Whichever access control solution you use, make sure that it works efficiently. Wait times aren’t simply an inconvenience to users, they can also create traffic jams that lead to security issues, cautions Robinson. The less time someone needs to enter or exit your parking area, the fewer opportunities there are for something to go wrong.
You should also assess surveillance capabilities. Cameras can detect an event in progress, provide recorded evidence of an incident, and demonstrate due diligence on your company’s behalf.
“No matter what type of surveillance you use, the most important thing is that you analyze and act on any information you’ve captured,” Robinson says.
If you can’t dedicate personnel to watch a live video feed, consider analytics. This embedded software monitors images according to a set of rules. If a camera perceives activity that violates one of the rules, such as the pattern of how a person walks between cars when searching for unlocked ones, it will create an alert.
There are many applications specific to traffic management, such as wrong-way detection, license plate readers, speeding, illegal parking, and congestion. Intrusion detection, facial recognition, and suspicious activity for crowds or objects can also be useful depending on your risk profile.
“The whole purpose of analytics is to look for irregular activity,” explains Ahrens. “Alerts can prompt security personnel to prioritize the video, encourage better situational awareness feed more closely, and support the overall response to an incident.”
Even motion detection, which is based on a change in pixels rather than image analysis, can improve your surveillance. Cameras can turn on only when cued by motion to conserve bandwidth usage or when movement is detected when none should be present, such as after hours.
In addition to surveillance, patrols are a smart move if you have the labor force, Ahrens adds. Whether doing a walkthrough on foot or taking a swing through in a vehicle, a human presence can curb incidents in the same way a police car cruising through a neighborhood can. It also serves as a reassurance to parking users that their safety is a priority for management.
At the very least, offer guests and employees the option to use an escort to and from a parking area, particularly in the evening hours. In the complete absence of security personnel or lot attendants, make sure to install call-for-assistance devices, Ahrens stresses. Like the blue poles installed on college campuses, these units will send a distress signal to staff or the local authorities. This ensures that occupants have an immediate way to communicate an emergency and don’t have to rely on their personal cell phones. More importantly, these devices call attention to the area as having witness potential.
While you can’t avoid that improving parking security will require a capital expenditure, investing in safety measures is never a waste of money. Treating your parking like an asset and securing necessary investments will result in lots and garages that remain functional and safe for all users.
Jennie Morton firstname.lastname@example.org is senior editor of BUILDINGS.