Wireless Video Surveillance System Protects Illinois Mall

Merchants, assets and shoppers at the 1 million-square-foot Golf Mill Shopping Center in Niles, Ill., are better served since the installation this month of a new wireless video surveillance system. Multiple network cameras inside and outside the mall deter theft, provide footage for review of insurance claims, enable rapid response to incidents and emergencies, and serve as an efficiency improvement tool.

At the heart of this installation is a wireless network provided by Firetide Inc., a developer of wireless mesh and access networks.

Over the past few years Golf Mill added exclusive restaurants, a movie theater, an off-track betting facility and a 24 Hour Fitness gym, resulting in increased vehicle and visitor traffic, requiring additional security measures.

To avoid the costly process of ripping up newly installed floors to lay network cables for video surveillance, mall management General Growth Properties, in tandem with ownership, opted for the Firetide wireless network. Solutions provider Secure Integrations installed network cameras from Axis Communications in overt locations around the 120 specialty shops, four department stores and 89 acres of parking spaces, and connected them wirelessly over the Firetide network to the central security office in the mall.

“Our Firetide wireless surveillance system is a great tool to assist our tenants and customers,” said Michael D. Williams, senior general manager at General Growth Properties. “Whatever the situation -- someone slipping and falling, shoplifting or a major incident -- our security staff can respond quickly and proactively.”

Mall security officers monitor the camera system, and video analytics software alerts officers when unauthorized movements are detected. During patrols, officers can access the video feed on PDAs, allowing officers to view feeds from any location, making the officers significantly more efficient.

“Using cable and analog CCTVs would have cost a minimum of three times more in 1 million square feet of retail space,” said Eugene Szatkowski, president of Secure Integrations. “A wired system would have required the installation of multiple digital video recorders around the mall. Firetide wireless mesh nodes and access points together with the Axis cameras provide a cost-effective and flexible alternative, and support what we believe to be the largest wireless security network in a retail environment.”

If any part of the network needs to be relocated, a Firetide node and Axis camera can be moved in a day. The Axis network cameras feature motion detection, audio detection and tampering alarms, providing additional set of tools to security personnel. Video footage is stored for 30 days, but any time an incident takes place the evidence can be cataloged for up to two years. The system uses digital storage, which makes it easier to e-mail and distribute the video. Mall officials also use the footage to monitor traffic flows, helping event planners and security operations to anticipate and better manage crowds.

“Facilities management companies recognize that the benefits of wireless video surveillance are multifaceted,” said Bo Larsson, chief executive officer of Firetide. “Decreasing safety risks and incidents, improving the efficiency of security personnel, serving tenants and visitors, and better managing increased traffic flows are excellent examples of how Firetide technology improves facilities management and security operations.”

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