With the frenetic pace of the Festive Season, it’s all too easy to forget how short the daylight hours are. On the shortest day (21st December), the UK sunset is just before 4 pm, meaning many people will struggle to enjoy much daylight at all!
Even in the modern age with our addiction to artificial light, shorter daylight hours still make outdoor activities more difficult and it is vital that security management systems take this into account. Unfortunately, reduced daylight can also offer unwelcome opportunities for criminals such as thieves or intruders.
A lack of daylight can present additional challenges for any security regime. External areas such as car parks, footpaths and grounds can be particularly risky, so it’s vital that people feel safe and that property is protected from theft or damage.
Take a secure office for example, which probably uses a mixture of CCTV surveillance and human security teams to watch over the facility. Unless you are using night-vision cameras (which are expensive), the CCTV system will rely upon natural light or electric lights to operate outside daylight hours.
With the consideration of energy costs and green issues, many lighting systems are now sensor-controlled, only being used when needed. This obviously makes it harder to view less well-lit areas, particularly around the perimeter.
During shorter days this doesn’t just apply outside normal business hours either. Mornings having less light, as do the evenings, which affects staff and visitors arriving and leaving. Areas such as car parks and perimeter exits, with lower levels of artificial lighting, can be particularly at risk.
The security regime will face similar low light issues to night time, but with the complications of staff and visitors moving in, around and out of the facilities. It’s vital that security systems, operators and teams adapt to these changing needs.
Ensuring Automated Systems Adapt
Many modern integrated security systems can automatically adapt to the daylight changes with pre-installed reminders. However, older systems or those that employ certain legacy components, may not always adapt unaided.
There can also be potential problems when the clocks change (either forwards or backwards). Some systems could easily record the same ‘clock hour’ twice (albeit in two different time zones) or seemingly lose an hour, so it is vital that any security systems can register the difference.
Also, an integrated security system (including CCTV, access control and intruder sensors/alarms etc.) is based around the prediction and expectancy of authorised visitors and shift patterns, as well as relative inactivity outside these times. This can also be affected by seasonal patterns.
Access control systems tend to take the lead through the working day, whilst CCTV and intruder alarms become the 'eyes and ears’ of security to track potential intruders outside hours. It only takes one component to be unaware of the time changes and the security network can be compromised.
It could be as simple as a legacy analogue CCTV camera showing the wrong time – but this could very well cause all sorts of issues and confusion when investigating a security incident.
Wider Security Needs
It’s not unusual for modern integrated security systems to be linked across different locations, including different countries and time zones. This is already a complex prospect, but when daylight savings are involved (some of which can occur on different dates), it can become even more complicated!
It is also worth mentioning that not all counties operate daylight savings changes, in fact, many don’t use it at all - examples being Russia, China and Saudi Arabia.
All in all, it is vital that all security systems are operated with the changes in official time and shifting daylight hours firmly in mind – otherwise, there can be worrying gaps in your normally stringent protection!