Shedding Light: Give Security Lighting the Attention it Deserves – monthly column featured in Sparks Electrical News (Crown Publications)

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How often have you been asked to provide security lighting for a client? How often have you heard a client say, “I don’t want anything fancy or expensive, just stick up a few little floodlights here and there.”

I have certainly heard it far too often. Whenever I am asked to go to a site to discuss security lighting, I first ask the client or facility manager if they have a security plan. That usually gets a response such as, “What do you mean?” or “I do not need a security plan”. Perhaps you are also asking a similar question as you read this article.

Every business facility anywhere in the world, but particularly here in South Africa, has probably experienced threats to its security of some nature. Those threats could vary from internal theft, external theft, crime syndicates or other more serious threats such as armed robbery, violent protest action and other serious threats.

Essentially, security lighting is only one small but nevertheless important element within a much larger security plan.

As lighting professionals, consulting engineers and specialists, it is important to make certain that the risk category of the facility has been properly identified before even proceeding further. That is the starting point for the security analysis. These are steps that we have to go through to ensure that when we decide on the type of security lighting, it will be the most appropriate.

Then follow steps to assess the security threat and the physical aspects of the facility itself. These will include the application of the appropriate Standards and Guidelines, and then, by making use of an Aide Memoire, assess the incidence of crime at the facility and in the neighbourhood over the previous twelve months.

Now it is time to put on your walking boots! It is time to assess the physical part of the facility. How secure is the building/s, what is the condition of boundary walls, fences, and more aspects? The list is long and may vary from facility to facility.

Finally, the third part of the process is to look at the level of housekeeping at the facility which may include disposal of junk, normal refuse, recycling collections, cash handling and more.

When it eventually gets to the security lighting plan, it is important to “Get the Light Right”. Lighting must be effective and appropriate for the area. Remember, poor lighting can even work in the criminal’s favour.

At all costs, there should be no obtrusive light or worse still nuisance light. No lighting should be directed above the horizontal measured from the lower face of the flood light. Remember, that poorly aimed or over-powered flood lights can blind or dazzle CCTV cameras and security personnel.

Equally important is the use of the correct Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT) of the flood light. If old technology light sources can result in incorrect identification of people and vehicles such as when using high pressure sodium lamps (HPS) where a blue car may appear to be purple or a red car may appear to be brown, and most humans appear to be the same skin colour. If old technology lighting is still in use, recommend that all security should be upgraded to LED. It will not only allow for a unified lighting plan but will also contribute to lower maintenance costs for the facility.

In the case of security lighting, there is much more than meets the eye!

If you need more information about the Standards for compliance or the assessment of the facility, you are welcome to contact me without obligation or cost.


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BHA School of Lighting

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South Africa