Blog - The KNOW

Situational Awareness: Combining Safety and Convenience

by Stacy Hunt


This blog post discusses the safety and security challenges that face convenience stores and how situational awareness can improve their risk management strategy.


Convenience stores have become an integral part of American life. With a store only 5 minutes away or less you can buy medicine for your sick child at 2 a.m., milk, butter or anything else you might have run out of, oil for your car, fill up on gas or buy snacks for your road trip. However the downside to this convenience means long operating hours which makes these businesses vulnerable to robbery and violent crime. It is vital for customers, employees and convenience store owners to have a safe and secure environment.  This is where situational awareness technologies can make an impactful difference.

In 2012, “the robbery rate at convenience stores was…14,955 incidents.” Rebecca Lake states in Gas Station Statistics: 23 Interesting Facts.

Situational awareness was originally a military term to describe a pilot’s operational status and knowledge of immediate threats, but today it has become widely adopted as a risk management strategy and technology framework for improving life safety, security, environmental monitoring and mass notification. With more than 154,000 convenience stores in the United States according to the Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing (NACS) from December 31, 2016, it is essential that safety and security are considered at these locations. Many stores have extended operating hours or are open 24 hours which increases the risk to be targeted for robberies and crimes.

How can situational awareness promote safety and security at a convenience store?

Often one person runs a convenience store at night. By incorporating a panic button, the employee can quickly activate an alarm. The general manager or owner of the store can be notified of the emergency as well as the police department.

Video paging can also provide “eyes” on the situation.  Most convenience stores have video cameras surveilling their properties. When an employee presses a panic button this activates an IP camera which provides a closer view of the situation. The panic button also triggers a desktop alert to a networked computer notifying the appropriate individuals and providing a live video feed.

One can add a motion sensor and an IP camera to a back entrance. When motion is detected it initiates the video feed and the employee receives a desktop alert with video so he or she can ask those loitering to leave or notify the police.

In addition to protecting the convenience store from robbery or crime, it is important to also protect inventories.  Owners or Managers can monitor freezer and refrigeration units with temperature sensors and receive automatic alerts when temperatures are not in their target zones. Maintenance can then be notified to resolve the problem proactively before there is a significant inventory loss. This is one way that environmental monitoring protects property and prevents loss of convenience.

Situational awareness provides multiple ways to receive an alert – through text, voice call, email, a mobile alert or desktop alert. By receiving these alerts immediately, the problem can be handled appropriately.

Convenience stores are an indispensable part of modern life. But as the statistics show this convenience comes with a cost. Fortunately these risks can be managed by incorporating the use of situational awareness technologies. Click here to learn more about situational awareness applications in retail or feel free to contact our inside business development team today.



References:

Lake, Rebecca. (May 30, 2015). Gas Station Statistics: 23 Interesting Facts [Article]. Retrieved from https://www.creditdonkey.com/gas-station-statistics.html#safety

NACS The Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing. U.S. Convenience Store Count. Retrieved from http://www.nacsonline.com/Research/FactSheets/ScopeofIndustry/Pages/IndustryStoreCount.aspx

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