The security week that was: 07/25/08

Self-sorting security

In this last week, I flew through an airport using the self-selecting security lanes. These are the lanes that feed you through the scanners and allow you to select yourself as "expert traveler", "casual traveler", or "families & special assistance" in terms of your ability to get everything ready to be scanned. Two things I have realized about trying to navigate through the self-select security lanes: 1) everyone still just chooses the shortest lane, and 2) the number of people entering a lane almost always is greater than the number of people and bags that a checkpoint can process at any particular time. In the end, I think the self-sort model is an interesting idea, but faces natural limitations in its effectiveness. I put a post about these TSA lanes in my SIW blog.

AlliedBarton to sell to equity firm
Acquisition would give firm even more money to grow

Making news today was AlliedBarton, one of the top providers of security services in the U.S. The company announced jointly with The Blackstone Group (an investing firm/bank) that one of Blackstone's funds would be acquiring AlliedBarton. This is fairly standard practice; equity firms tend to purchase companies, hold them for a few years, boost their profitability, and then "flip" them. The Blackstone Group hasn't done this in the security arena before, but they have plenty of experience doing this in other "service" areas. The projected acquisition price has not yet been disclosed.

COPS Monitoring acquires SAI accounts
128,000 accounts change hands

In a major move within the central station monitoring business, COPS Monitoring is acquiring the wholesale accounts from SAI. The sales represents more than 900 dealer contracts and over 128,000 subscriber accounts. SAI says it will be refocusing on services to the retail industry.

The growth roadmap for biometric security spending
From $3B to $7.3B in five years

ABI Research, a London research company, predicts that spending on biometric technologies for security (IT and physical security) will jump from about $3 billion in 2008 to $7.3 billion in 2013. In contrast, revenues for video surveillance are expected to jump from $245 million to $900 million in the same time. Admittedly, that's not an apples-to-apples comparison -- it's total spending on biometric security systems compared to revenues for video surveillance systems.

In other news
New assistant editor for SD&I magazine, Blackwater refocuses, Convergence benchmarking

Please help us extend a warm welcome to new Security Dealer & Integrator magazine assistant editor Natalia Kosk. She joins our Chicago office and besides the hard work she'll put into making sure issues of SD&I are top notch, you can probably expect to find her journalist voice on as well.

Blackwater, a private security specialists firm based in North Carolina, has been known for the services it has provided in Iraq. It's also known for catching a great amount of congressional and public outcry over "privatized" war efforts. Now, the company says that it's goal never was to become so heavily focused on providing war-arena security contract services. Instead, the company's executives says they intend to refocus Blackwater on training, handling logistics and even providing aviation services. From the story, it sounds like the intense media coverage of the company has made them shy away from wanting to pursue more and more overseas government security contracts (although it will, of course, be completing its existing contract in Iraq).

Ray Bernard, a technical editor for Security Technology & Design magazine, today initiated a benchmarking survey designed to find out where we as an industry stand on convergence. His project involves a multi-part survey. The good news is that it takes less than a minute to complete each part of the survey. Part one is up now and will be available for the next month. Answer three quick questions on how IT and physical security are converging in your business; the survey is designed for business owners, CSOs, security directors and consultants working directly with a company on a security project.

Finally, we close with a look at our most read stories of the week: