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How to Improve Security at Outdoor Shopping Centers

retail stores in an outdoor shopping center

Whether outlets, strip malls, or other outdoor shopping centers, there are many people, places to go, things to see, and more. From a security perspective, this also means there are many things to secure, monitor, and protect. Here’s how to improve security at outdoor shopping centers:

1. Start With Security Risk and Vulnerability Assessments

When it comes to improving security and obtaining comprehensive security, an essential first step is a security risk and vulnerability assessment. You need to know what your security risks, threats, and concerns are in order to get the right solutions and configurations that will cover them.

Additionally, you also need to consider the systems and processes you already have in place. There are likely gaps and vulnerabilities that need to be addressed. There may also be equipment that needs to be repaired or replaced on top of new systems that need to be installed and integrated.

Going through a vulnerability assessment checklist and working with an experienced security systems integrator can identify all of these areas as well as the right products, systems, and integrations to meet your needs. This helps to ensure a truly comprehensive security solution.

2. Ensure Comprehensive Video Surveillance

Comprehensive video surveillance is an essential part of security for any facility and especially for large areas, outdoor areas, and outdoor shopping centers. With so many high-value items, potentially hidden areas, and so many people, security cameras can help protect everyone and everything. This is one of the biggest benefits of comprehensive video surveillance systems.

Truly comprehensive video surveillance goes beyond just security cameras. Having coverage for entries and exits, secluded areas, and other best places to install security cameras is a good start. Beyond that, it’s crucial to have the right types of cameras with the right capabilities in the right places, and security cameras need to be integrated with other security systems.

This will help monitor all areas, all the time, and in real-time while also working seamlessly with other systems. Not only will this help prevent and reduce incidents, but it will also improve response and overall safety in the case of an incident. This is one of the benefits of integrated security systems.

3. Implement Effective Communications Systems

In a large area with multiple stores within one complex or campus, efficient communication is essential. Communication should be available between stores, between security and stores, between security and the public, and more.

Communications & intercom systems, mass notification systems, and more can all help you create an effective communications infrastructure to keep things running efficiently for everyday situations and to communicate quickly, accurately, and effectively during emergencies.

Real-time alerts and updates, accurate messaging, and customized messaging are some of the benefits of mass notification systems. In addition to having the technology and systems in place, also consider what other communication methods you need. In some cases, this could be text messaging and emails along with a mix of loudspeakers, digital message boards, and more.

4. Install the Right Alarm Systems

Most outdoor shopping centers are not open 24 hours a day or every day of the year. Because of their open-air layouts and access, this can create a unique situation when it comes to access control and keeping things secure when everything is closed.

In addition to things like video surveillance, alarm systems can help you lock down areas when they are closed and keep stores secure. Scalability and ease of installation are some reasons to consider wireless alarm systems, but the right approach for a specific outdoor shopping center could be a mix of wired and wireless alarm systems.

5. Create Clear Incident Response Procedures

Outdoor shopping centers are known for their open layouts and open-air shopping experiences. This is also one of the reasons they are popular with shoppers. But, these same attractive features can easily become dangerously chaotic during emergencies.

As part of your shopping center security plan, it is crucial to create and define clear incident response procedures. These should be documented and everyone involved should be trained on them. In addition to any mass notification approach in an emergency, emergency plans, exits, evacuation procedures, etc. for the public should be clearly posted and communicated.

Additionally, incident response software can be valuable in preparing incident response procedures, managing incidents as they occur, and reviewing incidents afterward to make improvements. These are all reasons why you need incident management software.

6. Consider the Perimeter

Outdoor shopping centers usually take up a lot of space. Not only does this usually mean large parking lots, but it also means property boundaries that can be quite far away from the center itself.

This makes good perimeter security and protection important. Depending on the individual shopping center, this could be a mix of parking bollards, fencing, gates, and other perimeter protection technologies in addition to video surveillance and other monitoring.

7. Have the Right Security Systems and Staff

Having the right security systems in place is one of the best ways to improve building security. Beyond that, another way to improve security at outdoor shopping centers, or anywhere, is to make sure you have the right security personnel and enough of them in place.

Different facilities, operations, etc. will have different needs when it comes to security personnel, but it’s important to get it right for your location. This could mean on-site or remote specialists who run and monitor certain systems in addition to security officers that are physically present and regularly patrol the property.

Plain-clothes officers and undercover officers can both help deter theft and crime. In addition, security officers should be trained in emergency response. Not only can they potentially assist in addressing emergencies, but they can also help direct shoppers to reduce panic, manage crowds, and assist them in evacuating more calmly and safely.

8. Plan For Scaling Up Security on High-Traffic Days

Holidays tend to be high-traffic seasons for retail and this is also true for outdoor shopping centers. These shopping centers likely also see higher fluxes of people on the weekends. Depending on various factors, there may also be other high-traffic times to consider for your location. Your security needs to be able to handle it.

Some qualities of good security systems are that they are flexible, customizable, integrated, and scalable. Whatever security solutions you have in place need to be able to support the shopping center when it is far busier than usual. Part of your security budget planning and risk approach should include extended security protocols and strategies for how to handle these high-traffic times that also present more risks.

Get Comprehensive Security For Your Outdoor Shopping Center With NEPPS

These are just a few ways to improve security at outdoor shopping centers. Every location will be different and have different needs and considerations. As such, the right mix of security products and commercial security solutions will vary.

Choosing the right security systems integrator can go a long way in ensuring you get the comprehensive security you need for your location. If you need to implement or upgrade security at your location, contact NEPPS at 1-800-736-1436 to start a conversation or to schedule a free site assessment!