Malls are a popular destination throughout the year, especially during the holiday and summer seasons. From roller coasters to restaurants, facilities like the Mall of America, which spans over 5.6 million square feet, offer more than just shopping. However, this creates many unique security challenges. Destination shopping centers like these see millions of visitors each year. Because of this increase in foot traffic, these facilities must be ready for anything, including having a situational awareness technology strategy put into place.
Compared to other stand-alone businesses or schools, malls and amusement parks have unique security challenges that make it very difficult to manage on any given day, especially during times of crisis. Many malls and amusement parks have outdated technology that doesn’t even get close to fully addressing their safety needs. With updated situational awareness technology, these large facilities can quickly alert each business, no matter where they’re located on the premise. The proper technology also allows for patron alerting, ensuring that all individuals are well-informed and thus able to make educated life-safety decisions.
Situational awareness technology is most needed in the event of a mass shooting. The United States Congress defines a mass public shooting “as a single incident where four or more victims are murdered with firearms, not including the shooter, in a public location, unconnected to underlying criminal activity or any personal connection or argument.” Retail venues have endured a mass shooting every decade for nearly 60 years. According to the Violence Project, more than half of those have occurred in the last 15 years.
Due to this uptick in mall shootings, the need for large facilities to update their security technology has never been higher. Mall of America, the largest shopping and entertainment complex in North America with more than 520 retail stores and restaurants, has recently updated its situational awareness technology so that with a touch of a button, all guests, tenants, and team members can now be easily communicated with during any emergency. This includes everyone throughout the mall and parking garage.
In addition, they have a dashboard, allowing their security to manage any event. The team’s drills are differentiated from real emergencies by color-coded buttons, and specific types of emergencies and triggering reactions are broken down even further by additional colors. This color-coded guide allows the authorities and public to be notified quickly about any kind of incident and if there is a need to evacuate or lockdown.
Business owners and owners of malls want everyone who enters their facility to feel as safe as possible. Unfortunately, emergencies often happen during busy shopping and travel times, so large facility teams must be prepared. There is no one cure-all solution for security at destination spots, and no strategy or technology implemented can guarantee emergencies will not happen. However, if the situational awareness technology is customized to the large facility it’s being used in, and all necessary stakeholders know it exists and how to use it correctly, then the facility’s security team and staff will be as well-prepared as possible.
Every facility is designed differently and has unique security concerns. The best way to effectively address these concerns for both short-term and long-term impact is with situational awareness technology. This innovative technology is critical for a facility’s overall success throughout the year and is even more essential during the summer months patron volume is increased.
Danielle Myers is general manager and lead evangelist at Status Solutions. She has experience in several markets, including education, senior living, health care, manufacturing, hospitality and government. Danielle is a graduate of The Ohio State University and an expert on middleware integration technologies for situational and environmental awareness.