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What's Fresh in Self-Storage Security: Overlocks, IP Technology and More

Self-storage security technology is rapidly changing. Read about what's new in overlocks, keypads and Internet-protocol equipment.

May 10, 2010

7 Min Read
What's Fresh in Self-Storage Security: Overlocks, IP Technology and More

In March, I attended the Inside Self-Storage World Expo in Las Vegas as well as the International Security Conference (ISC West), where one could find everything that’s anything to do with the security industry. ISC West featured all the latest equipment and trends, with Internet-protocol (IP) equipment being the highlight of the show. But before we discuss what’s new in IP, let’s look at the products unveiled at the ISS Expo.
Overlock Systems

Chamberlain Access Solutions featured its new wireless overlock system, AccessMaster Overlock. This unit allows self-storage owners and managers to automatically place or remove an overlock on a tenant’s unit. This is one of the more innovative approaches to the problem of keeping up with overlocks. It also helps solve a number of problems with kiosks and pay-at-the-gate systems that have become more popular in the last several years.  

The overlock system is integrated into the property-management software, much like an alarm system. When a unit comes into overlock status, the software, working in conjunction with the security-access system, sends a wireless signal to the unit. The overlock system then locks the slide latch so the door cannot be opened, even when the tenant’s own lock is removed. Once the unit comes out of overlock status, the management software sends another signal, causing the overlock system to unlock the slide latch.

The overlock system consists of a battery-powered locking unit, wireless repeaters and software. The locking device attaches to the facility’s roll-up door, in line with the slide latch. The repeaters are installed as required throughout the site and do require a power source. These are different from the repeaters used with some wireless door-alarm systems. Installation for the locking device is done from outside the unit using a drilling template and rivets; there’s no need to open the door.
New in Keypads

Another hot item found at the ISS Expo was high-tech keypads, which have become smarter in recent years, with new capabilities. Sentinel Systems Corp. has added some of the features from its high-end Model 3200i keypad into a new version of its Model 315. The 315 now has a standalone mode, so in the event the access system loses communication with the office computer the keypad will continue to function as normal.

Tenant status and unit codes are stored in the keypad and updated by the property-management software. As long as the unit has power, it continues to allow operation as normal. All of the keypad-activity data is stored in memory and, once communication is re-established, that information is sent to the office computer. This ensures the activity log stays up-to-date and has no gaps.

While on the face many keypads might have the same look, the technology has changed. We don’t often hear about all the upgrades and changes that take place on the component side of the equipment, but be aware there have been numerous changes in performance, stability and reliability. The keypads and other electronic security components we use are nothing short of small computers. Just as computers continue to evolve, so do these devices.

Also, like computers, keypads sometimes need an upgrade. If your system is more than five years old, check with your vendor to see what upgrades are available and what is recommended. 

Improved Cameras

IP-enabled equipment is fast becoming the standard in all areas of security. This boom in IP has affected the CCTV industry the most, but is now making its way into alarm and access-control equipment. This movement will soon allow all system components to “talk” to one another.

The first major improvement has been in megapixel cameras. These cameras are much the same as the ones you would use to take photographs in that they provide a digital image that can be enlarged or zoomed in on with little to no distortion during playback. There are now 1- to 16-megapixel cameras, and while the higher-end versions are expensive, cameras in the 2- to 4-megapixel range are affordable and offer several benefits for the self-storage industry.

With megapixel cameras, it’s possible to use one camera to cover a driveway where we might normally use two or three. This not only saves in equipment costs, but gives us better images with a higher definition. You can digitally pan the camera after you zoom in, allowing more in-depth viewing of the entire image. It’s also possible to set up more than one recording view for a single camera, so while recording the camera in full view, you can simultaneously record a second view of a magnified area.

For instance, let’s say you have one camera recording an aisle that shows the office and gate area. You could record a second, magnified view to show license plates at the gate, and a third magnified view of the office area―all simultaneously from the same camera. This approach can be used anywhere on site.

These cameras require a piece of storage equipment called a network video recorder (NVR). This recorder offers several benefits including larger storage capacity, off-site storage, and real-time off-site monitoring, which replaces after-hours guard services. NVRs also have analytics far superior to those of digital video recorders, which have become the norm for many self-storage sites.

NVR analytics allow for features such as virtual fencing, direction tracking, object counting, missing object and many other options in post- and pre-recording modes. They allow for easy viewing over any device that can connect to the Internet, including your smart phone. It’s now truly possible to monitor several sites and multiple cameras from anywhere you can get Web access. For owners with multiple locations, this can help you manage from a distance.

Another benefit IP has given us is the ability to use more devices. One that’s of particular importance to self-storage is a low-cost, mid-range radio. Along with IP cameras and POE (power of Ethernet) routers, these radios allow us to put cameras at the far end of a property with no wire runs (with the exception of one from the camera to the radio).

Now a site operator can add cameras, keypads, intercoms and other devices in locations that have no conduit runs back to the office―and at a lower cost than using traditional conduit and wire. Radios can be placed in multiple points throughout the property, allowing an owner to enhance the security and operation of his site.

This move toward IP is hastily becoming the norm of all that we deal with in security. Within in a few years, all items across the security market will become intertwined by way of IP. Soon we’ll have smart devices that notify us of their operational state and allow us to control them in ways we are yet to imagine.

It remains to be seen how the self-storage industry will adapt to IP. With the rest of the security industry quickly turning to the benefits of this technology, the manufacturers of self-storage security equipment will need to adapt to IP so the benefits can be used by our industry, too.

Chester A. Gilliam is the president of Wizard Works Security Systems Inc. in Centennial, Colo. The company specializes in self-storage security systems and has worked across the United States installing the latest technology for the past 19 years. For more information, call 303.798.5337; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.wzrdwrks.com.

Related Articles:

Self-Storage Operators Capitalize on Visible Security: Observable Equipment Protects the Investment and Comforts Customers

Tackling Self-Storage Security Installation: What Facility Operators Should Know

CCTV Technology Evolves in Self-Storage

Self-Storage Talk: Security Cameras: A Must Have

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