Self-storage security systems have gained in importance and must evolve to suit the new class of facilities being developed. Security is also high in importance to storage customers and often influences their choice of facility.
From Simple to Secure
With advances in technology occurring at rapid rates in today’s society, there is a demand for existing businesses to upgrade to stay competitive in the marketplace. Electronic gates with pin-pad access and individually alarmed units, and flat-screen monitors displaying comforting site maps with noted security camera placements for customers to see provide the customer, facility owner and management peace of mind. The digital and wireless world has provided camera surveillance systems that can be monitored by high quality DVR systems as well as from home via the Internet.
Each of these advances brings a cost factor and a “value-added” marketing tool to be presented to the consumer in a manner they will understand and are willing to pay for. If the technology to keep possessions safe is lacking, the facility itself may be viewed as a risk.
Several improvements to security technology can be integrated into an existing facility or built into the design of a new one.
Pin-pad or card-reader access. One of the easiest upgrades available for a facility that already has a perimeter fence and sentry gate is an electronic pin-pad or card-reader access. This is the preliminary line of security allowing potential customers to see right away that access to the property is limited to those with a code or a card. Software packages that come with the pin pad or card reader also allow the manager or owner to view and record who has accessed the property and at what time.
Individually alarmed units. Another security add-on, considered costly but often necessary, is individually alarmed units. Generally, the alarms are linked to the gate-access system and a software monitoring program. By entering a code or swiping a card, the customer is not only gaining access to the property, but is also de-activating the alarm on his storage unit. Opening a unit door that is occupied by a customer without having entered a code triggers the alarm and lets the manager and facility employees know instantly there is a security issue at the location.
Wireless door alarms. For existing facilities that do not currently offer individually alarmed units, it may be more cost-effective to add a wireless door alarm system. Wireless systems can be adapted to most locations and are an easy alternative for a protection upgrade to an existing facility’s security system. They have come a long way over the years and seem to be improving continuously as the design is more commonly used.
Cameras. Cameras offer reassurance to customers that their belongings are being monitored in their absence. Security cameras are offered in a variety of picture qualities and styles, such as infrared and motion sensor. Strategically placed security cameras throughout the facility allow for a broad view of what is happening at any given time. A camera can also be placed in the pin pad or card reader to make it easy to see who has visited the property, and can even be remote controlled by someone in the office to change the angle or view.
If you choose to add security cameras, be sure to post signs around the property letting customers and potential security violators know they are being recorded. Such signs are not only a deterrent to crime but failure to publicize this fact could result in the footage being inadmissible in a court of law should a problem arise at your location.
Digital video-recording systems. A necessary add-on to any surveillance system is a digital video recording (DVR) system. This replaces old VCR technology and its poor-quality images. DVR systems allow a location to set the cameras to be motion activated to record images only when there is action occurring in their field of view, saving space to record for longer periods of time. The information is saved digitally on the computer hard drive, and can be transferred to an archival storage disk, saving active computer storage space. This system also enables you to zoom in on images, scroll through recordings and search for specific cameras and times.
Getting Left Behind
Facilities that don’t have these types of security systems stand the chance of being left behind their competitors. The self-storage industry in Canada is not far from seeing these technical advances becoming mainstream and commonplace. To remain competitive with new installations and retain clientele, older locations need to increase or update their current security.
Security upgrades will not only increase your level of new customers, but also your bottom line. Increasing your rates will never be easier than when you have added upgraded security features that substantiate costs, give your customers more peace of mind and keep you in the competitive market.
As more technology devices become readily available and adaptable to self-storage, the future for security developments in self-storage is limitless. By keeping up with the advances in self-storage security now, it will most likely make adaptability of future security additions much more cost-effective and feasible.
Brian Johnston is the winner of the 2007 Manager of the Year Award presented by the Canadian Self-Storage Association and is an expert in site management. For more information, call 416.787.3500; e-mail [email protected].