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Plenty of Opportunities in the U.K. Security Sector

The U.K. is one of the most advanced security markets in the world. Numerous opportunities in a variety of sectors have international players keenly examining how to take advantage.

The U.K. is one of the most advanced security markets in the world. Numerous opportunities in a variety of sectors have international players keenly examining how to take advantage.

Growing segments in the U.K. are enterprise, education, healthcare, transportation and retail, said Alun John, Chief Executive of Upperpoint Distribution, one of whose trading companies includes Norbain SD. Meanwhile, i & i Limited, a market research company, has identified the most attractive segments as retail, education, communication and computer buildings, high-tech manufacturing, and life sciences. Ken MacDonald, U.K. Regional Sales Manager for Visual Defence, stated that the security market is seeing intense growth in the access control and biometric sectors, especially among universities, colleges and hospitals as well as for personal data protection technologies and ANPR systems.

Potential growth market segments include telecom businesses or cable network providers, said Colin Kramer, Marketing Director, EMEA, ADI-Gardiner. Other segments named were education, where integration of intruder, CCTV and access control is a growing requirement; waste disposal companies, a segment affected by fast political and social climate changes; transportation; finance; and the IT industry.

Market drivers, continued Kramer, include access control and fire-related regulations; growth of voice evacuation fire and PA systems; expanded sales of partial hearing loops; increased demand for traffic management as town center traffic schemes need more CCTV and ANPR systems; attempts to deal with social problems, including disruptive and violent behavior, which has given rise to more CCTV with audio features; litter and fly tipping, where similar schemes are penalizing offenders; planned New Domestic housing projects; economic drivers such as domestic security through large retail outlets; and increasingly affordable broadband .

Waste management is a considerable problem in the U.K., said James Walker, Managing Director of Dallmeier. Landfills in the U.K. are spaces open to the public

for the free disposal of garbage. A big hole is dug in the ground, and later covered over when filled with waste. CCTV is needed on these sites to monitor individuals' compliance with waste disposal rules. Private companies are required to pay to get rid of their waste; and ANPR can be used to catch cars that visit several times a week, if these are being driven by company staff seeking to avoid payment.


"In the U.K.," said Tim Giles, Product Marketing Manager, NiceVision EMEA, Nice Systems, "there is a need to demonstrate ongoing action to secure the traveling public. If this does not happen, ticket sales fall. After the July 2005 London bombings, many stopped traveling by public transport for a period of time. Making the public feel safer is a key issue in this country."

"In transportation, there are mainly two concerns: anti-terrorism and related public confidence in the network;" said Ken Sutherland, Surveillance Solutions Director, Telindus Surveillance Solutions, "the other is the operator's No 1 priority to get the infrastructure running again very soon after an incident, as passengers experience a lot of inconvenience whenever train or bus schedules are disrupted. The best way to do this is to understand what happened as quickly as possible; to capture this information. If the operators have got video analysis that can be brought into quick deployment, then the network can be running again as soon as possible." There is currently a move to have security onboard both rail and underground trains, said Abhishek Khurana, Product Manager for COE. Both overground and underground trains have similar needs: control room operators want to be able to monitor passengers onboard. As for buses, most urban buses already have onboard cameras as well as DVRs. However, needs are different on buses than on trains: Whereas the former environment is subject to more vandalism and graffiti, the latter is more vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Khurana estimated growth at 15 percent to 20 percent in transportation, adding that the critical infrastructure segment, one that is burgeoning both in the U.K. and worldwide, is growing at 12 percent to 14 percent annually.

City Surveillance

Urban and town surveillance, said Sutherland, is pretty straight-forward: it consists of efficient policing. "There are endless complaints in the U.K. concerning the small number of police officers visible on the streets, as I am sure is the case in many other countries. If an officer can view and decide how to respond to an event very rapidly, then there can be more efficient use of resources."

Both Sutherland and Paul Everett, Senior Research Analyst at IMS Research, spoke of a trend cropping up in city center surveillance, namely, installation of speakers on streets. When operators working in central control rooms, looking at video, see individuals or groups causing disturbances or carrying out acts of vandalism, they can send verbal warnings to delinquents that they are to be arrested unless such action stops immediately. Additionally, Chris Williams, Marketing Director of Wavelet Technology, pointed to city center analog systems being replaced by IP-based ones. Khurana estimated that growth in this segment is about 10 percent.


As befits a nation of shop-keepers, retail is big business for the security industry. The 2006 Retail Crime Survey carried out by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) suggested that crime had cost retailers approximately US$26 billion since 2000, despite the industry having spent over $8.5 billion on security measures. According to the consortium, more than a third of consumer spending in the U.K. is spent in shops and, surprisingly, sales over the Internet account for less than 4 percent of total retail sales. In 2006, security specialist TAC said although $65.75 billion was expected to be spent in the U.K. over the Christmas period, a considerable chunk of that could be heading straight back out the door again if crime is not properly addressed. The claim comes after research carried out by TAC revealed that only 9 percent of retailers nationally treated security as a priority. It said retailers must ensure they make the most of the technology available to them in the fight against crime.

"When looking at the results of the survey region by region," said John Sage, Security Solutions Manager at TAC, "it is clear to see the correlation between retailers who do not prioritize security and the effect that it has concerning crime in the region." Cities where retail managers rated security as the least important priority were Liverpool, with a high 40 percent result, then Newcastle and Nottingham jointly at second with 35 percent of retail managers rating security as least important. London came in third with 30 percent.

The European Retail Theft Barometer

IV 2006 recorded shrinkage levels of 1.33 percent of total U.K. retail sales with an estimated loss of nearly $8 billion in 2006 from a combination of theft and transaction and supply chain errors. U.K. retailers estimate that, in 2006, some $3.37 billion in losses were attributable to customer theft (43.3 percent of the total); a further $2.96 billion (38 percent) came from staff theft; $1.11 billion was attributed to internal error; while suppliers generated a further $343 million (4.4 percent), creating a total shrinkage of $7.79 billion in the U.K. alone last year, said Steve Gorski, Managing Director of Axis Communications (U.K.). For expanding global players like Tesco and Wal-Mart, these figures contribute significantly to profit levels as margins are increasingly tight.

"Shops are dynamic environments that change all the time," continued Sage, "yet frequently you see cameras in corners of the room that have never been moved to allow for changes in merchandising. Often the technology in place is absolutely fine but the setup, positioning and even camera lenses are wrong." Security technology, he continued, is within everyone's reach, from a four-channel system for small or independent retailers to an enterprise-wide digital system for town centers and shopping malls.

It is difficult to be precise when it comes to which are the fastest growing market segments, said Douglas Greenwell, Sales & Marketing Director at Group 4 Securicor, with regret. In the retail market, he explained, margins are extremely tight; therefore, retailers are much keener to invest in electronic than manned security. Electronic article surveillance (EAS)the devices trigger alarms if customers attempts to remove items from shops without payingare popular. Music stores, especially, are heavy users of EAS, said Greenwell.

Noteworthy Projects

"The Olympics is going to be the biggest business opportunity for the next five years," said Walker. Government funding for security has been frozen, said John, but this will change in preparation for the 2012 Olympics. The security projects for the Games will begin in 2009 or 2010, and overall and surrounding infrastructure and security are estimated to cost $2.2 billion. East London has been chosen as the designated area for redevelopment in preparation for the Games. However, Walker stated that Games-related construction will not only be taking place in London, but other areas as well. Although the Games themselves are being held in the capital, in the weeks leading up to the Games, participating teams will be descending all over the country to seek training and accommodation facilities, thus boosting construction. There will be little "pockets of opportunity" all across the U.K., Walker believes.

Security will be the tightest ever seen; the security budget was announced by the U.K. Culture Secretary to be a record-breaking $1.17 billion. The U.K. private security industry is expected to cooperate on an unprecedented level, with industry players hoping that the Games will be the perfect opportunity to showcase British technology, especially in the field of security. The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) has set up its Procurement Policy, and already has a Web site on which security and other companies can register interest in order to receive email announcements about tender opportunities.

Before the July 2005 London bombings, the Olympic bid had promi sed a slimmed-down but highly professional security operation. However, these proposals were reviewed and, already in 2005, there were calls for metal detectors and security checks to be installed at London Underground stations. When London presented its Olympic bid to the International Olympic Committee in Singapore, security promised to include security controls at Olympic venues, access control and security checks at entry points ("Mag & Bag"), and 6,500 security staff. Other than the Games themselves, there will be many other events to secure. In London's bid for the 2012 Games, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) outlined its vision for a Cultural Olympiad, a festival running from 2008 to 2012. The program includes, among others, live sites, a network of big outdoor screens; a World Cultural Festival; an International Shakespeare Festival; and the U.K. Cultural Festival. David Evans, BSIA Olympic Games 2012 Project Director, highlighted other existing events running alongside or close to the time of the Olympics, most of which are regular London events: horseracing competitions, football matches, the Queen's 60th Jubilee, the Wimbledon tennis championships, and the Notting Hill Carnival.

Neil Haworth, Sales Consultant, Traffic Systems, Initial Electronic Security Systems (a Rentokil Initial company), was involved in the London congestion charge project. England is currently looking at consolidating six traffic control rooms for shared information and redundancy; each room will be responsible for between 60 and 107 cameras, he revealed. "The largest project in the U.K. right now is the Highways Agency's upgrade and expansion one, which was started in 2004 and is looking to install more than 3,000 cameras in the next four to five years, with a total project value of approximately $1 billion," Haworth explained.

Walker pointed to Britain's first Las Vegas-style super-casino to be built in Manchester. The city's bid organizers said it would regenerate a poor area in the east of the city, promising a $522.5 million investment. The Gambling Act 2005 defines a super-casino as one with a minimum customer area of 5,000 square meters and up to 1,250 unlimited-jackpot slot machines. The government also expects the super-casino to have hotels, conference facilities, restaurants, bars and areas for live entertainment. Eleven smaller casinos are also planned.

Finally, IMS Research pointed to the U.K.'s first biometric immigration controls project, which went live at Heathrow Airport in spring 2005. As part of the government's Project Iris Recognition Immigration System (IRIS) scheme, registered travellers returning to the U.K. are now able to bypass queues at Heathrow using automatic gates equipped with iris-scanning technology. Project IRIS is now active in another four airports within the U.K. In addition, in February 2007 the scheme was launched at Birmingham International Airport. Approximately 61,000 people have now registered with IRIS, which suggests that the technology is becoming more accepted by end users.

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