building at night

Security Lighting

Dana Frentz, CHPA, PSP Security Assessment, Security Survey, Security Threat Assessment


This is the first in a series of videos that Protus3 will be doing on lighting, specifically, security lighting.

Ideally, lighting should be designed so that a person feels as secure at night as they do during the day.

Lighting is very subjective. It invokes feelings that in turn provide a choice. Lighting in and of itself does not stop crime. It can influence whether a person chooses to take a chance at committing a crime.

It can also influence if a person chooses to enter a darkened area. Typically people tend to feel more secure when they perceive or feel that an area is well lit. When vision is compromised by darkness, the fear of crime is elevated.

So what are the right levels of security lighting?

Let’s start with what the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) says. They are considered the lighting authority. They seek to improve the lighted environment by bringing together those with lighting knowledge and translating that knowledge into actions that benefit the public.

In the IES publication G-1-16 Security Lighting for People, Property, and Critical Infrastructure, the writers focused on developing guidelines that are easily understood and easy to apply.

In addition to lighting guidelines, they also discuss security issues and ways to mitigate risks from a security perspective.

Security lighting is intended to provide protection for people, property, and critical infrastructure from criminal or nefarious activities. The phrase “when security is an issue” is used throughout the publication to differentiate lighting design suggestions when security is a primary concern.

As part of a well-balanced security plan, security lighting has the following objectives.

  • Lighting should be enough that those performing the security function can see what they’re doing.
  • There should be ample lighting to provide a clear view of an area at a distance so that movement can be easily noticed and recognized.
  • Light levels should illuminate any hiding places and they should also permit facial recognition from at least 30 feet.
  • Today’s cameras need less light than ever before, but you still need to make sure that the light levels complement all of your other security devices.
  • You want to assure that lighting is such that it can deter people from wanting to commit a criminal or inappropriate activity due to fear of detection.

Not all facilities or locations require special consideration or enhanced security. Those who are responsible for risk management and security must perform due diligence. They should determine what is the actual risk and what countermeasures need to be taken.