What Malls Need In a Video Security Solution

Aug 16, 2016

Shopping Mall 2.jpgDespite several notable closures as well as the recent struggles of many of the mid-market retailers, such as JCPenney and Sears in the U.S., that often serve as mall anchor stores, high-end malls continue to thrive, as do other concentrated forms of retail such as suburban strip malls. The U.S. Department of Commerce estimated that even in May 2016, only 7.7 percent of all U.S. retail sales took place online, hinting at the central role that brick-and-mortar establishments, including malls, continue to play in the country's economy.

Video use cases in shopping malls

As they evolve to compete with e-commerce and smaller standalone stores, malls can greatly benefit from video systems, which helps explain why these buildings (along with similar retail outlets) were among the first commercial properties to install cameras on their premises. How does video help strengthen the position of malls? In practice, it serves several critical functions:

  • Reduce theft: Cameras are useful both for theft deterrence and evidence-gathering. Their visible presence may help discourage would-be thieves and shoplifters who might otherwise feel free to make off with merchandise. Hi-res video footage can also be used to identify possible suspects after the fact.
  • Protect property: Car robberies - sometimes called "smash and grabs" - are increasingly common in affluent cities such as San Francisco, according to The New York Times. Malls in particular can amplify this issue, since there is often a high concentration of vehicles in their vicinities. Outdoor video cameras can help control this particular threat.
  • Assist security personnel: In busy malls, it can be difficult for security teams to keep up with all of the incidents of loitering, customer harassment and suspicious behavior. Video cameras extend a security presence to locations without human guards, promoting safety throughout the facility.
  • Improve brand and reputation: A more secure mall is a more popular and welcoming mall. Theft and other crime can discourage shoppers from visiting, which is why video systems can make such a difference for mall operators by reducing their frequency and fostering a sense of security.

For these reasons and others, video systems utilizing CCTV cameras have become mainstays in malls across the world. But not all such solutions are created equal. Malls can be uniquely challenging locations to monitor, due to their vast sizes and large volumes of visitors. With these potential obstacles, what should mall operators look for in video systems for security?

What a mall video system should ideally include

Start with adequate coverage. Malls are complex structures, often with multiple retail corridors, floors, food courts and parking lots. Any worthwhile video solution must serve as the mall security team's "eyes and ears" across the entire premises.

Keeping an eye on the mall as a whole

Accordingly, video systems must:

  • Capture clear images across great distances.
  • Be able to perform well in low-light conditions, such as parking lots in the evening.
  • Be scalable, with the ability to handle many potential nodes.
  • Support features such as digital zoom, pan-tilt-zoom cameras and easy footage searchability.

These technical features ensure that video is optimally captured. Ensuring the value of your video solution does not stop there, however. Its supporting infrastructure must also be sound, in order to allow for proper data storage and long-term resilience.

Capturing and carrying video data

Video is the most demanding type of media, due to its large file sizes as well as the complications that come with capturing a live feed in high quality and with low latency. For mall video security systems to work, they must have appropriate infrastructure in place to support video transfer from cameras back to central repositories that may be on the other side of the complex, or even at another site.

Cabled or wireless mesh systems may be implemented for this purpose. The latter is usually quicker, easier and more cost-effective to implement. High bit rates and seamless connectivity between the different cameras in the solution are also essential for relaying the video to security personnel for review.

Case study: How a public safety video system works in real life

Supporting the extensive and complex video solution required in malls may seem innately challenging, but it can be done with next-generation communications technology. In Thailand, Firetide implemented the world's longest wireless mesh network to support a live video monitoring system for the Royal Irrigation Department of Thailand.

The implementation could successfully send HD video data from network nodes to a command center over a distance of 70 kilometers, across 4 hops. Constant availability was ensured through various redundancy measures such as the use of GateWay Servers and Network Gateway Interfaces to prevent Spanning Tree Protocol loops. The customer chose the Firetide HotPort 7000 Series for its multi-input multi-output (MIMO) capabilities, which would help with long-term scalability.

Malls can benefit from similar video systems capable of carrying HD footage across great distances. To find out more about public safety solutions, visit today!

Category: Public Safety