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Big rise in use of CCTV surveillance, access control in India
With crime rate on the increase in India? metropolitan cities, more malls and stores are taking measures to secure their stores, reports Shirish Nadkarni from Mumbai.
The crime graph in Indian metropolitan centres is said to be steadily spiralling upwards. People are increasingly turning to technology and security gadgetry for their own safety and for the safety of their premises.
From large, multi-storeyed department stores to humble individual abodes, they are installing integrated security systems and fire-prevention/control systems of varying degrees of sophistication.
Security, of course, has different connotations to different viewers. Security perceptions vary widely, depending on the object to be secured, who needs to secure it, and the degree and level of security to be provided.
Says R Gopalakrishnan, executive director of the Tata industrial group: “In the face of emerging challenges, the security managers of corporate houses are being expected to work as loss-prevention managers, besides safeguarding against identified physical threats.
oncepts such as return on investment, annual loss exposure or security and loss-prevention management are quite prevalent in the highly competitive corporate world.”
Little wonder, then, that the security-gadgets industry is flourishing in India, with sophisticated equipment being brought in to safeguard people, places and establishments.
Access-control systems available today in the Indian market include gate-automation and identification systems, biometrics-based access control, iris-identification devices, hand-geometry readers, proximity-card systems, remote-controlled electromechanical locks and voice-identification devices.
“Among all the security gadgets, CCTV has been the fastest-evolving sector,” says RP Madhwal, director of the New Delhi-based Building Automation System. “These systems use cameras, monitors, switches, zoom lenses and more to constantly observe the environment from a central remote-monitoring station.”
Equipment for bank, hospital and retail-store security includes intruder and hold-up alarms, bullet-proof cash counters, cash-carrying bags, electronic safes and tamper-proof vaults-schematic plans.
Among systems that use locks, the undoubted leader in the Indian market is Godrej & Boyce Security Division. The Godrej Secure Home, as it has been branded, comprises Avanti security doors, Private Eye video door phones, Eagle burglar and fire-alarm systems and electronic safes.
“The basic electronic home-security system is available for as little as Rs28,000 (US$608),” says Neville Bachana, Godrej & Boyce’s general manager-marketing. “We also provide security consultancy services through our 650-dealer network across the country.”
Providing sterling competition in the electronic locking sector to Godrej & Boyce is the UK-based Chubb group, which, in February 2002, took over Tesa Entry Systems Inc’s wholly-owned Indian subsidiary engaged in the electronic-security business.
The company imports and markets electronic security and locking systems, and also provides specialised after-sales services, including installation, training, networking, upgrading, maintenance of security systems, and technical consultancy in related areas.
Yet another company that has seen a good future in security systems is spark-plug manufacturer Mico India, which has projected 5% of its 2004-05 revenues to come from the sales of security equipment.
The security-system products are part of the business that the company acquired in early-2003 from Philips India for Rs40 million. Philips had a 10% share of the CCTV system market.
“Our parent Bosch Group has a 4% market share of security systems worldwide, so it is an important segment for us,” says VK Vishwanathan, Mico’s joint managing director. “Our products include passive infrared, microwave and tritech range of detectors under the intrusion-alarm category and central monitoring systems.”
In India, Bosch Security Systems is among the major players in video observation and surveillance. It has recently launched access-control and management systems, and fire-alarm systems to clients including Delhi Police and Airports Authority of India.
With more and more large malls and department stores coming up in the metros and mini-metros, the need for electronic security systems has increased rapidly. Many of them utilise CCTV-based surveillance equipment, electronic exit gates and items like security tags and beepers on merchandise.
Many of the top international players, like Sensormatic, are present in India, either through subsidiaries or joint ventures. But these foreign-made systems do not come cheap; and the wafer-thin margins in Indian retail do not permit blind splurging in this sector.
Perhaps, the company that the Indian retail sector turns most to for its security and fire-prevention needs is home-grown Zicom Electronic Security Systems, considered by the market to be the country’s premier electronic security-systems provider.
Zicom offers a wide range of products, including access-control systems using keypads, proximity cards and biometrics readers, CCTV surveillance including remote video surveillance, fire-alarm systems, smart cards, perimeter-protection systems and law-enforcement products.
“We have integrated all these multiple-security applications into one coordinated hardware and software package, as we have strong software capabilities relating to the electronic security business,” says Pramod Rao, Zicom’s managing director.
The company has already tasted success in the Indian market for its products. For example, the company’s fire-detection system, installed at the showroom of Venilal Sarees, reported an alarm to Zicom’s Central Monitoring Station (CMS), where an operator is placed on 24-hour duty.
The operator followed the client’s standing instructions, and reported the fire to the shopowner Vipul Gandhi at his residence. Gandhi rushed to the site, saw thick smoke billowing out from his shop and alerted the fire brigade, who brought the fire under control. Extensive damage to the shop was averted.
Apart from individual offices that are wired to the central monitoring system, quality individual homes have also gone to Zicom for fire-alarm systems. At the top end of the scale are lucrative turnkey projects requiring integrated security systems.
“We are in the midst of providing such a system for Lotus Inc, an international management consultant group specialising in high-tech turnkey projects, for the upcoming software technology park on the outskirts of Bangalore,” says Rao.
“We are providing smart-card-based access-control systems, CCTV surveillance equipment, fire-detection and suppression systems and security-alarm systems.
“The value of the order, which was signed in November last year, is Rs360 million, and we started work in March this year. We expect to complete the job this October.”
The company’s reach was strengthened in November 2003, following a strategic marketing tie-up with Tops Equipment , the security equipment arm of the Rs1.05-billion Topsgrup.
Topsgrup, a total security solutions provider, offers armed and unarmed security guards, event security, canine squads, industrial intelligence, personal investigations, fire services, security audits, corporate risk management, aviation and maritime security, security and surveillance equipment.
“The synergy between us and Topsgrup was in place for our marketing alliance; and the tie-up has helped both companies penetrate into the market and offer customers end-to-end security solutions,” says Rao.
Adds Diwan Rahul Nanda, group CEO and managing director of Topsgrup: “The idea behind forging this partnership was to enable the customers of both companies to have access to what we call ‘total security solutions’, by way of an effective combination of man-machine security solutions interface.
“The alliance has been able to fulfil the rapidly increasing demand by corporates and individuals throughout the country for a wide gamut of quality security equipment.”
The company’s combined sales are targeted at Rs40 million in the first year, going up to Rs100 million in the second year of operation. But both Nanda and Rao agree that the current trend shows the modest sales goal could be easily exceeded, and that the second year’s target may need substantial upward revision.