Mall security in Vancouver has gained the attention of the media after the Nairobi’s brutal attack of two weeks ago. “It’s a turmoil of communications when something shocking like that happens. Our mall customers ask us what we’re doing, and we have given awareness information and intel information as much as we possibly could,” said Gary Lok, president with Integritas Security Group. Gary said the Nairobi attack upsets those charged with protecting what law enforcement officials call “soft targets”, by reminding them that places like shopping malls, boutiques and hotels offer easy access to the public and to potential offenders.
So, after the Nairobi terrorist attack, mall security precautions are one of the hot topics at ASIS 2013, a security convention going on this week in Chicago. Some 20,000 security professionals are discussing the latest technologies and trends in what has become a $350 billion industry according to ASIS International. The newest security product displayed, has a very ambitious aim which is to stop an attack before it begins.
Tyco Security Products, has showed off an integrated surveillance system that can help study patterns, allowing security guards to find out unusual activity. Using images of convention attendees visiting the company’s booth, it has been shown how the system creates a bar graph of the traffic scheme, with spikes when activity was heaviest. That could come in handy securing a mall. “That might be a number of people milling about where they shouldn’t, it could be going through a door the wrong way, any piece of data in our system can now be showed, helping to find patterns and bringing to act and prevent events I might not otherwise be able to do.” The system can also combine real-time and recorded video to help authorities locate an active shooter in a mall.
But even using a sophisticated technology or high trained security guards, experts warn that a determined attacker could be able to do considerable damage, and they worry it is only a matter of time before a Nairobi-style attack is attempted in the U.S or Canada.
Michael Bouchard, a former U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent who is now an international security specialist, noted that in many cases, malls leaves it up to shoppers to be vigilant, including making an escape plan in case of an emergency. “It’s hard for people to do this, but they need to imagine a scenario in their mind that dangerous gunmen come through here. What would I do? If you don’t do those kinds of things and it happens, you tend to just freeze in place”.