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Self-Storage Security Primer: An Overview of Basics for Facility Operators

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Individual Door Alarms

The most expensive piece of security—and possibly the most beneficial—is the individual door-alarm system. It’s a worthwhile expense when it comes to protecting your facility’s reputation and your customer’s property. Individual door alarms will alert the manager as well as anyone else on the property of a door being opened without proper authorization. The person opening a door must have first entered the proper security code in the access system. If not, the system will sound sirens, and activate strobes, cameras, and even auto-dialers, if configured.

The individual door-alarm system consists of switches on each of the storage-unit doors, and electronics to relay the door status (open or closed) to the main security system controller, usually a computer in the office. There’s also software for the PC and cabling throughout the storage buildings.

The systems are really simple to incorporate into your facility’s construction, but do cost a little extra. Few operators regret this investment. Such a system will either keep you competitive or give you the edge in your market. In many markets, it can even bring you a higher rental income.

Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)

Another system that plays a popular role in self-storage security is the closed circuit television system (CCTV). A modern CCTV system usually consists of three main components: video cameras, a video monitor and a digital video recorder (DVR).

The DVR is obviously the video-recording device, but what you may not know is the modern-day DVR offers many new and exciting features that the video tape recorder of yesteryear didn’t have. This includes the ability to record video from its cameras only when there’s movement in camera view. This means you no longer have to record hundreds of hours of useless video―you only record the good stuff.

Another advantage is your DVR records to a hard disk, not a videotape. If you wish to view recorded video from a certain day at a specific time, you can select that day and time on the DVR’s menu. Another exciting feature available on many DVRs is the ability to view live or recorded video over the Internet from an offsite location.

Along with the DVR, today’s video cameras record in much lower light conditions than ever before, in color, and the resolution is far superior than those of 10 or 15 years ago. The cost is always coming down, and quality video equipment is available on almost every street corner or the Internet. One note of caution: Be careful to avoid buying too cheap, or out of the trunk of a car.

Quality and Performance

Security for self-storage facilities has come a long way in the last few decades. Features, capabilities and costs have improved. There are many more sources for the equipment, as well as professionals to perform the installations than ever before. The more competition your suppliers have, the better pricing you’ll receive for their services and products.

Still, if you work too hard to find the very lowest price in town, you may inadvertently compromise on quality and performance. Speak with numerous suppliers, obtain pricing from each source and make the best educated decision you possibly can for your self-storage business.

David Essman is the director of marketing for Sentinel Systems Corp., a Lakewood, Colo., manufacturer of self-storage software and security systems since 1975. Mr. Essman has been with Sentinel since 1995. Prior to that, he worked extensively with computer-based products and electronics since 1983. To reach him, call 800.456.9955; e-mail ; visit .

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