Parking facilities have always made popular locations in horror films, with dim lighting, footsteps eerily following and shadows lurking to create classic scary scenes.  At the same time, these movies have unfortunately contributed to negative preconceived notions about parking safety in many patrons’ minds. 
However, parking operators have the opportunity to prove Hollywood wrong and offer patrons peace of mind by improving security in their garages and lots.  Parking facilities that dedicate efforts to enhanced safety and security measures can not only promote a better customer experience, but also improve overall business operations.
Securing a parking facility can be a challenge.  Most facilities have open access to any individual.  The sheer size of some facilities requires careful thought and consideration by all parties in visualizing the patron experience and constructing every aspect of a facility’s design.
Two ways parking operators can help improve the security of patrons, and meet business objectives, are by implementing an ongoing planning process based on best practices and using leading-edge technologies.  As a result, patrons who feel safe due to security precautions implemented throughout a facility will likely continue to use and recommend that particular facility. 
Best practices for securing a parking lot or garage should include:
  • Keeping all areas, especially stairwells, adequately illuminated.
  • Providing intercom call stations for stranded patrons or patrons requiring assistance.
  • Providing alarm stations that immediately summon security to the alarm station location (this is used predominately on university campuses).
  • Providing well-illuminated shelters for waiting patrons.
  • Providing intuitive directional instruction signs to areas, levels, terminals, shuttle stops, etc.
  • Designing parking lots and structures that minimize the distance required for the patron to access their vehicle, thus reducing the time spent outside their vehicle.
  • Installing CCTV systems (e.g. video surveillance) that are regularly monitored.
  • Displaying notifications about each facility’s safety measures (e.g. “This Facility is Under 24 Hour Surveillance”).
Utilizing leading-edge technology plays a substantial role in providing security for parking lots and garages.  Parking operators should look to new, advanced technologies to improve security and business operations.  For example:
  • Using a CCTV system, utilize imaging analysis software to detect if a person is loitering within the same area.  This provides a proactive method of responding to a potential security issue.
  • Using Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) with a blacklist that automatically notifies the operator if a vehicle enters the facility with a suspect license plate number.
  • Using ALPR to also offer parking patrons a service to find their car if they forgot where they parked (e.g. just scan a ticket and find your car’s location).
  • Using Emergency Notification and Alerting Systems to send alerts to registered patrons should a known issue arise in the facility.  Text message and email alerts may be sent to a patron’s cell phone or PDA to report an emergency or can also be used to regularly communicate new offerings and happenings at the facility.