Lighting is the key to public safety

There is something about the night that still puts fear into us.

Something primal, an instinct leftover from the days of the earliest Homo sapiens. Still in the modern era we have street lights to light sidewalks and roadways to help prevent accidents and crime. We still have a need for the safety of light in the darkness.

While lighting may not be as exciting as cameras, perimeter intrusion devices, and access control it is very important. I did a study for a larger Michigan university a few years ago on their exterior campus lighting. This was brought forth by an alleged sexual assault case which thankfully turned out to be fake, however we did continue with the study.

The campus was a mixture of old high pressure sodium which are the same as those old yellow street lights you may be used to and new LED lighting. With campus budgets only certain areas could be upgraded at a time.

A colleague and myself arrived at night with some drawings and a light meter and started taking average numbers of certain areas around the campus parking lots, pathways, bus stops, common areas, entrances to buildings, etc. We found some very disturbing results. A few of the entrances ways did not have a light and only had contribution from the site lighting around it. Our meter displayed 0 foot-candles. I was standing inside of that entrance way while my colleague took readings at another post. I was writing some notes down and a student walking toward the lecture hall was startled by me. It was so dark in that space she couldn't even see my silhouette.

An easy remedy is to install a wall pack with a photocell to light the alcove and provide a safe entrance for night classes. Proper lighting will do far more to deter criminals than a video surveillance system could

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