnel, who are then able to take requisite action. This includes using remote investigation, whereby utilising the CCTV system to automatically move into pre-set configurations to provide an instant overview of what’s happening. Likewise, in the event of an incident, pre assigned procedures can be agreed in advance with each shop / business owner, thereby avoiding the duplication of certain actions this in turn offers a more enhanced service than other centres to the business owners. A centralised management system also provides an audit trail detailing the required procedures and actions, so it’s possible to prove that a predefined strategy was adhered too.

Added value

Security and access control technology has evolved to integrate features that go way beyond simple surveillance. For example, in the case of a site lockdown, it is possible to strategically manage the process by bringing lifts to a set position, locking external doors, isolating access control tokens, stopping escalators and adjusting lighting within specific areas. Access control technology can also be used to account for staff at muster points and identify those who have not ‘badged in’.

While security remains as much of a concern as ever, so too is making sure the customer experience is a positive one. As a result, retailers can expand on the use of Security technology such as Centralised management of the security portfolio and implement the use of business intelligence software tools that offer analytics.  These can increase levels of engagement, focus on promoting products, and provide information such as foot fall and heatmaps that show duration of time spent by customers in certain locations.

Knowledge is power

Data can be used to analyse footfall, shopper movement and behaviour, performance benchmarks, as well as product attraction and conversion. Every element of a shopping centre’s design and layout can be assessed, scrutinised and reconfigured to offer customers the best possible experience and identify areas that offer increased sales potential.

It can automatically identify risky behaviour, monitor and manage social distancing, facilitate people counting and enable contact tracing. Video verification, Automatic Number Plate Recognition, video analytics and greater integration of security and access control should therefore be considered vital business intelligence tools.  Moreover, newer technologies now allow CCTV cameras to empower businesses to identify known shoplifters, and share any relevant information with other retailers and law enforcement agencies.

Made to measure

Shopping centres are complex and constantly changing environments. As a result, retailers need to innovate by adopting new ways of preventing loss, engaging with customers and reacting positively to the dynamics that determine the way they shop. It’s therefore time to look beyond the one-dimensional view of security.

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