A significant study from New York City demonstrated how new LED lighting technology can have a positive impact on deterring crime. The study concluded that “increased levels of lighting led to a 7 percent overall reduction in “index crimes”—a subset of serious felony crimes that includes murder, robbery and aggravated assault, as well as certain property crimes—and, more specifically, a 39 percent reduction in index crimes that took place at night.”

The study focused on building developments that recently upgraded from legacy lighting sources to LEDs. After the installation, crime rates in these areas dropped significantly.

It wasn’t just the new lighting products, however, that made these areas safer. The key here is not that new lights were installed; more importantly, the overall quality of the light was improved. Proper lighting design can change the way humans feel about their surroundings from a safety point of view.

If safety is one the primary concerns of your restaurant, then you should consider making an upgrade to LEDs. By upgrading the quality of light at your facility with LED lighting, you will also receive the benefits of energy savings as well. With the growing interest in lighting control systems, you now have the ability to design a space that is well lit and provides an economical solution to a lighting design.

But what, exactly, is the best practice for “good lighting design?”

Following guidelines from the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (“IESNA”), best practice involves providing appropriate proper illumination levels for individual space type requirements. There is a difference between a good lighting design for a certain space and the best practice for a space with security being the main priority. The IES publishes a guide for security lighting for people, property and critical infrastructure (IES G-1-16) that highlights recommended light levels for security purposes. A more advanced concept called CPTED, “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design,” is gaining momentum and changing the paradigm for lighting an exterior environment.

CPTED is a multi-disciplinary approach to deter criminal behavior through the use of design principles from planning, architecture, landscape architecture, law enforcement, security personnel, engineers, code enforcement and security maintenance. Yes, lighting design remains important; however, new is the need for collaboration between the aforementioned functions. That’s the essence of CPTED design.

Human Activity & Security

The visual ability to see in an LED world, as opposed to the old HPS world, has changed our perception of spatial recognition significantly. Legacy lighting products may cause shadowing and very high contrast between spots. LEDs can have a much wider range of kelvin temperature compared to legacy lamp sources. This has enhanced our visual acuity along with the ability to have more uniformity, thus creating an evenly illuminated space for a cleaner, brighter nighttime experience.

Throwing more watts and light at problem areas? You’re setting yourself up for glare issues that could ultimately do more harm than good. New optical design options offer design flexibility and backlight control to reduce light trespass. This same technology also helps reduce the amount of up light from a fixture as well. Optic technology can be employed to optimize light task efficiency by focusing intensity on the desired areas.

LEDs also have a better color rendering than traditional lamp sources. Many area lights currently have HPS lamps, which have very poor rendering and can make individuals feel uncomfortable because they cannot see distinct features of objects in the space. LEDs allow us to see details better because of the quality of the light itself. Improved visibility and lighting helps an individual better observe his or her surroundings and respond quicker to a potential threat.

You can say goodbye to the typical grainy, washed-out images of security cameras. With improved optics for LEDs and better quality of light, it is easier for the eye to make out the details in this footage.

Employee Retention

Improving the lighting and overall quality of the space will ultimately contribute to a more inviting environment for customers while keeping them safe during their visit. Not only does this improve the customer experience, it also improves the employee experience as well. Remember, LEDs are directional and can be controlled optically, meaning it is flexible enough to accommodate different patterns of traffic flow on a typical lot and implement precise lighting where it is needed most. Safety does not mean that an area is always at risk. It could also include a level of comfort for employees as they arrive and leave work. Having higher light levels and uniform distributions help individuals with better visual acuity, which leads to feeling more comfortable in a nighttime environment.

Strategic lighting design combined with new LED technology can have a positive impact on deterring crime. Make sure you are including these facts in any discussion about lighting upgrades and retrofits.

Marissa Keisler is a lighting solution specialist at Hubbell Lighting and she can be reached at mkeisler@hubbell.com. Marissa facilitates training in Hubbell’s Lighting Solution Center and she has extensive experience educating lighting designers, specifiers and architects on the latest in lighting and controls solutions. Visit www.lightingsolutionscenter.com and consider joining a class if you are interested in improving the lighting at your facility.  
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