by Mark Lusky
Self-storage owners interested in beefing up security typically think about lighting. Lighting improvements are the single most cost-effective safety and security measure a facility owner can make. New technology and findings reveal that not just any type or amount of light will do.
"All the light in the world won't stop crime," notes Daniel Henderson, principal of Relumination, a company providing state-of-the-art lighting solutions to a variety of industries, including self-storage. "We're part of an organization known as the International Crime Free Association (ICFA). Studies show that if it's too bright, there's crime, just as if it's too dark. It has as much to do with how lighting is designed as how bright. Glare is one of the worst things. If facility lighting isn't designed properly, you can't see someone from 50 feet away. In the right kind of light, people will light up like a Christmas tree." Henderson also says, "And motion sensing lights are great for crime prevention. Criminals are afraid of being caught and lights coming on or changing brightness signal they have been seen."
Bright floodlighting may actually encourage rather than discourage crime, Henderson points out.
In addition to better visibility in general, the right lighting substantially improves the clarity of security camera images, Henderson says. Lighting quality and brightness also relate to premise liability issues. Henderson adds that facility owners improving their lighting have seen a reduction in premise liability lawsuits and defense costs.
All this, of course, reinforces a sense of well being among customers and staff, and can be a strong selling point for prospects. "If you have a 35-year-old female going through a divorce who needs to store belongings, it's important to convince her that she can feel safe at your facility at night," says Henderson.
The ICFA website identifies other benefits of enhanced security, including improved self-storage facility reputation for active management, leading to increased demand; lower maintenance and repair costs (from NOT having to deal with the aftermath of crime-related activities); peace of mind from spending more time managing, less time dealing with crisis control; appreciative renters who are more likely to be loyal; and increased property recovery rate by police when crime does occur.
For improved security as well as energy efficiency, Henderson emphasizes that LED lighting is one preferred solution. But, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions when addressing lighting and security. Henderson recommends addressing five areas before making a commitment to any new lighting solution:
- Get a free or low-cost expert lighting assessment that looks closely at such issues as security, energy efficiency, and what can be done most cost-effectively to use lighting infrastructure already in place
- Examine all utility rebate and tax incentive programs that will provide tax deduction or other benefits, thereby reducing the overall cost
- Look at a variety of financing solutions to maximize return on investment;
- Determine, based on this analysis, whether it's better to do a completely new installation or retrofit the existing system
- Make sure the company selected for the lighting solution has a strong and provable track record, can provide a full-service solution, and can offer comprehensive project management
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