Many mall operators now also have evacuation drills once or twice a year that focus on lockdown situations. A growing number of malls also use cameras that scan license plates in parking lots. And many malls use technology that enables them to share three-dimensional virtual blue prints of their layout with law enforcement.
The reaction to attacks can be more muted in other parts of the world. In China and Hong Kong, malls are operating normally following the Nairobi attack, typically monitored by closed-circuit cameras and with unarmed private security guards stationed throughout.
"We review our security system and conduct emergency drills regularly to ensure that we are ready to respond to any breach of security swiftly and effectively," said Elizabeth Kok, Retail Portfolio Director at Swire Properties Ltd., which operates three upscale malls in Hong Kong.
At the busy PPR shopping mall in downtown Shanghai, a security guard who gave only his surname, Zhang, said he saw no need for any heightened security. "I can say that the possibility of the same kind of thing happening here is almost zero," he said. "Everyone knows that China prohibits guns, and Shanghai is such a safe city."
In Australia, a similar sentiment was expressed. Tobias Feakin, senior analyst for national security at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said malls in Australia would likely make a point of ensuring their security staff will operate on a heightened level of awareness in light of the attacks. But given the relatively low risk of terrorism in Australia, it's unlikely they'll make major security changes.
Meanwhile, Michael Green, chief executive of the British Council of Shopping Centers, a mall trade group, said that they work closely with police forces like Scotland Yard and would respond to warnings with appropriate measures. But they don't want to make malls like prisons.
"We have to make them welcoming," he said.
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AP Writers Adam Schreck in Nairobi, Kenya; Kay Johnson in Mumbai, India; Danica Kirka in London, Thanyarat Doksone in Bangkok; Kristen Gelineau in Sydney, Aust.; Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Aust.; Fu Ting in Shanghai; and Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong contributed to this report.
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