#
 

Letís Take a Walk! Does Your Parking Facility Look and Feel Safe?

March, 2023

Brandy Stanley and Bob Harkins

This is an introductory article to be followed with a presentation at the Parking Industry Expo, PIE. Come join Brandy and Bob as they discuss this important topic.


It is 2023 in the parking world, and technology has helped to speed transactions and automate operations. However, if a parking garage or parking lot is unsafe, or perceived to be unsafe, the owner can have all the bells and whistles of a modern operation, but will most likely fail. As owners, managers, or operators we must force ourselves to answer the question: “DOES YOUR PARKING FACILITY LOOK AND FEEL SAFE?” 


All facilities are vulnerable, and unfortunately, violent activities such as robbery, rape, and murder occur in a parking facility setting. So, let’s take a walk! We will look for:


• Passive Security


- Appearance


- Lighting


- Signage


- Landscape


- CCTV


• Active Security


- Communications


- Security Patrols


- Homeless Mitigation


- Emergency Action Plan


- Staff Training


Appearance: Is the facility inviting, clean, attractive, and bright? Is the facility or lot free of trash and absent of graffiti? What does the outside of the facility look like? Are there things that are broken or cracked in or outside the facility? If there is fencing around a lot, is it clear of debris? What does it look, smell and feel like in the elevators and stairwells? The perception of some facilities may be upgraded through the use of new bright paint.


Lighting: Lighting can be the most critical aspect of the perception of a safe facility. Are there shadows, dark spots and areas that can hide danger? It is amazing how an update in lighting can make a facility be perceived as safe and secure. There are often rebates for energy efficient fixtures, which means newer modern lighting fixtures may pay for themselves quickly.


Signage: Is the signage clean and informative to customers? Are they easily understood? Signage should simplify the pathway for driving lanes and the route to exit the facility. Are there clearly marked pedestrian routes to the elevators? Is the facility fully compliant with OSHA or local Fire Marshal regulations for exit doors, exit routes, and evacuation planning? Are panic buttons or help buttons clearly marked? Is the process to exit the facility easy to understand?


Landscaping: Look outside the facility or along the perimeter of the parking lot. Trees and bushes can add to the attractiveness, but can also form hiding places or dark spots. Flowers are very inviting and do a lot to enhance the perception of safety. Sidewalks and approaches to the facility must be clean, serviceable and clearly marked.


CCTV: Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras are useful in any post event analysis. There should be cameras at all entrances, exits, stairways, exterior areas and elevators for the facility. How long should footage be kept and who should have access to the system? 


Communications: There may be a need to evacuate the facility because of an emergency. Several aspects of communications are important for safe and secure operation of a parking facility. 


Security Patrols: Security patrols can be expensive and difficult to manage, but they do provide both the perception of safety and are an active security measure that can deter problems and call quickly for first responder assistance when it is needed. Security patrols can also proactively identify facility issues and communicate them to management.


Homeless Mitigation: There are several ways to mitigate homeless activities: changing hardware on water spigots, locking covers on exterior outlets, prompt cleanup of items typically found in an encampment, and extra lighting in corners and alcoves are a few examples.


Emergency Action Plan: A well thought out plan and respective training is crucial. The emergency action plan needs to include prepared messages, and easy to follow instructions. Communications with customers should be prepared and the staff trained on their use. What messages should be posted on the facility website during an emergency?


Staff Training: Staff should be trained for emergency events such as an active shooter situation, fire emergency and bomb threats. Actions by staff can be developed or honed through the use of a tabletop training event. All training should drive to answer three basic questions: What do we want staff to do? What do we want the customer to do? How does the staff communicate with the customers? Reliance on the “RUN, HIDE, FIGHT” technique is a good start.


Reach Bob Harkins at bharkins6@utexas.edu and Brandy Stanley at brandy.stanley@flashparking.com


 



#