Shopping malls have a large mobile population every day; people shop, enjoy food, and have many entertainment activities in malls, especially during holidays. Managing the great increase in-store traffic during the holiday season is a challenge for many shopping center operation teams. While all the departments regard a pleasant experience for visitors as a top priority, the security department shoulders extra pressure during the holiday season due to the size of the crowd, the demographical change (more children and elder people in the traffic), more temporary installations in halls, etc. Here are the three most common pieces of advice or lessons learned from our customers.
1. Enable store staff to talk instantly as a group, discreetly
While the holiday season generates a lot more revenue than the regular days, store owners and mall operators usually need to invest extra for temporary manpower, training, and equipment. Licensed or license-free two-way radios are the no-brainer choice for stores, not only because they are intuitive to operate and require nearly no training to use, but also because no installation fees and no usage-based charges are needed. If a customer enters the store and wants a pair of shoes of a specified size, the staff can call the warehouse with radios to check whether the goods are in stock; the store manager can bring the whole team’s attention to some specific task instantly. Improved two-way communication facilitates team collaboration and leads to improved efficiency, profitability, and a better shopping experience for customers.
2. Provide situational awareness to security staff
As the main force to ensure the safety of shopping malls, security personnel needs to be equipped with professional devices, such as professional two-way radios, push-to-talk over cellular/Wi-Fi (PoC) radios, smartphones with a dedicated PTT button, and 4G body-worn cameras. Coupled with RFID or Wi-Fi-based indoor positioning technology and CCTV, the control room literally can easily see wherever the security staff locates and talk to them in a group or individually with the push of a button. Ubiquitous connectivity in the mall makes it possible for the control room to keep the staff across different posts informed in real-time with voice calls, text/multimedia SMS, alerts, etc.
Since it’s EDC (everyday carry), the device should be light in weight and compact in size. Coupled with audio and carry accessories, the device brings no extra pressure when operated frequently, especially when the users are in fast movement. Communication devices such as professional push-to-talk radios should offer good coverage in terms of both communication range and quality, helping the staff with reliable voice calls at the far edge of coverage.
3. Empower security guards with emergency responsiveness
When there is a crowd in a comparatively confined venue, there should be plans to handle emergencies. There are many people in the shopping malls, and the situation can get complex; and security guards need to respond to various incidents. In some rare and extreme situations such as active shooter and fire, it involves crowd evacuation. In such critical moments, professional two-way radios and systems offer lifeline communications for those who are responsible to evacuate the crowd, since the Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity may fail due to a power outage or malicious disruption. Professional two-way radios are capable of:
Alerting all the security staff with the alarm key. Depending on how the radios are configured, the alert goes to every guard, control room, and even the police office.
Announcing directions via the public address (PA) system. It is the most effective way to inform the crowd what’s the right thing to do and calm the crowd.
Connecting to the first responders. If the two-way radio system at the mall is set up in a way that it can be connected to a local police office or the 911 center with a gateway or other ways in case there is an emergency, the security personnel can better collaborate with first responders.
Due to the availability and reliability of two-way radios over cellphones or other devices relying on Wi-Fi or cellular networks, especially at workplaces during emergencies, we always recommend having a dedicated professional two-way radio system for the security staff at big shopping malls.