Security video, card access control, guard and background check services, budget cuts and privacy concerns are among the top elements of private security this year, according to the 2004SECURITYmagazine Industry Forecast Study.

Annually, SECURITY surveys readers on topics ranging from their organization and reporting structure to buying plans. Last fall, 600 security buyers received a questionnaire with 25 percent usable responses.

Among overall conclusions of the survey:

  • One in ten security executives plans to increase their outsourcing of security services this year.
  • Security operations face a mixture of growth and cut backs with some saying their biggest operational concern is managing budget cuts ordered by their firm while some others say the biggest concern is handling addition and expanded facilities.
  • Nearly six in ten (59 percent) say they have assumed more security responsibilities over the past year.
  • A surprisingly high ten percent report that employees at their organizations have brought up privacy concerns related to the security operation.
  • A vast majority of security executives (90 percent) are pleased with their electronic security systems, saying they are reliable.
  • When asked about purchasing plans for this year, respondents to the 2004 SECURITY Industry Forecast Study rank the top five: security video, access cards, badging and accessories, access control systems and security lighting. Certain security niches show interesting trends.
  • Almost one in ten (nine percent) say they have some type of biometrics device or system, most often fingerprint and hand geometry.
  • And almost two in ten (16 percent) report that they have a problem with false alarms.
Most security buyers responding to the 2004 SECURITY Industry Forecast Study classify themselves as executive management, security loss prevention management or facility management. When asked who else is involved in the decision-making process for security, about half indicate the top executive at the organization or the facility manager. Facility management continues to be the area from which the budget flows. About 44 percent report the security budget falls under facility management, while one quarter say the budget resides in the security department.

Most Have Electronic Security

Electronic security, ranging from security video, burglar alarms, card access and perimeter protection to identification, is growing popular with nearly eight in ten (77 percent) saying they have a system in place and working. And about one in three security operations (27 percent) report they will install a new electronic security system this year. In developing, designing and choosing a new system, the majority of study respondents (68 percent) will depend on in-house staff, while many others will use an outside installing company. About one-fourth will employ an outside systems integrator to handle the task.

Beyond system design, security executives use a variety of those types of outsourced security-related services. One-third or more say they use employee background checks (38 percent), substance abuse testing (37 percent), guarding services (34 percent), central station monitoring (33 percent) and pre-employment screening (30 percent). Also popular: off-site records storage/retrieval, document shredding and training.

For some operations, the budget dollars are impressive.

A little more than one in ten (11 percent) say they spent $1,500,000 or more in 2003 on security products, systems and services. This year almost as many (10 percent) say they will spend the same amount. The biggest budget gain from last year to this year is at the level of $250,000 to $500,000 spending.

As the economy improves and homeland security strategies kick in, nearly one in three respondents to the 2004 SECURITY Industry Forecast Study (29 percent) report their budgets for this year will increase. However, more than four in ten (45 percent) believe the security operation is still understaffed. As a way to underline that feeling, even more (59 percent) say they have taken on more tasks and responsibilities this past year.

More Purchasing This Year

One strategy to overcome understaffing and manage more responsibilities is to bring in more electronic security products and systems.

Over the course of the last five years, there has been a consistency at the top of the most purchased products, including video, access and lighting.

A second tier of products planned to be purchased this year includes burglar alarms, digital video recorders, electric/electromagnetic locks, fire protection systems, sensors/detectors and two-way radios. Concerning the latter radios, always a staple as a carry-along or in-vehicle device, the SECURITY study shows constant eroding of the percent of departments buying the equipment as other communications devices (cellular phones, Blackberries) and wireless computer networking catch on.

Privacy, always a concern for organizations using video, computer and physical surveillance, has taken on a new edge in the post-September 11 environment. Most employees understand or have been educated concerning the need for higher level protection. Still ten percent of security executives report they have heard from employees complaining about security infringing on their privacy.

More charts and coverage of the 2004 SECURITY magazine Industry Forecast Study appear exclusively on the magazine’s Web site at Within the research reports section on the Web, copies of the study are for sale.

Behind the facts and figures of the 2004 SECURITY Industry Forecast Study, there are the statistics and trends specific to crime, risk and losses.

Generally, the FBI Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) both indicate a continued decline in violent and property crime since 1994, although in some cases the decreasing rates are slowing. For the first six months of last year, the UCR numbers show that eight of ten categories of crime fell compared to a similar period in 2002. The two areas of growth: murder and motor vehicle theft. In addition, crime rates vary by where citizens reside and businesses are located. Violent crime, for example, increased in cities of 50,000 to 99,999 residents and property crime increased in cities where there are fewer than 10,000 residents. The UCR comprises crimes reported to sheriffs’ departments and state, county and local police departments. The NCVS samples about 42,000 households, asking questions about reported and unreported crimes.

Corporate Crime Hits Big

Specific to corporate and commercial organizations and government agencies, incidents and losses come from violent and property crimes. Here growth areas include white collar crimes and incidents centering on computers, information and identity thefts and frauds. While there are vastly fewer sophisticated crimes as compared with assaults, robberies and burglaries, losses per incident because of sophisticated business crimes are vastly higher.

It is more difficult to determine what factors influence crime rate decreases.

Some studies show that use of electronic security deters crime. The strength of the economy, and specifically low unemployment, can have an impact. So does effective policing and an effective criminal justice system.

In the latest year of complete statistics, 2002, 6.7 million people were on probation, in jail or prison or on parole. That was 3.1 percent of all U.S. adult residents or one in every 32 adults in the United States. After dramatic increases in the 1980s and 1990s, the incarceration rate has recently leveled off. State and federal prison authorities had 1,440,655 inmates under their jurisdiction at yearend 2002. Local jails held or supervised 737,912 persons awaiting trial or serving a sentence at midyear 2002.


  1. Alarm Install, Maintenance, Repair
  2. Employee Background Checks
  3. Substance Abuse Testing
  4. Guard Services
  5. Central Station Monitoring
10% say they plan to increase outsourcing in 2004
Source: SECURITY magazine 2004 Industry Forecast Study
Screening, contract security officers and alarm monitoring are at the top of a list of outsourced services


  1. Budget Cuts
  2. Facilities Added/Expanded
  3. Downsizing and Layoffs
  4. Sizable Number of New Employees
  5. Facilities Closed/Sold
Source: SECURITY magazine 2004 Industry Forecast Study
Business and economic factors that impact organizations are most often the factors that affect the organization’s security operation.


9% Number of Security Operations with Biometrics

Top Biometrics Approaches:

  • Fingerprint
  • Hand Geometry
Source: SECURITY magazine 2004 Industry Forecast Study
More organizations use biometrics to provide physical and logical access control.

SIDEBAR 4: Biometrics Use Grows

The use of biometrics technologies for physical and logical access control and identification continues to increase. Of those people responding to the 2004 SECURITY Industry Forecast Study who say they have electronic security systems, about ten percent say that biometrics plays a role. The most popular biometrics approaches are fingerprint and hand geometry. Biometrics based on the eye such as iris and retinal approaches are behind the first two in terms of use while facial recognition has grown in use over the past several years.

SIDEBAR 5: Security operations evolve

Percent of security executives saying:

10% Employees at My Organization Complain about Invasion of Their Privacy

59% My Security Responsibilities Have Increased

90% My Electronic Security Systems Are Reliable

Source: SECURITY magazine 2004 Industry Forecast Study

Security management continues to evolve in ways that show how there is more dependence on electronic systems as well as more sensitivity to the affect on employees, customers and visitors.

SIDEBAR 6: plan to purchase this year

Top five products:
  • Security Video
  • Access Cards
  • Badging and Accessories
  • Access Control Systems
  • Security Lighting

Source: SECURITY magazine 2004 Industry Forecast Study

Video surveillance and electronic access control components and systems are again the top purchases planned by security buyers

SIDEBAR 7: Problems with False Alarms

False alarms are a challenge for organizations.

About 16 percent of respondents to the 2004 SECURITY magazine Industry Forecast Study admit that false alarms are a problem. Of those reporting the number of false alarms they had in 2003, one-third say the number is less than three. Another one-third says they had 31 or more alarms in 2003. The average number was 15, with one organization reporting an astounding 600 false alarms last year.

False alarms have become a contentious topic in many communities. Beyond the obvious trouble of false alarms from residential properties, all nonresidential organizations also experience false alarms. Studies by burglar alarm, central station and law enforcement agencies suggest higher amounts of false alarms coming from a smaller group of types of organizations including mom and pop retail establishments, schools and bank branches to name three.

Local police officials, in an effort to cut down on false alarms often sent through a third party monitoring service, have encouraged ordinances and regulations to annually license burglar alarms as well as fine property and business owners for excessive false alarms. Often, the amount of a fine escalates with the number of false alarms in a given period of time. A handful of jurisdictions have instituted or are considering what the municipalities call verified response. In this latter approach, police require on-site verification of an actual alarm prior to dispatch.

SIDEBAR 8: false alarm problems?

16%We Have a Problem with False Alarms

Source: SECURITY magazine
2004 Industry Forecast Study