4 Common Mistakes Made in Mall Security

Posted by Indigo Hansen on Feb 4, 2019 5:30:00 PM
Indigo Hansen

Whether you love to hate or hate to love him, it's undeniable he is an icon for the industry. When we're talking about mall and retail security, we're talking about none other than Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

In a sense, Paul Blart is portrays what's wrong with traditional security: poor efficiency and old school technology combined with limited resources and an uphill battle to deter crime.


Paul Blart


Disclaimer: this article isn't a slam on Paul Blart. If you haven't seen the film, Paul is the unexpected underdog who saves the day when the mall is taken under siege by a criminal group on Black Friday.

Nonetheless, the film sets the stage for some common pain points that we have found in retail security.

1. Little to no automation

Automation who?

It starts with something as simple as checking whether a door is locked after hours. To check one door, one time, it may only cost a fraction of a dollar in terms of labor hours.

But consider this:

  1. You have a 400,000 square foot luxury shopping mall with over 30 entrances.
  2. Securing these 30-ish access points could take an officer anywhere from 30-45 minutes.
  3. Your security officers make $17 per hour.
  4. Each door has to be checked before opening hours and after closing hours.

This equates to about $25 per day and $9,300 per year.


Smart lock


Utilizing simple automation tools like automatic locks, lighting, access control, and intelligent cameras can vastly improve a facility's efficiency. Rather than officers and facility managers spending time on monotonous tasks, they can tackle problems relating to strategy and management.

Automation helps teams work smarter, not harder.

2. High traffic areas with low-tech tools

"Alexa, make my security system smarter."

Picture your home. Chances are, you have one or more of the following:


Smart Kitchen


From this list, you might have noticed a common thing. Everything is smart. This is no coincidence, IoT devices have transformed our homes, offices, vehicles, and everything in between. Phone books and landline phones are simply relics from the past.


Homer Simpson with Phone Book


Our homes are souped-up with the latest and greatest in consumer electronics. We can control the lighting, security settings, temperature, and even music from our phones or with our voices.

So why are security officers working with decades-old tools?

The average officer is typically equipped with:

  • Walkie-talkie (circa 1937)
  • A set of keys (4000 BC)
  • Flashlight (1899)
  • Baton (1856), stun gun (1960s), or pepper spray (1965)

Compared to the last list, these items don't have quite the same IQ. Officers are working in the 21st century and patrolling with 20th century technology.

Security officers can work side-by-side with state-of-the-art technology. IoT devices are accessible from the palm of their hand with mobile app integrations. Efficient workflows are implemented with the help of thoughtful automation. Long run costs are reduced with short term investments.


Remote control Nimbo

Want to learn more about our security automation tools? 



3. Insufficient surveillance coverage

"Sorry, I didn't get that." - Your CCTV cameras

Negligence. This is a risk facing security teams and companies across the United States.

To paint a picture: a woman was attacked in a San Diego mall parking garage, and she sued the mall for negligence on the basis that the attack was foreseeable given recent mall crimes, a poor security presence, and next-to-no video footage.

The culprit was released due to lack of evidence, and when the case went to court, the jury scoffed at the video footage: poorly placed, pixelated, and lagging.

Surveillance is limited in most American shopping malls. Cameras are old, outdated, and often not thoughtfully placed. In a perfect world, we don't have to sacrifice quality for quantity. But in reality, we have budgets, deadlines, and organizational red tape.

So what's the right answer?

Invest in quality products that you can afford.

Installing 50-100 security cameras isn't a solution that most facilities are willing to deploy immediately. However, by strategically placing high-res, smart surveillance cameras near high-traffic or high-risk areas, the value can be maximized despite a smaller-scale budget.




4. Not leveraging cross-functional technology

Two birds, one stone

Cost is one of the biggest hinderances for security investments. After all, security is not a sexy purchase. It's a cost that often doesn't reveal its value for months, if not years.

There is a beautiful workaround for this rationale: cross-functional technology.

This trend has emerged in recent years, where real estate, hospitality, and facility maintenance groups are investing in solutions that serve dual purposes.


Pepper Robot


For example, we stayed at Yotel in Manhattan for last year's ISC East show. When you walk into the lobby, the first thing to catch your eye is a massive glass window with Yobot, a 15' robotic arm, behind it. This robot was built to securely store and retrieve luggage for visitors.




The second thing to catch your eye is the line of 10-15 people waiting to take their photo with the robot, and some entrusting their belongings to the robot purely for curiosity's sake.

For Yotel, this is more than an easy way to store luggage. This is a PR stunt that will continue to pay off for years to come. If you search #Yobot on Instagram, you will find over a thousand tagged posts. If you search #Yotel, you'll find another 50,000.

Features as simple as offering promotions for select stores, giving directions to new visitor, or helping a young child find its parent can turn any visitor into an evangelist.

This concept can be leveraged with security robots as well. Security robots provide the mobile surveillance that most malls lack, while increasing engagement and improving the shopper's experience. Features as simple as offering promotions for select stores, giving directions to new visitor, or helping a young child find its parent can turn any visitor into an evangelist.

In the same vein, A.I.-based video analytics can be applied to existing security cameras to provide data on foot traffic, loss prevention, and event prediction. This data aides decision-making for security, operations, marketing, and sales teams.


Video Analytics Counter


To learn more about security robotics and video analytics, talk to our team.



Topics: Deterrence, Automation, Smart Security, Autonomous, Emerging Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Technology Trends, Nimbo, IoT devices, CCTV, Machine learning, Edge devices