Channel 2 gets exclusive access to Lenox Square’s operational intelligence center

ATLANTA — Channel 2 Action News got exclusive access to take you behind the curtain to show you what the owners of Lenox Square are doing to keep you safe.

It’s the first time the owners have granted such access to the media.

Simon Properties owns Lenox Square, along with Phipps Plaza, Sugarloaf Mills and the Mall of Georgia. They hope all the extra security will convince shoppers to come back.

Lenox Square is a destination spot. If you come to Atlanta, you have to go there. But many people haven’t felt safe despite the security guards, cameras around the property and paid off-duty officers.

The owners hope sophisticated security measures that you can’t see will make this one of the safest places in the city.

John Rulli is chief administrative officer for Simon Properties Group.

After a series of violent crimes, Rulli says they have stepped up security measures. They have invested in K9s that can sniff out gun residue, because guns are not allowed on the 62-acre property.

There are dozens of cameras that monitor public areas.

They’ve installed enhanced metal detectors that can not only spot a gun, but also pinpoint where that weapon could be in a purse or a pocket.

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“We have some work to do to convince the shopper to come back,” Rulli said. “Bad guys should recognize, don’t come to Lenox and break the law, we’re watching you, we see you.”

What you can’t see is a massive behind the scenes security force.

Channel 2′s Dave Huddleston flew to Indianapolis, Indiana to meet Rulli and his security team.

It is the first time anyone outside of the company has ever seen the company’s operational intelligence center where 130 workers monitor all Simon properties 24 hours a day.

“The key to the success of the OIC is real-time communication as things are happening and immediate deployment,” Rulli said.

Huddleston watched a worker named Molly, who had her eye fixed on Lenox Square. She not only monitored cameras, but also communicated instantaneously with security in Atlanta.

The OIS uses sophisticated algorithms that predict problems before they occur, based on past human behavior.

“That gives us a good idea of where to be when to be to prevent certain events from happening,” Rulli said.

Russ Tuttle is Simon’s chief security officer. He has traveled to Israel, and also worked with the FBI and the U.S. military to develop the OIC.

“We not only have specialist looking at cameras and taking phone calls, and dispatching people, we have intelligence analysts who are going through open-source law enforcement sensitive intelligence and creating intelligence products for Lenox,” Tuttle said.

But is all of it enough to make shoppers comfortable enough to return to Lenox Square?

“With all that we’re doing and will continue to do, we’ll have a safe shopping environment, and the customer will feel comfortable coming back,” Rulli said.

The security cameras in the OIC have also been linked with the Atlanta Police Department’s new video surveillance system.

They also use license plate readers to spot anyone coming on to the property that may be wanted by police.

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