High-Tech Security for Storage: Self-Service, Innovation and Change

Steve Cooper Comments
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About four years ago, we forecast the 10-year future of security in the self-storage industry. Less than halfway through, a few innovations have arrived on the fast track while others loom on the horizon. For the most part, the third-generation facilities coming out of the ground have more comprehensive and effective operations, and security and control systems than might have been expected.

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Most developers still pursue the industry with traditional construction and operations methods. Security fundamentals don’t change, but the methods do. As we have noted before, advances in technology make it easier. The security industry definitely sees a trickle-down effect from the level of requirements and demands from military and government applications. Much of the acceleration in new and improved gadgetry is due to the concentration of upgrading virtually all security systems.

Many new inventions and adaptations find their way into more general usage as manufacturers gain from the increased volume and economies of scale that travel with the growth. Biometric devices may be a good example. In self-storage locations, fingerprint readers have been used primarily in high-security areas, like wine storage and art vaults. Capturing fingerprints is the reasonably simple level of gaining positive individual identification.

Fingerprint reading has yet to prove an exact science. The current generation readers prefer to live in an inside environment. The generation that is in development and testing now will be much more adaptable and effective. Look for improvements over the next few years. However, early adopters who plan for the current limitations have enjoyed the results with the fingerprint-reading devices.

The positive identification of tenants and prospects ranks high on the list with law enforcement agencies. In addition, owners have discovered that having better credentials on file makes it easier to find and communicate with tenants, especially those who fall behind in their rental payments. A system that gives better identification wins on both scores, resulting in better security and a better-run facility.

In the future, we expect to see some owners adopt the more sophisticated—and expensive—facial recognition devices, retinal scanners, hand and palm readers, and similar systems, all of which fall into that category called biometric devices. Not only has the technical capability improved, but also as acceptance filters through the Mil-Specs and GSA lists, there are more affordable elements available. For tomorrow’s facilities, the devices will ensure a more comprehensive system and more of a total solution.

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