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May 19, 2020
(This post has been updated for 2023)
Video surveillance is perhaps the biggest factor in self storage security.
Self storage facilities are becoming ever more popular in the United States. People use self storage facilities as they prepare for a move, downsize into a smaller house, or to store their extra belongings for a while.
Today, it’s estimated that 9 percent of households in the U.S. rent a storage unit. With there being over 54,000 self storage facilities in the country, there are many choices potential customers have when they need extra space for their valuable belongings.
Many factors go into a customer’s decision when choosing which storage unit to rent at which storage facility. Location, of course, is one of the primary driving factors of that decision, but if multiple facilities fit the location needs, what helps one facility stand out among the rest?
If you polled people on what that top factor would be, most would say security.
Think about it – why do people rent a storage unit?
They do so to store their valuable possessions safely and securely because they have no room in their home.
If these customers had space that they owned to store all their possessions, they wouldn’t need a storage unit. Since they don’t, they turn to a storage facility they can trust to protect and safely store their possessions.
Security comes in many forms at a self storage facility, from gated entrances and exits that require personalized codes to be entered to lighting, self storage software, and on-site managers. Perhaps the most essential form of security at a self storage facility is an effective and up-to-date surveillance camera system, especially in today’s world.
Surveillance cameras allow facility managers to monitor everything that is going on at the facility since they can’t be standing guard at every unit at the same time.
Cameras should record 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to account for when managers aren’t on site. This is especially if your facility is open 24/7, which also tends to be a feature that customers consider to be valuable.
That’s why self storage facilities must install surveillance cameras in plain sight throughout the property. This measure of security includes cameras at the entrance and exit gate, cameras in the office, and multiple cameras in every corridor and aisle to properly cover all storage units.
Another way to deter criminals is to post signs on the property saying surveillance cameras are monitoring the property 24/7. It seems like a no-brainer, but think of where you might try to access the facility if you didn’t have clearance and put signs in those places.
Cameras can serve as extra security guards throughout your property.
Most facilities are several acres in size and located back from busy roadways. That, coupled with all the valuable possessions that are inside, makes them prime targets for criminals.
That’s why surveillance cameras are so important for your storage facility, both in terms of attracting new customers and then keeping those customers’ possessions safe. The confidence a robust security system provides to customers is vital to maintain a trusting and worthwhile relationship.
Only having surveillance cameras and posting notices about them is not enough, however. It’s also crucial that you choose the right type of surveillance system. You should prioritize cameras that record 24 hours a day, store their data digitally, and allow you to access the feed remotely at any time.
In the event a criminal somehow gets through the entrance gates and breaks into storage units—or if a current customer with access to the property breaks into other units—your surveillance system becomes the only way to identify and track down the criminal. This possibility is a chance to hopefully return the stolen possessions to the owners of the broken-in storage unit.
That’s why the surveillance system you choose for your facility must be up to snuff with the latest features and technology.
With the constant advance in technology, surveillance systems can be purchased for less than $1,000 nowadays, but it's possible these systems aren't adequate for your self storage facility. While it may come as a significant expense to get a surveillance system in place, remember that your customers are counting on you to keep their possessions safe. A tested surveillance system can do just that.
There are many factors when choosing a surveillance system, such as the number of cameras, the type of cameras, where to position the cameras, and how the cameras will operate. There will also need to be considerations about handling the subsequent footage.
For these reasons, it may be best to consult a surveillance system vendor to help you meet your storage facility’s security needs.
Some of the top features facility managers should consider when choosing a surveillance system are
High-definition video is critical, as it produces a clearer video that can help facility managers and even police identify criminals easier than ever before.
It’s also crucial that employees or managers can monitor the video feeds from a remote location and not just on-site at the facility. This capability is especially helpful when no manager is at the storage facility.
Once those two features are present, it’s time to move on to the issue of data itself.
The surveillance system must have a backup power supply. Backup power is necessary. In the case of a standard power blackout, a storm that knocks the power grid off, or a smart criminal who can cut the main power supply, you'll want to make sure your security cameras can still operate.
This backup power will keep the surveillance cameras running at all times.
Finally, the data the surveillance cameras are producing should be stored in the cloud and on storage devices off-site, not on tapes located in the storage facility. This practice prevents criminals from being able to find the recordings and destroy them.
Once the proper surveillance system has been chosen and installed, with adequate signage around the property, you can rest assured, knowing your customers’ belongings will be safe.
As a storage facility manager or owner, if you have peace of mind about your security system, then you will be able to convey that message to your customers confidently.
Knowing that they can rest easy at night and have confidence in the security of their self storage unit is of great value to your customers.
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