The security of any business is of vital importance, but when it comes to self-storage, it’s not just your assets that need protection – it’s those of your storers, too. When customers choose to store goods in your units, or vehicles on your site, they’re putting their trust in you and your company to keep them safe from opportunistic crime – and that’s not something to take lightly! Your self storage facility’s security is actually an investment that will pay for itself in the long run – by reducing risk, increasing the appeal of your facility over those of your competitors, and protecting your brand reputation.
Our Australia team recently spoke with Ryan McGovern, general manager of secVision Networks, who specialise in commercial security in Australia. With the constant evolution of security technology and the rise of cloud-to-cloud integrations between management software and security systems, more and more is becoming possible in terms of automation and remote monitoring of storage facilities: virtual guard centres watching sites for unauthorised activity, two-way intercoms between visitors and off-site staff, alerts to an owner’s phone when access is attempted outside set hours.
Ryan and his team work with self storage facilities of all shapes and sizes in Australia to ensure their site security is up to scratch. “You can think of your self storage site’s security as the layers of an onion – fortifying and protecting the heart in the very middle,” Ryan explains. “At the end of the day, your security systems can work for you to boost your brand reputation, mitigate your business risks, and even reduce your admin workload.”.
In today’s blog, we’re exploring some of the ‘layers’ of security for self storage sites – including things to think about and traps to avoid. Let’s get into it!
1. Physical Barriers
The first layer of our ‘security onion’ is a physical one. Thieves are opportunistic creatures, and in Ryan’s experience, they’re often looking for targets they can get in and out of quickly – the harder you make it for them to enter your facility in the first place, the lower your risk of break-ins! “High quality fences are one of the first investments you can make in your site’s security,” Ryan tells us. “There’s a few key considerations when choosing a fence – it needs to be high enough that it’s hard to climb, and ideally you want barbed wire or spikes on top as an extra measure of protection.”. It’s also important to ensure that your perimeter fence is as ‘climb-proof’ as possible – with no footholds or objects around the base that could be used to scale it, and with any slats too narrow for a person to fit through.
Once you’ve sorted your quality fences and gates, there’s the matter of doors and locks. Although it might be tempting to save a few dollars with some entry-level gear from your local hardware store, that might end up costing you more in the long run. Security is one of those areas where ‘you get what you pay for’ is painfully true – Ryan recommends investing in quality, heavy duty padbolts and locks for your units, that can be set into the concrete. “If you’ve got a thief walking down your row of units, they’re looking for the quick targets, the ones where they can be ‘in and out’. They’re looking for the units with cheap locks that are easily and quietly cut off with bolt-cutters.”.
These may seem like simple things, but they’re easy to overlook – and overlooking them could be compromising the security of your self-storage site, and of your customers’ belongings.
2. Integrated Access Management
Once we’ve got our perimeter security all set up, it’s time to think about access control and management. Our perimeter security is built to keep crime out – but we still need to let staff, storers, and contractors in! The key to this is a robust and holistic access control system.
Your access control system is made up of several elements – your gate, your keypads, your intercoms and your management software. Ideally, you’ll want your gates and keypads (and indeed, most of your security set-up!) to have a back-up power supply in the event of an outage – preventing people from being locked out of (or more alarmingly, in!) your facility. There’s also the design and placement of your keypads to think about – it’s important they have a clear screen that can be easily read by customers in their vehicle, and that they are protected from ram-raids or the accidental ‘mismaneouvre’ of a vehicle by solid, clearly visible bollards.
You’ll also want to ensure that your self storage management software communicates effectively with your access management software, to prevent double-handling of data and reduce the risk of human error. If you’re using two systems that have a cloud-to-cloud integration, such as Storman Cloud and secCloud, then a lot of this administrative work is done for you: once your storer’s details (such as units, PIN codes and access schedule) are recorded in Storman Cloud, the details are sent to secCloud in real time, and voila – your storer can access your site according to the rules you’ve set up for them!
This kind of advanced integration can offer you other benefits, too, depending on your management software – such as the ability to automatically lock out overdue customers at the gate, and unlock them again moments after they’ve paid. This kind of simple automation can be a huge time-saver for your staff, and also go a long way towards increasing the security and safety of your site.
3. Surveillance and On-Site Deterrents
Lastly (but certainly not least!), the final layer – surveillance and on-site deterrents. We’ve covered ways to keep unwanted visitors out, and ways to ensure that your storers, staff and contractors can get in. But what do you need to consider in the event that despite everything, someone is trespassing on your facility?
“The first element of this is deterring the offenders – it’s easy to underestimate the impact simply knowing they’re being watched has on the trespassers,” Ryan tells us. “Motion activated flood lights and cameras – coupled with a broadcasting intercom so your staff or even remote security guards can tell them they’re on camera – can sometimes be enough to let them know the game is up, and get them off your premises.”.
Quality security infrastructure such as cameras also give you a good way to visually verify and check on things that are happening on your site. “A great example of where this comes in handy is people using other people’s pins,” Ryan advises. “If someone uses a code and enters the facility, but an alarm goes off in a unit somewhere else on the property – quality surveillance gear will let you log in and verify that the person who entered the site is actually the user of that pin, and that they went where they were supposed to go. And if not? You’ve got a great little package of video evidence to send to the police.”.
Investing in your cameras and security infrastructure is critical to effective deterrence and surveillance, and can help you achieve scenarios like the above. Security professionals such as secVision can assist with you finding the right hardware for your facility (that will be able to capture and store clear images of any unwanted visitors), as well as help you map out where these should be installed for maximum coverage and effect! If you have any questions about what security system is right for you, we recommend speaking with an experienced provider in your area.
So there you have it! Today we’ve explored a few key things to think about and be aware of when it comes to the security of your self-storage facility, thanks to our friends at secVision. As always, if you have any questions, or if you’d like to understand more about how Storman Cloud can integrate with your access management systems, feel free to get in touch with us using the form below!