How Smart Devices and Connected Facilities are Changing the Self-Storage Game

Posted by Poppy Behrens on Jun 21, 2018 12:00:00 AM

Self-storage facilities have been around for a very long time. They’re a mainstay of western culture — whenever there’s someone with too much stuff, there’s been a self-storage unit operator that’s been ready and willing to keep that personal property safe and secure, whether it’s an extra bedroom set, antiques and collectibles, or any other sort of valuable under the sun.

Self-storage hasn’t remained stagnant, however. As technologies have evolved over time, savvy site owners and operators have kept up with these improvements. Climate and humidity-controlled units have made it easier for site owners to accommodate the needs of their renters, and the safety of these renters’ valuables have benefited from new security technologies from more tamper-resistant padlocks to better site access control to prevent unauthorized visitors.

Today, security technology has developed even further. The prevalence and ease of access to the internet through wireless connectivity have resulted in some true innovations. These developments have not just improved site security but also provided renters better and more convenient ways to manage their storage units and their contents. This has, in turn, made self-storage sites that adopt these technological advancements in the form of smart devices and connected facilities more popular with renters, leading to better financial success for their owners and operators.

The future of self-storage has certainly arrived. Today, we’ll be discussing what form these technologies have taken, how they function, and how implementing these technologies in your self-storage facility can pave the way for happy, satisfied renters and your own continued success.

What Are Connected Devices Exactly?

Smart devices, sometimes called connected or even enhanced devices, aren’t necessarily new. However, in the context of using smart devices in self-storage facilities, their use is an emergent trend that’s time has certainly come. Before any discussion of the specific ways smart devices are being adapted for self-storage sites and how they can help these sites provide better, more secure services to renters, it’s important to understand just what connected devices are and how they operate.

The core component of any “smart” device, whether it’s a mobile phone, a television, or even a toaster, is the ability to provide higher levels of functionality than a standard version of the device. When Apple pioneered the iPhone in 2007, for example, the company combined all the core functions of a traditional phone — taking and placing calls and sending text messages — and provided additional features like high-definition cameras, the ability to connect to the internet, and an operating system that allowed users to download software applications and run them on the phone.

Today, “smart” phones come in all shapes and sizes, but they all share these same abilities. Innovators have taken this template and run with it, applying the same principles of connectivity to household devices to increase their functionality — often in combination with an owner’s smartphone. An excellent example of this is in the well-established trend of connected thermostats. These digital devices do more than allow you to set the temperature manually or even to load it with pre-programmed changes; since manufacturers have integrated Wi-Fi connectivity into these devices, they can be controlled remotely from anywhere you have internet access.

It goes much farther than being able to turn up the heat in your bedroom before you leave for home after a long day at the office, though. Internet connectivity can be built into not just thermostats but any number of objects, such as:

  • light bulbs
  • power sockets
  • televisions and home theater equipment
  • door locks
  • doorbells
  • video cameras
  • central air/HVAC systems
  • garage doors
  • flood sensors
  • motion sensors
  • smoke detectors
  • door and window sensors
  • ovens, refrigerators, and other home appliances

All of this connectivity allows you to monitor and modify the condition of your home from anywhere in the world. In other words, when it comes to the everyday applications of smart devices in the average person’s life, the sky is absolutely the limit.

The Security Applications of Smart Devices

It’s this last example that begins to showcase the potential that smart devices have for the self-storage industry. While there are always strategies you as site owner/operator can use to keep your site safe and secure, 20th-century methods like key locks or even combination locks are inherently less secure because they are physical safeguards. A determined thief or troublemaker can gain access to a user’s storage unit with an assortment of tools — bump keys, lockpicks, or bolt cutters, to name a few.

Electronic locks are, of course, more difficult to defeat through traditional bypass methods. You can’t pick a lock if it doesn’t have a keyhole but instead a keypad or even a magnetic card reader, two methods that have been used in the past to provide more security for self-storage facilities. Yet even despite this higher level of security, such measures aren’t infallible — physical theft of a magcard is always a remote possibility, as is having your passcode security compromised through any number of ways.

However, sites secured by smart devices offer the highest in security measures, ones that are largely immune to even more complex or advanced bypass methods. A smart-enabled site access door or gate can be remotely unlocked with the swipe of a phone touchscreen. Mobile phone theft is also not an immediate loss of security, as smartphones offer built-in protections such as passcodes or even fingerprint scanners to unlock. Suddenly, a specific unit — or even a whole facility — is much less prone to unauthorized access than ever before.

Implementation and Installation of Connected Devices

We’ve already told you about how connected devices can benefit site security. However, transitioning to a keyless entry system that relies on installing connected smart devices and integrating those devices into your existing self-storage site’s security system may sound like a daunting task indeed. These things take time to install, they require you to learn how to operate them, they may require physical maintenance or calls to a help desk, and — almost certainly — they represent a major investment on your part.

It’s only natural if you have these doubts in mind. However, the truth is that integrating smart devices into your site’s existing security technologies doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Dependent on your existing security technologies, smart controllers for door and gate locks, wireless security cameras, and other security features can be integrated with much less fuss and furor than you might think.

Additionally, the financial component of upgrading to a connected self-storage site is a major boon when it comes to potential profit opportunities. These systems are both flexible and scalable, making it easy to implement a setup that is cost-effective for your site while also providing the kind of security that drives the kind of renter satisfaction that leads to longer storage unit leases and positive word-of-mouth. It’s also true that your increased operational budget from installing and maintaining these systems can be passed on to your renters in the form of higher monthly fees — something that, once your renters know that this supplies them with better site security in general.

Leaving This to the Experts

It’s relatively simple to set up a connected device at home. You purchase a smart light bulb, for example, over the internet and it gets delivered to your house. You simply swap it with a bulb in your existing lamp; a few minutes spent with the included manual and you’re up and running, able to turn your lights on and off from anywhere in the world.

This isn’t the case with more advanced smart devices, though. A connected security system designed to be used in a self-storage site will need professional installation and setup because of the complexity of the system. Even a modest system with only a handful of devices will need to be physically installed, configured, and tested to ensure everything is working as it should be — preferably before the installer has gone home for the day!

It helps, of course, to ensure you partner with a skilled and reputable self-storage site security expert. Finding a vendor with the experience and expertise to install and maintain smart devices and connected security networks will take much of the guesswork out of the entire process, and it will provide you peace-of-mind that your new security system is firing on all cylinders and ready to keep your self-storage facility more secure. If you want to explore the possibilities of transitioning to a smart network for your security needs, consult the experts at PTI Security today.