Modern Lighting Technology in the Growing Security Industry|
Private security is one of the fastest growing industries in the Unites States, with 2009 growth projections predicting a 17% increase in size by 2016. Much of this growth is a direct result of the currently high concerns with crime and terrorism as the corporate and civilian sectors seek ways to combat their increase. Since 2003, the number of active security guards has risen steadily and is expected to continue this increase well into the foreseeable future. According to the National Association of Security Companies, between 11,000 and 15,000 companies employ 1.2 million private security officers. Most of these guards perform their duties unarmed and rely on little more than a flashlight and a cell phone to protect their employer’s property from theft, vandalism, terrorism and illegal activity.
Many of these guards patrol large properties and rely on rolling patrols in vehicles to cover as much of the area as possible in a short period of time. Their effectiveness hinges on their ability to clearly identify any activity that may pose a threat or hazard and report it to the authorities. A large number of these security guards patrol in their own vehicles and are limited in their ability to properly survey large areas because of the type of equipment provided to them. On grounds that can cover over 20 acres in size, a large multiple cell flashlight is just not going to be a very effective tool for illuminating objects at any distances over a couple hundred feet. Compounding this problem is the fact that at long distances, criminals and trespassers can easily see such weak illumination well before there is any chance it may reveal their activities, in effect giving them advanced warning of the guards presence.
Further adding to the difficulties security officers face in patrolling these properties is the fact that their duties must be performed in all manner of weather conditions. It does not matter if there is rain or snow; security officers must be able to secure their employers property regardless of the weather conditions. Criminals do not take time off because of inclement weather and neither can those charged with preventing their intrusion into secure areas. This is an added difficulty, especially for security guards who operate from their own vehicles, as it means their primary tool represented by visibility is obstructed. They must compensate by either leaving the vehicle and performing slow and hazardous foot patrols more often, or relying on weak and ineffective vehicle and portable lighting to illuminate the premises in these conditions.
It is because of concerns such as these that effective tools be made available to those charged with insuring the security of these properties. Perhaps one of the most effective improvements that can be made is in the area of portable security lighting. In the past, law enforcement and security professionals relied on traditional multi cell flashlights and pillar mounted spotlights to fulfill the majority of their illumination requirements. Although generally effective for their intended purposes, these illumination sources left a great deal to be desired and were far from efficient or durable. It was not uncommon for flashlights to need frequent battery and bulb replacements, and spotlights mounted to the window pillars of vehicles were poorly protected from the elements, leading to the need for frequent maintenance and repairs.
Today’s modern technology has vastly improved the options available to professionals in the security industry. Lithium Ion batteries and the development of the LED lamp have led to portable lighting equipment that is far advanced from where it was ten years ago. Vehicle mounted lamps have advanced as well, and the offerings available now can serve in a multitude of applications with an effectiveness and efficiency only imagined a decade ago. In the case of vehicle mounted spotlights, consider what the staple setup in law enforcement spotlight equipment once was. In the vast majority of cases, a basic chrome plated spotlight was mounted either through the door, or to the window pillar on the driver’s side of the vehicle. These lights usually encountered eventual problems with water leakage where the mounting hardware went through the vehicle body, and loosening of the mounting hardware. They used incandescent bulbs with tungsten filaments that had short life spans and were easily damaged by the heavy impacts and vibrations often encountered in law enforcement work.
Modern vehicle spotlights no longer need to have any of these weaknesses. Using the HID Golight Stryker 3051H-M Wireless Remote Control Spotlight offered by Larson Electronics as an example, we can examine all the improvements that make previous forms of security lamps obsolete. In the Golight Stryker, the first notable difference is that the spotlight uses a 200lbs grip magnetic base for mounting to vehicle surfaces. This allows the Stryker spotlight to be mounted on the top of a vehicle rather than permanently affixed to one side. This greatly improves the available degree to which the spotlight can be directed without obstruction and allows the operator to direct the light where it is needed regardless of the positioning of the vehicle. The magnetic mounting is a great benefit for security professionals who perform patrols in their personal vehicles, as the light can be easily switched from one vehicle to another during shift changes with no need for changes in wiring or mounting hardware. There is no direct wiring involved and power is supplied by a standard cigarette lighter adapter.
The next obvious difference in the Stryker is the remote operability of the spotlight. With a wireless remote control, the operator can remain within the vehicle during inclement weather and still effectively direct the light. Unlike traditional spotlights however, the Stryker can be operated from up to 250 feet away from the vehicle, giving the operator the ability to direct the light wherever it is needed while out of the vehicle. This is a great benefit for security officers who must frequently leave their vehicles to check on locked gates, secured equipment, or suspicious activities and need a strong source of illumination to help enhance their safety.
Further adding to the performance of the Golight is the HID lamp contained within the unit’s weather proof housing. This lamp produces 15 million candlepower and is far brighter than traditional halogen bulbs. The beam is effective up to 2800 feet, making it an excellent spotlight for illumination objects on large properties from significant distances. The powerful beam from a HID lamp is much more effective than incandescent lamps at cutting through rain and inclement weather conditions as well. The HID lamp has no tungsten filament that can be damaged by impacts or vibrations, so it is very durable and rugged. The HID design is much more efficient as well, drawing significantly less power than a halogen lamp, reducing the drain on a vehicles electrical system. Finally, the HID lamp is much longer lived than a normal incandescent lamp, further improving the cost efficiency of it operation.
Security professionals have as their primary goal the prevention of unlawful intrusion or actions on private property. The most important aspect of their duties involves being able to effectively observe and report regardless of the conditions or situation. Since most of their duties involve night time patrols and surveillance of often times large properties, their lighting equipment must be of the latest design and highest quality in order for their performance to be as effective as possible. Modern technology like wireless remote controls and high intensity discharge lamps represent some of the best tools available for achieving their goals. As the competition within the growing security field increases, it will be the firms that make the best use of this modern technology that stand at the forefront.