According to a U.S. Department of Justice brief, because parking facilities comprise a large volume of space with relatively low levels of activity, crime is more likely to occur in a parking facility than in other commercial facilities. This is not just the obvious petty crimes like theft of and from vehicles, but also more serious crimes like assault and robbery. They can also be a hotbed for fraudulent law suits, due to slip-and-fall claims or accidents involving automobiles. Surveillance systems and other security technology can help the owners and operators of parking facilities do their utmost to promote a safe and secure environment, both in the interest of public safety and to avoid the liability of litigation.
It is difficult to calculate the return on investment (ROI) of a security system in a parking garage because much of the value is in what doesn’t happen. There are many incidents that are prevented or averted due to the system in place, and there is no way to know exactly how many of these there are or what the losses might have been.
With the great majority of the security resources in a casino focused on gaming operations, other areas of the facility may not seem as important from a security perspective. However, it’s time to reconsider. In many facilities, parking garages can be a significant source of risk to patrons and to the reputation of the casino.
There are many security products and solutions available to help you secure your parking garage and to provide a safe and secure facility for your guests and staff. The list includes lighting, surveillance cameras, public view monitors, license plate recognition, emergency telephones and call boxes, card access control, gates and guard patrols.
It can be daunting to decide what technology to purchase now, later, or not at all. Ultimately, what you decide to install in your parking garage will depend upon a number of factors, including your geographical location, how and when the parking garage is used and staffed, and of course, budget.
One of the most common customer complaints regarding parking garages is poor lighting. A well-lit parking garage is welcoming to customers and unwelcoming to potential criminals. The environment helps drivers and pedestrians to feel safe, especially when people are walking out of a casino with cash winnings.
Video surveillance and security cameras may be the most popular and widely used technology to secure a parking garage. Video surveillance solutions take many shapes and forms and are dependent upon numerous factors, including the parking garage layout, lighting, weather conditions and budget. In many cases, video surveillance can help to reduce liability as well. The conspicuous use of public view monitors can remind everyone, whether a customer, employee or potential criminal, that they are being watched.
Increasingly, casinos and gaming facilities are considering license plate recognition solutions that can create a record of a vehicle’s entry and exit time and can be used as evidence if a crime occurs. License plate recognition solutions can also reduce operational costs by reducing a surveillance operator’s time searching through video during an investigation. On a more positive note, the systems are widely used in gaming to record when a loyal customer comes on site so casino staff can provide a warm welcome.
Many parking garages employ emergency notification and alerting systems that provide several benefits, such as allowing guests and staff to alert security when they need help, in addition to expediting security officer response during an emergency. They can also be excellent customer service tools for employees, staff and guests. Additionally, emergency notification solutions function as a deterrent and help prevent crime by demonstrating a visible organizational commitment to a safe and secure environment.
Card access control systems are not only very popular with parking garages for collecting parking fees, but also for controlling access into and out of a parking structure. Depending on your budget, the system can be integrated with video surveillance systems and license plate recognition solutions for even greater functionality. Many casinos choose to incorporate gates and barriers as well to provide an effective way to control pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Newer systems operate from customers’ credit cards, rather than paper parking tickets, allowing the system to provide a positive identification in the event of criminal activity.
Well-trained security officers are an additional element to securing a parking facility, as their sheer presence can mitigate crimes, and they can be a first line of customer service or a first line of defense if something goes wrong. Depending on your system’s functionality and your property’s access policies, security officers can also use the parking lot security equipment to improve their efficiency and heighten security.
All of these security solutions can help mitigate liability and crime in your parking facility, but they won’t always prevent crimes or liability from happening. The right mix of technology can act both as a deterrent and as an investigative tool to manage liability.
Your parking garage is no different than other physical space on your casino property, and it should be properly secured. Take the time to consider your budget, your goals, who uses it and when, specific parking garage areas that may require more specialized security solutions than others and more.