How New Technology is Transforming Safety and Customer Service in Parking

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How New Technology is Transforming Safety and Customer Service in Parking

Like most women, I’m always on heightened alert whenever I’m walking alone to and from my car, especially in a parking garage. No matter how well-lit or how well-maintained the parking garage is, there’s something about parking garages that keeps my head on swivel and my keys in hand, ready to use them as a makeshift weapon should the need arise. Likely a combination of Hollywood plots, sensationalized headlines, and the very real unique security concerns that are inherent to parking facilities makes it so I don’t feel at ease until I’m safely in my car and turning out of the garage.

There’s a convergence taking
place between people,
infrastructure and monitoring.

Traditional Security Features Have Let Guests Down in the Past

I was once almost robbed in a parking lot. I was in my early twenties, leaving a movie theater at night time in an affluent area with a female friend. We hadn’t seen each other in a while, I was visiting from out of town. As we walked back to my car, we chatted, oblivious to the person following us. The lot was full of cars, it wasn’t especially empty of other people and the companionship of my friend blunted the normal awareness I possessed when navigating parking areas alone.

As we got into my 2007 silver Dodge Caliber, a stranger let herself into the backseat of my car, and told us to hand over our phones. As my friend handed over her phone, I thought to myself, “oh no, I just bought this $500 Palm Pre!” I don’t know what overcame me, but as I saw no weapon in hand, and this would-be robber was also a woman, I refused. I didn’t hand over my phone, instead I yelled for her to get out of my car! But she wouldn’t get out of my car. So, I turned the car off and told her she could stay there for as long as she wanted and I was getting help. She then got out of my car and walked off into the night, weaving between the parked cars at a meandering pace, no rush whatsoever in her step.

Perhaps my reaction was foolish, things could have gone in a completely different, possibly deadly direction. But for good or worse, my knee-jerk fight or flight response that evening was to fight. While the police arrived very quickly, the would-be cell-phone robber was long gone. They fingerprinted my car, and weeks later I was given a photo lineup to consider, her face missing from the many photos they showed me. She was never found.

Yes, there was a security guard there that evening. But no security guard can be everywhere in a parking lot, let alone a multi-tiered parking garage. Nice facilities didn’t keep my robber from attempting her theft. The well-lit parking lot didn’t stop her from following us or letting herself into the backseat to make her demands. Being in a very affluent area in the DC suburbs didn’t mean we were safe.

How the Technology of Today Can Solve Security Problems 

Today, that experience might have been different. New technologies, like remote monitoring with advanced analytic-powered cameras, mean that parking garages can keep a watchful eye on every nook and cranny of their facilities. Had remote monitoring been deployed that evening, built-in artificial intelligence could have proactively identified us being followed by a stranger. A live human agent from the monitoring center would have been able to speak directly to us and the robber, warning that the incident was being recorded, which likely would have deterred her from attempting her cellphone heist. The cameras would have been able to provide evidence had she not been deterred, and police could have been on their way much, much earlier, greatly increasing the chance of apprehension.

These are the kinds of outcomes Alco Parking is experiencing with their recent adoption of Remote Guarding from Edgeworth Security in several of the Pittsburgh parking garages they manage. The success has spurred them to roll-out remote guarding in more of their properties.

In the past, Alco Parking has relied on security guards, but as in my experience, these guards simply can’t be everywhere, leaving opportunities for criminals to Exploit.

By making the investment in smart-technology, Alco Parking is provided a view of every corner of the garage. Remote Guarding by Edgeworth’s live agents have uncovered incidents that probably wouldn’t have been found by physical guards alone.

Mike Webb, Alco Parking Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, gives an example of one such incident, “We had a homeless guy that was camping out in one of our lobbies overnight. It’s doubtful the guard would have caught that. The cameras discovered it immediately, and we were able to address the issue. Without Remote Guarding, we probably would haven’t heard about it.”

Additionally, Mike has noticed the deterrent effect Remote Guarding has had on unwanted activity, “Once they [unwanted intruders] get the message that the garage is under surveillance, they tend to move on to other locations versus continuing to come back to our garage.”

An added benefit is the cost savings Remote Guarding provides while simultaneously improving security outcomes. Alco Parking always has an employee on site to serve customers at all times, it’s how they ensure a smooth process getting in and out of the garage. This physical presence is important for the guest experience. 

While Alco Parking continues to have this employee presence, Remote Guarding has alleviated the need to have a security guard on-site 24/7 at each parking garage. The investment in the cameras and switch to Remote Guarding will have paid for itself within a year and a half. This savings allows Alco Parking to look forward to investing in more innovative security solutions for their clients and parking guests. 

There’s a convergence taking place between people, infrastructure and monitoring. This new technology being leveraged by Remote Guarding allows the end user to get the right solution to their unique needs. Combinations of physical guards and monitoring stations and other pieces of technology can be customized for each unique case.

Parking garages need the right partner to implement a technology-based solution and maximize the value from marrying technology and on-site guarding. Edgeworth is a partner that helps parking facilities find the right combination of services to best meet their needs. Garages can count on Edgeworth to keep their technology in optimum working order with Tech Check, employ Remote Patrol to stop loitering, homelessness, theft and physical threats, and implement Help Assist in strategic places within the garage to give guests help stations and elevator assistance.

I know as a woman, I would feel a lot safer in any garage that was protected by Remote Guarding, and looking back to the time I was almost robbed in a parking lot, I can sincerely say that I really wish this technology had existed in 2009 and been utilized by the lot where I was almost robbed.

Katie McNeal is Chief Creative Officer / Owner at Go Bright Marketing. She can be reached at katie@gobrightmarketing.com

 

Article contributed by:
Katie McNeal
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