Macy’s Security Performs “Miracle on 34th St.”

Constantly upgraded surveillance system covers 1 million square feet of retail floor space, eight street-level public entrances, one employee entrance, shipping and receiving areas, stock rooms, employee cash windows and holding areas. Exterior cameras also monitor store entrances, display windows and sidewalks.

Macy’s at 34th St. on Herald Square-it’s the largest department store in the world, a landmark location, sponsor of the world-famous Thanksgiving Day Parade and a tourist attraction for people from all over the world. Stop in anytime and you’ll see crowds of people shopping, and often just browsing through the multitude of departments full of merchandise. From clothing and cosmetics to fine works of art and estate jewelry, Macy’s flagship store is more than just a place to shop, it’s a reflection of New York City’s diversity.

Located in the heart of Manhattan island, Macy’s 34th Street is the centerpiece of the downtown business and shopping district. Surrounded by scores of smaller retail shops and office skyscrapers, Macy’s attracts all types of clientele. With entrances on four different city streets, anyone can walk off the street into this prime retail establishment at any given time during store hours.

To help keep a watchful eye over Macy’s 19 floors of retail, office and warehouse space, the store’s security team calls upon a highly advanced security system primarily comprised of Panasonic security cameras, monitors and time-lapse recorders. Over the past few years, Macy’s state-of-the-art surveillance system has been updated and expanded under the direction of Don McVicker, Macy’s group vice president of security, and Matthew P. Sack, director of security administration and communications. Working closely with Howard Lass, sales manager for MSI Security Systems, Inc. in Kearny, N.J., McVicker and Sack have configured the system so Macy’s security staff can monitor more than 90 percent of the total facility from the store’s centralized command center. This includes more than 1 million square feet of retail floor space, eight street-level public entrances, one employee entrance and all of the shipping and receiving areas.

In addition, security cameras monitor all key “back areas,” including stock rooms, employee cash windows and holding areas, as well as the exclusive executive office areas occupied by Macy’s parent company, Federated Stores, Inc. Additional cameras are strategically located on the exterior of the building to monitor store entrances, display windows and the surrounding sidewalks.

CCTV System Takes Shape Over 20 Years

Lass, who has been working with Macy’s security staff for more than 20 years, has been personally involved with every phase of the system’s evolution. “The wiring component was probably the biggest and most difficult obstacle to overcome at Macy’s,” he says. “We tackled the problem by designing and installing a customized wiring conduit system that runs throughout the store’s structure. It provides organization to what could have easily become a wiring nightmare when working with a system that currently has more than 300 Panasonic cameras and the potential to accommodate a total of 2,000 cameras.”

The latest generation of the system involved creating an extensive new command center. MSI used crews for more than 20 days to build a new 21-bay console and install numerous cable runs from the cameras to the command center. Lass estimates the upgrade to be valued at more than $100,000.

The cameras in use have advanced digital signal processing (DSP) operation designed to assure consistently high-quality color images in changing lighting conditions. These features include programmable digital backlight compensation that masks strong light sources without affecting overall picture quality, and auto tracing white balance to accommodate the wide variety of lighting inside and outside the building.

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