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Why is Lighting Important?

Lighting is one of the main principles of CPTED and for many people it makes a big difference in their perception of feeling safe. Have you ever noticed the lighting around places you live, work, and play? We hope to shed some light on the subject and hopefully after you read this blog you will take a second look at your living environment.

CPTED is a multi-disciplinary approach to deterring criminal behavior through environmental design. Lighting has two purposes within the CPTED model. It is used for the illumination of human activity and for security. Have you ever been walking alone at night and felt uncomfortable due to the lack of lighting? Our most important tip is to follow your gut, change course, and if there is an option to take a route in a well-lit area then take that route. If not, be sure to walk with a friend or loved one so you are not walking alone.


Let’s talk about lighting and light measurement. LEDs help aid the cause. The ability to see in a world lit by LED (light emitting diode) versus a world lit by HPS (high pressure sodium) has significantly changed our perception of spatial recognition. Have you ever walked or driven through a neighborhood with lights that glow orange or golden in color? That would be the older HPS lighting that has been or is being replaced by the brighter white LED lights. As you navigate your own community you may notice the pattern of illumination created by lighting in that area. Lighting is measured in multiple ways. The amount of light that leaves a light source is a lumen and a foot candle is the measurement of the light source that reaches the surface. Now you’ll have a fun fact for your next trivia night.


CPTED is based on four key overlapping concepts: Natural Surveillance; Natural Access Control; Territorial Reinforcement; and Maintenance. Natural surveillance can be achieved through the placement of physical features, activities, and people in a way that maximizes visibility.


The four CPTED principles and lighting goals are:

1. Natural Surveillance – In order to see and equally important, be seen, sufficient light must be

available. This applies to both people and CCVE systems.

2. Natural Access Control – Lighting functions as a method to identify perimeters as well as accenting

entrances, paths, and parking lots.

3. Territorial Reinforcement – Lighting indicates the perimeter of a site by providing natural surveillance.

4. Maintenance – Lighting must be maintained to ensure that it continues to function as intended.


Personal safety and security start at home. How is the lighting around your home? Is the perimeter of your home well lit? Are your doorways (both front and back), property access points, parking areas, walkways, or garages well lit? Take a look at your outdoor lighting at night. Look for any dark areas that could become access points for an intruder. You should be asking yourself if you feel safe. There are many great lighting options that can be added to improve your environment, and remember maintenance is a critical component of CPTED. If you see a light out, replace it as soon as possible. If you live in a rental property, be sure to notify management immediately to replace any lights that are not working properly. Pedestrian lighting that line streets and sidewalks is maintained by 311 in most communities. Don’t assume they know when a light is not functioning properly. Give them a call or use a 311 app to notify them to resolve the issue. If lighting is a concern in your community, reach out to your neighborhood association, community leaders or City Council Member and work to create positive change.

Now that you’ve read this blog, I hope that you feel inspired to take action to improve lighting in your environment. You can refer to the four principles mentioned above as your guide in creating a well lit space that builds a sense of safety and security.


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