Off Guard

Written by Garima Pant | Updated: Dec 14 2008, 06:59am hrs
Look around, look beyond - there is an armed man standing at all corners, a hidden camera following you and a metal detector waiting to frisk you. The demand for Indias private armies is rising. The unprecedented surge in demand for private security has been precipitated by the terror strikes that have hit India in the last decade. And the terror attacks on Mumbai have given this demand a further boost. With India being black-listed as one of the 20 most dangerous destinations in the world with an ever rising crime rate, the private security industry is expected to experience major growth.

Growing demand

The demand for private security has grown manifold as more private companies are looking for terror protection and are roping in international risk assessment firms to advise them on bolstering security. Detailed analysis is being done about having armed or unarmed guards manning premises, whether to install close circuit cameras and other security measures, said Col Jagat Trikha, Executive Director of Central Association of Private Security Industry (CAPSI) an umbrella organisation of private security firms. According to industry experts, the sector could experience up to 35% growth over the next five years. As per an analysis by the US-based consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, The security market earned revenues of $800 million in 2007 and is estimated to reach over $1 billion in 2016. An ASSOCHAM report also stated that the Rs 22,000-crore private security business would go up at least five times in next four years and will touch Rs 50,000 crore as security all of a sudden has become the top priority of Indian Inc. The demand for security equipment has also increased following the attacks as, hotels, shopping malls and other companies have started revamping their surveillance systems. The report also suggested that the industry, which has been growing at 25% over the past 5-7 years, would achieve a growth rate of 125% by 2012. It is also expected that over two lakh security professionals would be required in industrial installations in the next few years.

Industry at large

The private security sector, which currently employs an estimated 5.5 million people and comprising of more than 15,000 guard companies, making it the worlds largest private security force, is expected to generate one million new jobs every year. Born in the 1960s, this sector started with a handful of large players. Today, companies like G4S, SIS, Tops, SDB CISCO, Peregrine, Checkmate, Premier, GI Security, and some others offer security services nationwide. The growth of the industry has been helped by the Private Security Agency (Regulation) Act of 2005. The legislation was enacted with an objective that such agencies would supplement the task of police forces. However, only few states such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have implemented it.

Demand drivers

According to industry experts, the demand for security is coming from almost all the sectors such as IT, infrastructure, BPOs, retail, media and other sensitive installations. With terrorists targeting hotels, malls and hospitals, the security industry has kept the overall market buzzing. Rupal Sinha, Regional Managing Director, India, Bhutan, Mauritius and Srilanka, G4S, says the private security industry has to gear up to offer client specific integrated security solutions.

With the Mumbai attack, the hospitality sector and the shopping malls are really tightening their security arrangements, said Sinha. G4S has seen maximum demand for security coming from states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra (especially Mumbai and Pune), NCR, Gujarat, Chandigarh, Kolkata and Chennai. However, the level and the demand for security will defer from sector to sector. The security requirements need to be optimised according to the surroundings. The offerings made by the industry are constant. What changes is the configuration and the way risk is handled in a particular facility, says Deepak Thakur, Director, South Asia, Honeywell Security.

Next decades fastest growing security sectors

IT systems are a key tool to integrate millions of sensors, screening systems, intelligence sources, databases and operational assets into an effective infrastructure.

Next decades fastest growing security sectors Information Technology (IT) systems

IT systems are a key tool to integrate millions of sensors, screening systems, intelligence sources, databases and operational assets into an effective infrastructure.

Command Control Communication & Intelligence (C3I) Systems

C3I and net-centric systems will be introduced into most of the airports, seaports, smart cities and government operations to counter terror headquarters.

Cyber security systems

The cyber world is becoming a major battlefield in the conflict with terrorism. The vulnerability of the cyber networks will only increase along with the demand for new counter terror cyber tools.

Biometric identification systems (e.g., e-passport)

It is estimated that by 2018, about 2.5 billion global residents will have some sort of smart ID documents. The EU, India and China are leading this market.

Nuclear/Radiological logical terror mitigations systems

This market is forecasted to grow rapidly once the technological and managerial issues are resolved. Defending gas-oil energy facilities Tens of $ billion will be allocated by the energy producing states to defend this important energy infrastructure.

Border security

Many important and expensive border protection programmes are currently on the table (Mexico, the US, Saudi borders) will be realised at a cost of more than $50,000.

Intelligence SIGINT systems

Surveillance, cyber space protection and cellular telephones will be used extensively by the worlds intelligence communities.

(Source Homeland Security Research Corporation)