Lights: Don’t Try Campus Security Without Them

Earlier this month I found myself in an unexpected situation while walking across a hotel parking lot to my car.  Nothing in particular happened, it's just that there was something different about this walk across a hotel parking lot to my car.  It was in the dark.

Obviously, I lived to tell about it so it couldn't have been that big of a deal.  But it was still a surprising situation, especially given the fact that this happened at a large hotel in a nice Chicago suburb.  At first, I wondered if something was wrong with me... Why is it so dark out here?  Are my eyes working?  Am I walking in the wrong area?  Sure, it was after 10 p.m. so that had something to do with the darkness, but what about the lights?  As I looked up, I saw lamp after lamp in the parking lot, but none of them were on.

I'm not sure why these lamps weren't on, but apparently it's fairly common for lighting to be overlooked in security.  Recently I spoke with Patrick Fiel, public safety advisor, education, ADT Security Services, and he related some interesting stories. 

"I look at the wholistic approach to a campus, from the interior to the exterior," says Fiel, who recently participated in the federal tradeshow, SecTech '07 in Washington, D.C .  "I'm not looking at one product.  I'm looking at a total solution." 

On a campus environment, Fiel is a big proponent of having cameras visible for a deterrent effect, keeping brush trimmed and walkways lit.  While these might seem obvious, he knows of plenty of times when lights could have made a difference but weren't used.  For example, it's not uncommon for facility maintenance and security to not communicate, and so maintenance might set up lighting schedules to save energy costs (interior lights off at night) without thinking about the implications on security (cameras might not work without lights on).  One compromise on this could be having the lights go on as soon as a break-in is detected, etc.

If you're a dealer currently working with a school district or college campus, then you've got plenty to consider from a security standpoint and if you want, you can contact ADT for a free security estimate to see if there's a way to partner with them.  But in focusing on all the big, complicated matters of security, it might be worth remembering, "Don't forget to turn on the lights."