Does outdoor lighting deter crime? Flipping the switch to lower crime

Modern day workplaces are considered home away from home for most employees. And just like at their real home, employees want to feel safe at work – not just when doing their job, but also entering and leaving the property.

Bright lights could be the difference between crime and safety.

“Criminals don’t want to get caught. When organizations have lights designed to properly illuminate building entrances, parking lots and walkways, criminals are going to be seen trying to break in or mug someone walking to or from the building,” said David Kluskens, a National Council on Qualification for the Lighting Professions (NCQLP) Lighting Certified (LC) design engineer. “Good lighting design is a crime deterrence because the design is engineered to ensure safety by taking into consideration how the space is used, by whom and when.”

Studies around the globe reveal direct correlations between proper lighting designs and reductions in crime.

According to the National Institute of Justice, improving lighting designs of parking lots, community streets, college campuses and other exterior areas can reduce crime and property offenses by 20 percent.

This reduction is due to the offender perceiving a greater risk for apprehension as brighter lights make them more visible. Potential criminals also assume that enhanced lighting equates to the organization or residents investing more in their properties and thus investing more to prevent crime.

Proper lighting design is laid out to eliminate dark areas, ensure light is getting where it needs to be and is designed with security camera systems to work cohesively together, Kluskens explained. This helps combat property destruction, accidents and the litigation that follows, as well as the feeling of being unsafe by those walking to and from their workplace at night.

Optimal lighting is also critical for effective security systems. Any closed circuit television system, license plate or facial recognition system requires proper light to be effective. Over and underexposure both render security systems useless because the identify of the person wouldn’t be detectable. Good image clarity is crucial – not optional – for the best security systems.

Lighting controls is another, often overlooked, way to enhance safety and security, according to Campus Safety Magazine. These controls can turn lighting systems on when movement is detected and off when areas remain unoccupied as well as scheduled to go on and off or even just dimmed for a predetermined amount of time, according to the magazine. The function of having lights turn on during an unauthorized entry or break-in can deter the intruder, while also allowing security personnel to identify where the intruder is.

In fact, good lighting design also just doesn’t deter crime, it improves productivity, morale, and health of employees, according to the American Psychological Association.

“By investing in the health and safety of employees, organizations may benefit from greater productivity and reductions in healthcare costs, absenteeism and accident/injury rates,” according to the APA’s website.

Well controlled, bright lights are essential to keeping workers and property safe while also improving productivity, morale and overall health.

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