Security for self-storage facilities is evolving as operators strive to meet customer demands to keep their stored belongings safe.
Cloud-based security management, mobile apps and wireless technology are part of the new direction for self-storage security. The benefits are many, such as:
- Centralized administration that can be accessed from remote locations.
- Real-time monitoring.
- Email notifications.
- Reduced costs.
Technology is making a large push toward mobile.
— Steve Weinstein, business development consultant, QuikStor Security & Software Inc.
Low-tech options—good lighting and good locks—can go a long way toward providing a safe environment at self-storage facilities. But many operators now go far beyond that as a matter of routine by instituting the latest high-tech security gear to attract customers.
“A state-of-the-art security system not only provides protection for the customers,” said Jon Loftin, vice president of business development at Scottsdale, AZ-based PTI Security. “It also allows the self-storage operator to compete. Typically, the more security you have, the higher the rates you can charge.”
The self-storage industry can’t claim to be on the leading edge when it comes to security technology, said Steve Weinstein, business development consultant at QuikStor Security & Software Inc. in Van Nuys, CA. But even though the industry has slowly embraced high-tech security, it is waking up to the benefits.
“Technology is becoming more of a regular feature,” Weinstein said. “Before, security was ‘Do you have lights and an access-controlled entrance?’ That has certainly evolved into video surveillance and wireless alarms.”
PTI and QuikStor are among a handful of companies that specialize in high-tech security products and services for the self-storage industry.
Moving Toward Wireless
“What we are seeing right now is definitely a trend into the wireless product,” Loftin said.
Both PTI and QuikStor offer a wireless door alarm for an individual storage unit.
“They are becoming popular, especially for existing storage facilities. You can mount this proactive security measure without gaining access to the unit. As the competition increases, operators are looking to differentiate themselves from the competition and provide a secure and safe place. We are seeing an uptick in the wireless door alarms,” Loftin said.
QuikStor’s Weinstein said some operators remain skeptical, viewing wireless as a “flaky” product.
“We’ve been offering this since 1997, and I can definitely say it’s not a flaky system,” he said.
Wireless definitely offers benefits. For instance, there are no wires to run, and no access needed to individual units. While a wireless system might cost more for the initial hardware, the installation and maintenance can be cheaper.
Appetite for Apps
QuikStor and PTI also offer mobile apps that let a self-storage owner or manager operate a facility remotely.
“They can open the gate. They can view events. They can basically control the whole property from whenever and wherever they are,” Loftin said.
“If I were a self-storage operator and I was sitting at home or I was at the beach in Miami, I could pull out my phone and see who is coming in and out of my property,” he added. “I could click a button to open the gate. I could turn on lights. I can do all that from my beach chair.”
PTI’s Storlogix app has been available for less than a year; it works on both Android and iOS devices. Similar technology is expected to roll out later this year for customers to manage their own units, Loftin said.
QuikStor’s Weinstein said he sees these same trends.
“Technology is making a large push toward mobile. Tablets and smartphones are ubiquitous in the United States and Europe,” he said. “I think that will continue to be a trend in software and security—mobile-accessible or mobile-enabled.”
Video surveillance also has found favor with facility operators in recent years. The technology in that arena continues to improve. Gone are the days of grainy, blurry black-and-white images. They’ve been replaced by high-resolution monitors that show details.
A ‘Layered’ Approach
Security is “hugely important” to customers when they’re shopping for a facility, said Steve Ford, field operations manager at Security Public Storage. But the best security in the world is worthless, he said, if operators don’t actively monitor security measures like alarms and video monitors.
Security Public Storage uses a variety of security measures, including wireless alarms on unit doors, video cameras and digitally controlled gate access. The company promotes its security measures to prospective customers at its 44 facilities in California, Nevada and the Mid-Atlantic.
Ford said it’s important for facilities to evaluate security offerings to make sure they’re user- and manager-friendly. He suggests a “layered” approach with an array of security products.
“The sum is greater than the individual parts—the cameras, the gates, the internal monitors, the internal software and then the people watching it,” Ford said. “We look at the bundle as one package.”