Market focus: Retail security

March 19, 2010
A roundup of recent security applications and installations

Golf Mill Shopping Center

With the addition of exclusive restaurants, a multiplex movie theater, an off-track betting facility and a 24-hour fitness gym, Golf Mill Shopping Center in Niles, Ill., felt that the increase in visitor and vehicle traffic warranted additional security measures. The mall management company, General Growth Properties, in tandem with the owners of the retail complex, decided to deploy a sophisticated video surveillance network that would proactively protect merchants and patrons throughout the million square feet of retail space and 89 acres of parking.

Without an existing cabling infrastructure in place - and no desire to incur the high cost of tearing up floors to hard wire a system - the complex needed someone to approach the mall surveillance solution from a different perspective. They hired Secure Integrations, a surveillance and security integrator, to design and implement an array of Axis Communications network cameras that could communicate over a multi-node wireless mesh network.

Secure Integrations installed 50 Axis network cameras to keep a watchful eye over a broad area that includes 120 specialty shops, four department stores, as well as after-hour venues such as restaurants and movie theaters, off-track betting and fitness centers, plus 89 acres of parking. The cameras are connected wirelessly over a Firetide mesh network to a central security office in the mall. Mall security officers can also access the video stream of any camera in the complex on their handheld PDAs as they traverse the property. The system also gives local police patrolling the area in their cruisers the ability to call up camera views of mall activity through a secure network access.

Mall security officers monitor the cameras from a central station as well as view the video feed on individual PDAs as they patrol the facility on their regular rounds. The multiple network cameras overtly mounted both inside and outside the mall have proved an excellent theft deterrent. The video footage has also been instrumental in thwarting fraudulent insurance claims and enabling staff to respond quickly to incidents and emergency situations.
With the addition of video analytics software, the mall management company monitors patron traffic patterns at every entrance into the complex and uses the data for marketing purposes.

In addition to providing high-resolution images, the Axis network cameras feature embedded analytics for motion and audio detection as well as tampering alarms to alert security officers to situations that require their attention. For the interior locations, Secure Integrations chose AXIS 216FD Network Cameras for their compact design and vari-focal lens and AXIS 214 PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) Network Cameras for their ability to operate in low light. For the exterior locations, the integrators chose AXIS 214 PTZ for their day-night light range, AXIS 225FD Network Dome Cameras for their ability to withstand inclement weather and tampering, and AXIS 233D Network Dome Cameras for their clear optical and digital zoom in monitoring the wide expanse of mall parking lots.

Another advantage of this wireless configuration is its flexibility. If any part of the network needs to be relocated, the node and the Axis camera can be moved and reinstalled in less than a day.

Golf Mill owners have been quick to realize a value from their surveillance system that extends beyond safety and security. "Our wireless network video surveillance system has been a great asset for our tenants and patrons," says Michael D. Williams, senior general manager at General Growth Properties. "Whatever the situation - someone slipping and falling, shoplifting, or unusual traffic congestion - our security staff can respond quickly and proactively."

Mall of America

The Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minn., has deployed the Pivot3 Serverless Computing array for video storage as part of a major upgrade. One of the largest malls in the world, Mall of America has more than four miles of storefronts, 13,000 employees, and hosts nearly 40 million visitors each year. The Serverless Computing Array running on Genetec Omnicast video management system software helped to improve the quality, speed and reliability of the surveillance system, which covers 4.2 million square feet of enclosed space - including a seven-acre indoor amusement park and a 1.2 million gallon aquarium.

"We have been working on a plan to double the size of this mall, and the combined storage and server solution provides us with the flexibility and the scalability needed to expand more efficiently," says Chris Lake-Smith, director of IT at Mall of America.

Systems integrator VTI Security recommended the platform, which uses 40 percent less power than a separate Fiber Channel (FC) SAN and server combination. The specification called for 15 days of storage at 24 frames per second and 4-CIF resolution (704 x 576), so the mall's IT department selected six of the supplier's CloudBank appliances, fitting 72 TB of storage capacity and six embedded servers into less than two feet of rack space.


T3 Motion Inc. has partnered with Target, one of the world's largest retailers, for nationwide deployment of T3 Series personal mobility vehicles at more than 100 Target stores. Target's Asset Protection team members will leverage these vehicles to help provide safe and secure parking lots at their stores throughout the U.S.

The all-electric T3 Series vehicles are produce zero gas emissions and are solely designed for professional security and public safety applications. The dynamic relationship between Target and T3 Motion also includes mutual strategic sponsorships of the National "Safe City" Foundation, which creates partnerships among law enforcement, business and community organizations to proactively reduce crime.

Reaching speeds up to 25 mph and designed with the input of law enforcement and security industry professionals, the T3 Series features a zero-degree turning radius and compact design - perfect for maneuvering through crowds and tight spaces. The vehicles include an integrated LED lighting system, and two rechargeable, lightweight batteries can be easily swapped out while in use for continual deployment.

West Edmonton Mall

The West Edmonton Mall (WEM), in Alberta, Canada, has selected and installed Synergis from Genetec for a major access control system upgrade. With the completion of the initial phase of the upgrade, security staff use the system to protect more 70 doors, with plans to continue expanding the system in the near future.

Prior to the installation, WEM had two disparate access control solutions in place which required several different access control cards, creating an administrative nightmare and taking up valuable resources in both the security and human resource (HR) departments. With the help of Contava, an Alberta-based security reseller and integrator, the upgrade provided WEM with the tools to be more efficient and expeditious in response to critical situations.

"The Active Directory integration in Synergis has taken a lot of the day-to-day administration work away from HR personnel who no longer have to wait for Security to issue or activate a badge," says Joseph Schuldhaus, VP of Information Technology at Triple Five Group of Companies, the owner and manager of West Edmonton Mall and Mall of America.

With Omnicast, the supplier's video surveillance solution, already managing more than 800 cameras at various Triple Five Group owned and managed properties, the integration of the two solutions has been another key benefit. In real-time, dispatch can see video of a door being opened along with the credentials of the employee who is accessing the door. The solutions have also enabled WEM to build and successfully implement an innovative application for remote door release.