Every business has security risks, self storage facilities are not en exception. Advanced Kiosks provides self service kiosks to the self storage industry to automate processes such as rental, bill pay, information, and wayfinding. Having a computer kiosk is a significant improvement in securing a self storage facility and there are other components that also greatly benefit self storage security and compliment the self serve technology. Some examples would be electronic locks, key pads, cameras, alarms, and cloud based applications from providers such as PTI and Janus International.
PTI Security Systems is the creator of EasyCode, a mobile app that allows tenants to enter the facility and access their storage unit using the cloud based app to remotely and securely control keypads, which are also designed by PTI.
Earlier this week, we were able to speak with Thomas Brooks, VP of Sales for PTI security systems to discuss the technology advancements being made to address security issues within the self storage industry. In this interview, we discuss reasons why some self storage facilities are targets for theft, measures that can be taken to improve security, benefits of PTI products and services, and resolving doubts about the true benefits of automation and technology in this industry.
Here are some of the questions and Thomas Brooks’ answers from this week’s interview:
(TB) I think self storage as a whole has a reputation of being susceptible to theft. However, when you truly look at the market and observe the different classifications of facilities, your ‘Class A’ facilities were initially built with a strong security and access control concept in mind.
As a result, those facilities with more advanced security technology have significantly fewer break-ins, reports of vandalism, and occurrence of theft than the facilities that do not have the same level of security and thought put into the initial build and design of the facility.
For example, about twenty years ago, your average facility was a drive up building that could be accessed from all four sides with chain link fences around them. This gives complete visibility to the inside of the facility. You could see what people were putting into their units, when they were on the property, and because of this they lacked a good security or access control presence.
Now, twenty years later it has become much more widely known and adopted that you can use your building as part of your perimeter to block visual access within the facility making less visibility points and ultimately less vulnerability.
The evolution of secure self storage has greatly reduced the number of security incidents, especially in more modern, ‘Class A’ facilities. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma generated from facilities that are out there in areas of very high crime and theft rates.
How can self storage owners and operators take measures to reduce theft?
(TB) Do the research and make the investment in the newest technology to maximize self storage security. Keeping in mind, the access control and security system should accomplish these three things:
- Make the facility more marketable
- Improve the security of the tenants’ goods
- Protect the investment of the owner/operator/developer
It is crucial that your access control solution do those three things. If you approach it in that way, I think you can greatly decrease your chances of theft within your property. These decisions all start from before you break ground, versus at the very end just putting something in because you need to have it. For example, if you design the layout of your facility properly you will greatly reduce access to the facility and you’re going to improve your security.
If you’re using (from a PTI perspective) keypads for both the exits and entryways you greatly reduce theft and vandalism on your property by knowing who is entering and exiting the facility. If ten people enter your facility within an hour and something occurs, you won’t know who your potential suspects are unless you have a keypad in place for exiting the building. Making it possible to know who has left the facility.
How do PTI’s products and services decrease the likelihood of theft?
(TB) PTI has entered the market with EasyCode, which is our mobile app that gives greater detail about tenants who have accessed your facility, where they’ve accessed your facility, and how they’ve exited it. With EasyCode you can see who is on your facility at any given time. In the end, your access control solution and security system should be significant deterrents to theft. People who are looking to steal from a facility often scout it out first. If they see a high number of cameras, keypads at all the exit and entryways, and bright lighting, they’re going to be less likely to risk breaking into that facility than one that has no cameras and leaves their gate open all day.
Another example of an action often taken by a ‘Class A’ facility are restricted access to different parts of the building. Keypads can be installed into elevators to restrict movement between the floors on a multi-story facility. Customers are only given the code to their floor [and thieves are met with an extra step of figuring out how to access three separate codes to get anywhere near a unit]. If a customer has a unit on the fourth floor, they should only have access to the fourth floor. PTI security systems can facilitate that type of restriction.
So what is EasyCode, and how does it work to provide self storage security within a facility?
(TB) EasyCode is an in house developed and proprietary PTI solution. We recently underwent a redevelopment of EasyCode and this Fall we will be re-launching EasyCode back to the market. It will have a new look, feel, greater functionality, an improved tenant interface, and enhanced reliability with the site. EasyCode is an app for tenants that is accessible on both iOS and Android and it does more than just allow you to open the gate and let the tenant access the facility. It allows tenants to engage with the facility with a greater level of control, remotely and conveniently.
EasyCode lives on an application server that is cloud based. Upon activation of the app for a tenant, they are able to open the app, which establishing a connection through the application server with the controller at any of the facilities and they are then able to open the gate, access the climate controlled building, and call the elevator for access to their floor if applicable. Any instances where they have SecurGuard (inside the door electronic lock by Janus International Group) or door alarms, they are able to disarm and unlock the door using the app when they are in front of the door itself.
Why did you decide to develop this solution as a mobile app?
(TB) So if we take a step back, earlier this year Google reported at an industry convention that the majority of 2016 queries for ‘storage near me’ were done from mobile devices versus computers. More prospective tenants are looking to rent storage units on mobile devices than they are from regular PC’s. If we delve further, thinking of Cyber Monday 2016, roughly 85% of all purchases were made on mobile devices. What this tells us is that the population has moved away from PC’s and home based computers and they are more active on their mobile devices.
If a prospective tenant shows up at your facility and they found you using a mobile device, they are more likely to engage with a facility through that same mobile device. Having a mobile application is a great way to differentiate when you’ve got a lot of market build going on because it allows the tenant or prospective tenant to interact with the facility in a way that the tenant is most comfortable with.
They found you via mobile. Offering a mobile app that interacts with the facility and interacts with the facility manager is more likely to differentiate the storage facility owner from the competitor.
What would your response be to those who doubt the benefits of secure self storage technology?
(TB) Well, the self storage industry as a whole has been a slow adopter of technology. We are still in the early stages of a transformation within the self storage industry that’s being driven by technology. From this point, we will see continued adoption and roll out of technology across this industry. I think we still have a period today where early adopters and innovators are a little more excited about it. As they deploy these technologies in their facilities the industry will continue to see the benefit and we’re going to see rapid adoption over the next 2-5 years.
It is the market demand that will create opportunity. As you see more property management software being migrated to cloud based platforms and more mobile applications coming out into the space, it doesn’t appear to be solely the desire of the vendors. It appears to be that the market itself, including the population of prospective tenants, are creating the demand for these types of technologies. Self storage owners will soon have to implement these technologies to remain competitive and attract higher returns on their investment. To me, it is a very clear prospect to say that if I’ve got better technology in my facility, the tenant experience is better than the facility across the street and I can now command a higher rate per square foot, which means my ROI greatly improves.
– Thomas Brooks
VP of Sales, PTI Security Systems
In closing, PTI is playing an important role in the technological advances that are benefiting the self storage industry. The PTI security focus goes hand in hand with the growing adoption of self storage automation and self serve kiosks for storage facilities all over the country. While these assets to self storage stand alone, they work even better when combined to create a complete and secure solution for automated self storage.
Advanced Kiosks recognizes the importance of security in both the hardware and software roles in the self serve technology industry. Making self storage security top priority and working with security experts such as PTI and Janus deliver the best possible solution to the end user.