April 17, 2024

USE CASE: Helping Restaurants Overcome the Unhoused Population Issues with a Video Security System


In today’s quick-service restaurant industry, safety and security are top concerns for both customers and employees. However, many establishments are struggling with significant challenges related to transient, or unhoused, populations and the accompanying security issues. These challenges not only affect the restaurant’s profits but also impact the well-being of employees and customers.

Transient population – refers to individuals who lack a stable, permanent residence and frequently move from one location to another. This mobility can be driven by various factors such as searching for work, escaping adverse weather, finding shelter or services, or due to the temporary nature of the accommodations available to them (such as shelters that can only be used for short periods).

Unhoused population – refers to individuals who do not have stable, permanent housing. This includes people who may be living on the streets, in cars, in emergency shelters, or in other temporary accommodations that do not constitute a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.

Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) have experienced a surge in security incidents over the past year, ranging from vandalism to physical attacks on employees. The challenges caused by the growing unhoused population include littering trash around the building, the presence of illegal substances left behind in the corners of doorways, and the abandonment of personal belongings scattered on the property. All of these issues are contributing to overall safety and security concerns. Despite trying traditional methods like hiring security guards, the problems continue, and the financial toll continues to rise. 


Understanding the Issue

When homeless individuals or people moving from place to place settle in business doorways or set up temporary space on the property, it creates problems for business owners.

This type of environment creates fear among both customers and staff, leading to concerns about the restaurant’s reputation and its impact on employee morale. In one incident, a long-serving manager decided to quit working for a restaurant, after being attacked during working their shift. It’s difficult to find hard-working team members in any situation, but to know they may be entering into an unsafe environment, will make it more challenging to keep hard workers around.

Businesses recognize the need for a thorough solution to these problems. This is why some restaurants are adopting a comprehensive approach, using managed video security systems to handle risks from unhoused populations and enhance safety.


Current Strategies in Place to Deter Unhoused People  

To tackle the growing issue, different strategies have been put in place by restaurant owners, to deter the unhoused population and reduce related security concerns:

1. Sprinkler Systems: Randomly activated sprinkler systems discourage unhoused people from lingering or camping in certain areas by making it unpredictable when they will be exposed to water.

2. Motion Sensor Lights/Music: Installing motion sensor lights or playing music in specific outdoor locations deters unhoused people by exposing hiding spots and discouraging them from staying overnight.

3. Good Relationships with Law Enforcement: Building positive relationships with law enforcement agencies encourages regular monitoring and patrols, which visibly discourages unhoused activity and indicates active property surveillance.

4. Collaboration with Nearby Businesses: Collaborating with neighboring businesses enhances deterrence efforts by presenting a united front and coordinating a more effective approach to addressing unhoused issues in the area.

5. Implementation of Security Systems: Installing comprehensive security systems, including cameras and alarms, deters unhoused activity by increasing the risk of detection and apprehension.

6. Private Security Guard Services: Hiring a private security guard enhances overall security by providing a physical deterrent to unhoused people and actively monitoring and responding to suspicious activity on the premises.


A Comprehensive Approach Using Video Security Systems

To tackle the unique challenges of unhoused populations, restaurants are implementing a comprehensive strategy using Envysion’s security software to enhance safety for their customers and employees. Through collaboration between both the Envysion Loss Prevention team and the customer, a customized plan is developed based on the restaurant’s specific needs. 

Each aspect of a personalized strategy is designed to address the challenges posed by situations such as the unhoused population issue:

1. Enhanced Security Measures: Managed video security goes beyond traditional security guards by using CCTV cameras, alarm systems, and outdoor lighting. These measures deter potential vandals or attackers and provide crucial evidence when incidents occur.

2. Collaboration with Law Enforcement: Video security systems help restaurants work with local law enforcement. Sharing real-time video feeds offers validated evidence of incidents, giving information needed to support authorities in handling security issues effectively.

3. Employee Training: Video security systems assist in employee training by providing footage for scenario-based exercises. Employees can learn personal safety measures and how to handle potentially risky situations, reducing the risk of harm.

4. Legal Action: By using a managed video system with cloud storage, restaurants can securely store video footage for future litigation needs. Maintaining easy access to crucial footage when required ensures reliable evidence is available to pursue legal action if necessary. 

5. Site-Specific Measures: Envysion’s Managed Video Solution allows for customized security solutions tailored to specific locations. By conducting detailed security audits, restaurants can identify vulnerabilities and implement targeted security measures to reduce risks effectively.


The Role of Video Security Systems in a Restaurant 

Managed video security is crucial for ensuring safety and security in restaurants. It’s important to partner with a company that customizes solutions to meet each restaurant’s specific needs. 

Let’s explore a tailored solution, along with other examples illustrating how managed video security effectively addresses security challenges in different establishments:

Prevention: Visible cameras and signage deter troublemakers, ultimately saving the restaurant money by reducing property damage and repair costs.

For example, a fast-food chain implemented managed video security and witnessed a significant decrease in property damage and repair costs due to enhanced prevention measures.


Vision: Comprehensive surveillance covering targeted areas, including those not easily visible, provides a clear picture of the surroundings. 

In one case study, a restaurant dealt with the challenges of loitering and disturbances in its parking lot. By strategically placing cameras and using AI technology for real-time monitoring, the restaurant effectively deterred loitering and maintained a safer environment for customers and staff.


Detection: AI technology detects loitering conditions, allowing staff to intervene quickly and prevent disturbances. 

In another example, a restaurant chain experienced frequent incidents of theft and disorderly conduct. Managed video security systems with advanced detection capabilities recorded these incidents, providing valuable evidence that contributed to a decrease in theft incidents and improved overall safety.


Protection: Access control systems prevent unauthorized individuals from entering restricted areas, ensuring that only authorized personnel with the necessary clearance can access certain areas.

A case study involving a high-profile restaurant chain demonstrated how access control measures integrated with managed video security systems prevented unauthorized access to sensitive areas, safeguarding valuable assets and information.


Notification and Intervention: Automated alerts and panic buttons enable faster response to issues, helping the restaurant address potential threats efficiently. 

For instance, a fast-food restaurant encountered a security threat when an aggressive customer refused to leave the premises. Staff quickly alerted authorities using panic buttons connected to managed video security systems. This led to a prompt resolution of the situation, ensuring customer safety.


Integration with Law Enforcement: Real-time video context helps law enforcement make informed decisions and respond quickly. In another instance, a restaurant collaborated with local law enforcement to address ongoing security concerns. Sharing video footage and evidence of incidents with law enforcement allows for effective prioritization of responses, resulting in the timely resolution of security issues.



The challenges presented by the increased unhoused populations in restaurants demand a comprehensive approach to safety and security. Managed video security solutions with the ability to be customized to address specific needs, play a crucial role in enhancing prevention, detection, and protection measures. By leveraging advanced AI technology and strategic partnerships, restaurants can effectively mitigate security risks, restore safety within their establishments, and uphold their commitment to providing a secure environment for customers and employees.

Reach out to the Envysion team today to learn more about how our managed video security solutions can help you address security issues and create a safer environment for your customers and employees. Let’s work together to safeguard your establishment and uphold your commitment to excellence.


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