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It pays to be security conscious

Nov 2012 Security Systems | Comments Off on It pays to be security conscious
It pays to be security conscious

Security remains a sector largely untapped by the electrical contracting market. Yet, in the following article, Andy Clements examines the huge business potential that this still growing sector offers the electrical industry in both Scotland and Ireland.

The UK security market as a whole continues to grow and there are two main reasons for this. It is generally accepted that in difficult times – and we are witnessing record spending cuts and high unemployment – levels of crime will increase. This is resulting in more businesses and homeowners recognising the value of protecting their property and taking appropriate measures to do so. Add to this the continued development of technology – which is allowing more sophisticated, as well as more cost-effective systems to be brought to market – and you have a recipe for continued expansion of the sector.

Yet, as it stands, security remains a sector largely untapped by the electrical contracting market. Although historically the electrical trade has been involved in the supply and installation of intruder alarms, there is a general opinion that, over and above this particular product category, security is still considered to be a specialist area and, as such, comes under the remit of the professional security installer.

The reality is that the security industry presents electrical contractors – and wholesalers – with a tangible opportunity for diversification. With many already possessing the necessary skills to operate in this complementary and growing sector, they are ideally placed to take full advantage and add an extremely lucrative addition to their electrical business.

Intruder alarms

Of the three main product sectors within the overall security category – access control, CCTV and intruder alarms – it is the latter which is showing least growth. The market for intruder alarms is a mature one and – with pricing remaining competitive – growth levels are consequently subdued. It is estimated that the market will continue to decline as more and more businesses turn to CCTV-based security solutions. This is yet another reason for electrical contractors and installers to embrace the need to develop his or her skills.

The greatest area for growth is within the access control and CCTV product sectors.

Access control

Access control systems are electronic security solutions that are installed to control, monitor and restrict the movement of people, assets or vehicles into, around and out of a building or location. They can be used to control as little as one door or to provide the full requirement of an integrated multi site access control system.

Products range from fob-based proximity readers and digital keypads, through to biometric identification systems and associated hardware. The primary function of access control systems is to allow visitors and residents to gain access whilst managing individual user permissions to ensure that access is granted to the correct areas at the correct times.

There are broadly three levels of system available. A basic access control security system will be installed to protect a single door and use audio entry systems, video entry systems or keypad/PIN devices. The main applications for this system type are front or rear doors to premises and it is typically used for small business premises or offices with un-manned receptions, residential blocks of flats and also schools.

A standalone access control system could also involve a small network of card readers controlled by local door controllers. These systems are suitable for one or two door installations within small offices, building sites, schools or retail units.

Networked or PC-based access control systems will comprise a front-end PC connected to a network of door controllers and card readers. These systems are typically used for multi-door and/or multi-site installations within larger office premises, warehouses, industrial units, universities and hospitals.


The UK is the most surveyed country in Europe, having an estimated 4.25m CCTV cameras installed. Yet despite the proliferation of surveillance cameras, the quality of the images has historically been low and has driven the need for improved technology.

CCTV security systems can take the form of simple video surveillance systems for small shops and business premises to large, complex projects, such as urban traffic management systems, town centre surveillance systems and high profile buildings.

The latest in CCTV security technology offers superb results using high definition cameras, either analogue or IP (Internet Protocol) based, alongside comprehensive digital recording equipment suitable for long term image archiving and remote from site viewing through PC networks and smart phones.

CCTV installation is also becoming far more user friendly through application of intelligent user menus. The ability to offer and professionally install a comprehensive system to meet customer demand has never been more accessible, even for a relatively inexperienced electrical contractor.

Whilst town centre centralised monitoring or motorway based traffic control CCTV is probably still out of reach of the average contracting firm, a huge demand exists from the SME sector. These businesses and organisations see closed circuit television as an essential tool to protect and monitor their staff, their premises, their stock and their customers.

Note that opportunities are not restricted to new installations. The market for refurbishment and upgrade of existing systems is already well established.

Real growth potential

The evidence is there that security is a growing and developing market and, by aligning themselves with manufacturers who are experienced operators in this sector, electrical wholesalers, contractors and installers can take advantage of this growth potential.