A parking lot at night with cars and lightposts

Security Areas and Lighting!

William F. Booth, CPP Security Assessment, Security Survey, Security Threat Assessment


A parking lot at night with cars and lightposts

I have been the security expert in over 400 lawsuits alleging inadequate or negligent security. Many of those cases happened at night and, in most, the plaintiff alleged that the light was not adequate. Since lighting is one of the few security areas in which written standards exist, it is absolutely essential that your building entrances, pedestrian areas, or parking lots have the proper amount of lighting. The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, the Protection of Assets Manuals, and the American National Standards Institute have all published standards for security lighting.

The purpose of security lighting is assistance in access control, identification of perpetrators of crime, and deterrence of undesirable or criminal acts. The reason that more types of certain crimes are committed at night is the anonymity that darkness provides the criminal. Lighting takes away that anonymity. Numerous studies in Europe and the United States have shown that effective lighting prevents crime.

Many third-party crimes take place in building parking lots. In a lawsuit, not having enough parking lot light is extremely difficult to defend. Some factors about parking lot lighting which you may not have considered include:

  • The height of the light source is extremely important. Luminaries set below eye level do not illuminate faces, a basic need for identification. A height of 15 feet or higher seems to perform much better than ground-mounted or the common thirty-inch walkway lights.
  • Mounting luminaires higher, spacing them further apart, and using higher wattage lamps, will often result in a much lower initial cost of installation. However, lower mounting heights are often more sympathetic to the environment. In addition, neighbors may complain if there is a lot of light spillover.
  • Other factors to consider besides pole spacing and lamp wattage include:
    • Type of lamp used (some lamps produce much more usable light per watt than others)
    • Color rendition for closed circuit television
    • Nature of the fixture
    • Distribution of light from the luminaire (the type of reflector used, and other physical features)
    • Vegetation in the area (Are trees and bushes “eating” the light?)
    • Reflectance of paving material

View your parking lots from outside your company property, much as a potential criminal would do. Can you positively identify persons in the lots? Do you know what the standards are? Are you meeting the standards? Don’t put yourself or your organization in the difficult position of defending a negligent security lawsuit due to a claim of inadequate light.


Plan. Protect. Prosper.

Protus3 specializes in security system design, security consulting, corporate investigations and other investigative services. Partner with Protus3 and we will examine each situation to identify threats and develop solutions for your best outcome.

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