This is the header image for a BPS Security article titled, “How Poor Lighting Can Increase Security Risk”.

How Poor Lighting Can Increase Security Risk

This time of year, as tiny little multi-colored lights blanket our cities, lights are on our minds! So, we are taking this opportunity to discuss a major security gap that many companies and private residences overlook — how poor lighting increases security risk!

In all seriousness, poor lighting design can cause a major security gap! So, when decorating, designing, and working with/hiring a security firm, lighting needs to be a topic of conversation!

The Two Primary Reasons Poor Lighting Increases Security Risk

Insufficient Lighting

Why are most kids afraid of the dark? Simple, they are afraid of what they can’t see. Why do parents always encourage their newly licensed kids from avoiding dark parking lots and parking structures? Because the parents are afraid of what their kids can’t see. Do you notice the common denominator here?

Insufficient lighting around buildings, in parking lots/structures, alleys, both interior and exterior hallways/breezeways, sidewalks, paths, and more (basically anywhere a person could walk) creates opportunities for criminals to hide. Thus, when working with a security company, it is crucial that they analyze the lighting situation to avoid providing dark, shadowy hiding places!

This is an image from the base of a large lighting pole (one you might see in a big parking lot) looking up the pole towards the four lights at the tope. This image is used for the BPS Security article titled, “How Poor Lighting Can Increase Security Risk”.

So, is the solution to place lights everywhere? No! The electricity bill will be out of control, most cities are adopting a light ordinance, and too many poorly-placed bright lights can actually create more problems.

Poor Placement

Using Christmas lights as an example, when a human being is looking at a beautifully decorated building draped in Christmas lights, their pupils will constrict (since more light is shining into the eye) which makes it hard to see or focus on the surrounding area.

That said, if people cannot see a criminal, they cannot react. So, more lights do not always mean more visibility.

Additionally, when watching top horror and thriller films, there is one thing that most of the directors use to their advantage — shadows! No matter where light is placed, if there is an object between the light and the ground, there will be a shadow. Now pair an actual shadow with decreased visibility thanks to constricted pupils, and there is definitely an opportunity for danger to arise.

Color Temperature

When choosing light bulbs for a home or office, often people will choose the watts based on the desired color temperature and look/feel of a space. The the right is an image from The Lighting Blog that shows the different color temperatures in relation to watts.

Now, color temperatures can affect the visibility of certain objects.

This is a graphic that shows the various color temperatures of “white” lights. This image is used for the BPS Security article titled, “How Poor Lighting Can Increase Security Risk”.
Photo Credit - The Lighting Blog

The Westinghouse table below explains the “common use” behind the different color temperatures. As you will see, 5000K is usually used for security lighting.

This is a table, created by Westinghouse, that explains which “white” light might be used for specific purposes and in what type of area. This image is used for the BPS Security article titled, “How Poor Lighting Can Increase Security Risk”.
This Color Temperature Table is from Westinghouse

So, what’s the problem? Well, there are always going to be a plethora of different lights, especially in high-end areas! Below is a picture of Larimer Square, a high-end retail/dining block nestled between 14th and 15th St. on Larimer St. in downtown Denver, Colorado. The decorative lights are draped across the street all year.

This is an image taked from the 15th street, looking towards 14th street (fron the right side of the street) on Larimer Street in downtown Denver. This area is known as Larimer Sqaure. The image was captured at night and beautifully shows the lights draped across the street.. This image is used for the BPS Security article titled, “How Poor Lighting Can Increase Security Risk”.
Photo Credit: Visit Denver
Is that bad? No! But the purpose is definitely to create more of an inviting, aesthetically pleasing area and not to illuminate potential threats. When a security team is prepared, it can be okay!

Impacting Security Footage

We touched on this last week. However, its important, so let’s dive in a bit more!

First and foremost, the placement of the security camera in relation to bright lights is crucial (and shockingly, often overlooked)! If the camera is too close to a light, the light can disrupt the footage.

Second, it’s important to know that shining a light into a camera will also disrupt the footage. Now, you cannot prevent a criminal from doing this. However, you CAN place the cameras where vehicles’ headlights will not cause a problem. (Or at least, have multiple cameras placed incase it’s impossible to avoid).

Final Thoughts

Poor lighting increases security risk! Therefore, when hiring a security firm, be sure to ask them, “What are common security gaps?” If they do not mention lighting, bring it up! And find out how they have helped improved some of their other clients’ security with lighting!
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