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The myths and realities behind security lighting.

IF IT AIN'T BROKE DON'T FIX it" is a time-honored American axiom with which few argue. When it comes to security, however, there may be some disagreement as to the definition of "broke. " if the need for an improvement cannot be demonstrated, available funds more likely will be applied to areas where the need is evident.

Even when a security audit reveals inadequacies, eliminating them may be difficult if they have not resulted in serious problems. At times, security managers must don the mantle of salespeople to create convincing arguments that will help ensure long-term benefits for their employers. The ability to sell an employer on investing in enhanced security is easiest, of course, after a security breach has occurred. The more devastating the results of the breach, the more willing the employer will be to pay for improvements. But the real benefit of effective security is not in preventing recurrences; it's in preventing the first occurrence.

This premise particularly applies to electric illumination or security lighting. When used outdoors, security lighting is activated at night, when darkness provides a sense of safety for those up to no good. But the purpose of electric illumination is rarely limited to security. Depending on the way the system is designed, security lighting can provide additional benefits such as safety, identification, attraction, beautification, and environmental integration.

one of the greatest benefits provided by effective security lighting is safety. In parking lots, for example, it provides the illumination drivers need to help avoid accidents. Along walkways and footpaths, it can illuminate hazards such as steps, puddles, and debris. The benefit of such lighting can be substantial because it can help avoid property damage, lawsuits, insurance problems such as claims, substantial rate hikes, or withdrawal of coverage), and negative publicity.

But employers should not assume that lighting designed to provide security will also always provide safety. While one system can provide both safety and security, it must be designed that way.

Another important attribute of outdoor lighting is its ability to provide identification. Lighting can designate the location of a certain building or monument. It also can indicate the entrance to a facility, a benefit of particular importance to second- or third-shift factory workers or a hospital's emergency room.

Lighting can also provide direction by illuminating signs, buildings, and walkways. To differentiate one site from another, buildings can be illuminated in light that has distinctive colors. Color could also be used to illuminate different paths: People could follow the golden white path to a building bathed in golden white light.

Another aspect of outdoor lighting is attraction, the ability to attract people's attention to illuminated objects and spaces. If an area has relatively little outdoor lighting, any outdoor lighting can be a strong attractive force. If an area has heavy concentrations of outdoor lighting, the ability of any one lighting system tO attract people will depend on how effectively it makes illuminated objects stand out.

Retail facilities, such as shopping centers, malls, and freestanding stores, generally want lighting that provides as much of an attractive force as possible. In most instances, this means lighting that not only identifies the building or center but also provides obvious security and safety. People don't want to park their cars in poorly-lit lots and have to walk to the stores and back to their cars in dim surroundings. The ability of a store to offer safety and security through lighting can thus create a strong attractive force, which ultimately leads to more shoppers, more sales, more satisfied retailers, and more profits for all.

Lighting is particularly important with respect to attraction at retail facilities, because other forms of security-such as patrols, CCTV, and sensors-are not readily visible from any distance. Lighting is visible, and hence it is able to attract persons looking for the important benefits of safety and security, just as it repells those for whom darkness is an ally.

Another important benefit of outdoor lighting is beautification, or ability to enhance the look of a facility. No law, regulation, rule, or edict says security lighting must be unattractive. In fact, when an effective design is developed, security lighting should contribute to the overall aesthetic appeal of the facility.

Not all buildings are architectural wonders. However, effective lighting can help enhance the appearance of even the most ordinary factory by making it appear clean and orderly. This enhanced appearance signals that management takes pride in the appearance of the facility. No one wants to work in or live near an eyesore.

Lighting's ability to contribute to beautification is obvious in many large cities, such as Washington, DC, which is far more handsome during the evening than during the day. Electric illumination can use darkness to eliminate unattractive clutter while highlighting the most attractive facades. Lighting used to illuminate the front or sides of a building can also illuminate authorized or unauthorized entrances and exits. Low-level lighting used to illuminate shrubbery discourages people from hiding in the bushes and contributes to the safety of those walking the grounds at night. Another function of outdoor lighting is environmental integration-the ability of a uniform lighting system to integrate a variety of elements that otherwise are dissimilar. On a college campus, for example, buildings often represent radically different architectural styles. Even though each building has a style and grace of its own, the overall effect can be rather unsettling when viewed in daylight. At night, however, all elements can be integrated into one environment through a uniform lighting system that molds the campus into a work of art.

SOME CASES IN POINT WILL HELP illustrate the benefits associated with effective outdoor lighting, many of which show up on the bottom line. Here are a few such cases.

* One of the most obvious elements that effective lighting can improve is energy consumption. Many existing systems are outdated since they rely on components that, by today's standards, are wasteful.

The lighting system at the Bellevue, WA, Journal-American newspaper is a case in point. The existing system relied on mercury vapor lamps, which are far less efficient than alternatives see accompanying chart). In addition, the lighting system had not been examined for several years and, due to tree growth, was not providing the lighting quality needed for high-level security.

When a female employee was accosted as she was reporting to work in the early morning, management assumed nothing further could be done since a security lighting system already existed. But when a similar incident occurred just over a year later, management changed its position and replaced the lighting system.

Since then, no further incidents have been reported, and employees' morale, specifically their attitude toward the company, has improved. In addition, most employees agree that the new lighting system gives the building a much warmer appearance, since the new high-pressure sodium lamps produce a golden white color rather than the harsh color sometimes associated with mercury vapor lighting. Overall, the new system provides 21 percent more light and costs 25 percent less to operate.

* In late 1980, lighting's ability to cut down on automobile accidents was demonstrated dramatically in Wisconsin. To cut costs, the state's Department of Transportation deactivated the illumination used for 55 miles of Milwaukee-area freeways and 100 interchanges. Public outrage led to the reversal of the decision three weeks later, but the damage had already been done. Nighttime accident data comparing the "lights-out" period to the period immediately preceding the decision showed that total accidents increased by 129 percent, accidents with injuries went up 233 percent, persons injured increased 173 percent, and interchange ramp accidents went up 89 percent.

In addition, if the decision had not been reversed, the public works director expected that snow plowing and salting operations would be jeopardized because visibility of the roadways was reduced. He also said an additional $80,000 per season would be needed due to the extra time requirements imposed by lack of effective lighting. A law enforcement agency official noted that money would need to be allocated for installing spotlights on all squad cars used to patrol freeways, since the darkness shadowed disabled vehicles and hid incidents requiring police intervention. He added, "A darkened freeway in our urban community would force more thorough patrolling and likely cause a request for increased personnel. "

* In Smithfield, RI, Bryant College installed new security lighting around a 1,557-car commuter parking lot and along a main entrance road to the college. The $12,300 investment paid for itself in 15 months. In the first year, the school saved more than $3,100 (45 percent) through reduced operating and maintenance costs, $4,250 as a result of fewer vehicular accidents, another $425 since less cleanup was required because fewer accidents occurred, and $1,500 because of reduced vandalism.

* In San Diego, CA, the installation of new security lighting in Spring Valley Park resulted in substantial increases in energy consumption and other operating and maintenance costs. Nonetheless, the $17,250 investment paid for itself in just six months because the park saved $25,000 each year due to fewer burglaries at the community center located in the park and $10,000 more because vandalism was virtually eliminated.

In addition, accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians were reduced from 50 to about 12 each year, vehicle accidents were reduced from forty to five, and robberies and assaults were eliminated. Perhaps best of all, however, the new lighting allowed people to feel comfortable using the park at night.

* In Swampscott, MA, the Clark School (grades K-6) was being heavily vandalized. In one case, vandals climbed onto the roof and removed shingles. Leaks developed, creating even more damage. In another instance, vandals lit small fires, and windows became targets for missiles of all sorts.

The school's security lighting was obviously ineffective. It relied on incandescent lamps and cost about $625 per year to operate and maintain. The school's administration decided to install a new system that used low-pressure sodium lamps. The new system cost $1,725 to install, but it paid for itself in just over a year, thanks to annual cost savings of almost $1,400. The annual cost of operation and maintenance was reduced by more than half (about $400), and the vandalism was eliminated, saving more than $ 1,000 per year.

* At Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, MI, security managers had the option of converting the high-security lighting fixtures in 244 walk-ways from 250-watt mercury vapor lamps to either 150-watt high-pressure sodium or 250-watt high-pressure sodium lamps. Had the former option been selected, management anticipated light output would have increased by about 30 percent while energy consumption would have been cut by one third. Nonetheless, officials decided to install the 250-watt high-pressure sodium lamps. While this conversion more than doubled light output, it increased energy consumption by 15 percent. However, the additional light was so substantial that the university reduced security patrols, thus saving $10,500 annually.

* In Camillus, NY, Fairmount Fair Mall installed new outdoor lighting to reduce vandalism and problems in parking lots, especially during the Christmas season. The obvious safety and security provided by the new lighting was a strong attraction for shoppers. The resulting increase in sales amounted to approximately $2.5 million. Since the mall owner's rental income was based on sales, their annual income was increased by $90,000. In addition, the improved lighting permitted faster snow plowing, saving the owners an estimated $7,500 a year, and a reduction in security patrols, saving an additional $5,000 annually.

MORE DETAILS ABOUT THESE AND many other case histories are provided in a publication of the National Lighting Bureau, Lighting for Safety and Security. This guide gives details about the benefits of lighting and how to identify them, key concerns decision makers must bear in mind, specific steps that can be used to enhance lighting benefits while minimizing costs, and sources of assistance. By becoming familiar with the information in the guide, security managers can communicate more effectively with lighting system designers to help ensure every possible benefit can be obtained.

By working with lighting consultants, security personnel can identify the benefits of lighting enhancements and evaluate the associated costs. When all the facts are available, the selling job will be easier. To make a case for adding, modifying, or installing security lighting, consider the specific setting involved and the many different ways lighting can make a strong financial contribution. Few companies can afford to pass up the benefits available from an improved lighting system. About the Author . . . John P. Bachner is executive vice president of the Properly Management Association of America in Silver Spring, MD.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Bachner, John P.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Aug 1, 1990
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