What can the UAE's security sector expect in 2017?

Experts from the UAE’s FM sector talk to fmME about the key trends and programme innovations that could define security service delivery in the country this year

Big picture: An integration of traditional and innovative security models is underway.
Big picture: An integration of traditional and innovative security models is underway.

A study released last month that the UAE’s facilities management (FM) market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9% between 2016 and 2021.

In addition, the report found that property services “dominated the country’s FM market in 2015”, with the segment expected to “maintain its dominance over the next five years”.

UAE Facility Management Market, 2011-2021, prepared by TechSci Research, states that the country’s FM sector will expand on the back of increased construction development.

Most demand for FM services in the country comes from Dubai “on account of tourism sector” activity in the emirate.

The report continued: “In order to reduce the dependency on crude oil-based exports, the UAE aims to diversify its economy and plans to invest in non-oil sectors, such as construction and real estate. With an improving commercial sector and increasing number of residential projects in the country, the UAE’s FM market is expected to grow at a healthy pace during next five years.

“In addition, the emergence of Cloud-based solutions is further expected to aid the growth of the [FM sector] over the span of next five years.”

Most notably, the report states that security services are expected to register the fastest CAGR by 2021.

The UAE’s security sector reflects the growth patterns that are emerging from its global counterparts.

In June 2016, it was revealed that the global security robots market is estimated to be worth $2.36bn by 2022, expanding at a CAGR of 8.56% between 2016 and 2022. These findings were part of a study titled Security Robots Market – Forecast to 2022, published by India-headquartered agency, Markets and Markets.

Meanwhile, a research produced by the organising team of Intersec 2017 states that “the global physical security market was estimated to be worth $58.6bn in 2014, and is forecasted to grow to $109.3bn by 2020, [expanding] at a CAGR of 10.9%”.

For some more perspective on the size of the global security industry, consider this: the global video surveillance as a service (VSaaS) market is estimated to be worth $2.3bn in 2017.

In addition, according to a Frost & Sullivan research cited by Intersec 2017, if the Middle East’s security market grows at its anticipated CAGR of 23.7% between 2015 and 2020, then it could represent almost 10% of the overall global physical security market by the latter year.

In this regard, the expected CAGR expansion of 9% in the UAE’s FM market is unlikely to appear far-fetched, especially as project pipelines progress as part of the country’s preparation for Dubai Expo 2020. However, regulation will be a key theme that will shape this evolution in the years to come.

In October last year, gym operator Fitness First was in the news for its decision to install CCTVs across the changing areas of its select facilities.

In an email to its members dated 20 October, 2016, Fitness First Middle East said CCTVs would be installed at its clubs after permits to the effect were received from authorities.

Premises under CCTV supervision would be “clearly marked”, the operator stated, adding “the footage is under strict supervision and vigilance”.

Dubai’s Department of Protective Systems was consulted prior to the installation of CCTVs, George Flooks, COO of Fitness First Middle East told fmME, but did not respond to queries about why the decision was taken in the first place or which security company is managing the footage recorded on site.

Clearly, regulation – and a market-wide compliance to it – is at the crux of how security services in the UAE evolve. Tim Mundell, chief security officer at Transguard Group, says the UAE’s “constantly evolving” security sector could witness regulatory changes in the next five years: “More regulation of security providers is expected. Regulations in place today are good; however, Transguard expects and welcomes even more regulation to further increase the standard of manned security services.”

Outlining additional market trends he expects will be recorded in the next five years, Mundell adds: “Technology will undoubtedly play a big role in the market. So called ‘smart guarding’ applications, edge devices, and the ability to receive real-time security data will enhance security provision while driving down operational costs.

“Facial recognition and their tie-in with UAE biometric [databases] is an interesting perspective going forward, for which Transguard today is already receiving requests for information.”

Transguard’s security portfolio offers services such as manned guarding; event security; smart security solutions; certified explosive detection canine operations; design and consulting; and systems integration. The company focuses on the UAE market and provides security services to banks, malls and entertainment parks, and hotels in the country, Mundell says.

Mundell says Transguard “frequently” fields requests for security technology implementation from its clients: “This covers a broad spectrum of features, including access control, perimeter fencing, command and control centres, detection systems, CCTVs, video analytics, social media monitoring, under-vehicle scanning, intrusion detection, and biometrics, to name a few.

“Increasingly, our larger clients are requesting a fully integrated life cycle security model wherein technology is developed with the whole system in mind, ensuring whatever [platform] is invested in will be cost-effective and secure in the long term.

“Clients in every sector – from aviation to hospitality and FM – are now working in partnership with outsourced experts to plan and implement their entire security requirement.

“This could include security risk management models, conceptualisation and design of security infrastructure, and operations and management, right through to manguarding and training. In many instances, [the scope of work] will include all of these,” Mundell adds.

Meanwhile, Alex Davies, managing director of Emrill, points out how the UAE’s changing security requirements are making an impact on the human element of the industry: “People are the first priority, and there is a growing focus on quality, presentation, and preparedness, since security guards are increasingly the public face of a facility.”

Davies says Emrill is focused on higher standards of “recruitment and internal soft services training to meet this trend”. Emrill currently employs 1,200 staff within its safety and security team, which includes qualified and licensed security managers, security supervisors, CCTV operators, and patrol and static guards. The company offers security services such as manguarding, systems monitoring, and operations and maintenance.

Emrill’s managing director believes customer experience will be among the top trends shaping local security service delivery in 2017: “Clients typically demand well-trained and fully-prepared guards for their facilities but increasingly, the demand is more on the soft skills side, wherein guards focus more on the customer experience.

“This is particularly important in situations where guards encounter building users and residents, as approachability and helpfulness are key. How a guard approaches them on a day-to-day basis is critical to adding value to the facility.”

This requirement points to a shift in client visions, and it appears that the bridge between security and FM services delivery has finally found firm footing in the UAE. Transguard’s Mundell agrees, adding: “[Currently], Transguard security services contracts directly with the end-user or contract owner. However, we see a maturing in certain sectors and customers, as the market now sees the value in a more integrated approach to facility operations and facility security. This can – if [developed] correctly – bring considerable savings on the customer’s bottom-line.”

Transguard currently provides a suite of life cycle security products and services, including consulting, installation and systems integration, contract operation, and system maintenance. The company’s on-the-job training programmes cover modules such as DPS and NSI approvals; certified fire training; certified first aid; incident management; conflict resolution; customer service; radio communications; and CCTV operations.

A key part of Transguard’s security service offering is its Canine Explosive Detection division, which was launched in September 2016 to support “a major international aviation company... in the screening of air cargo, as well as supporting major international sporting events in the UAE”, Mundell reveals.

He adds: “The initial challenges included attaining the relevant license to conduct such activities, as this is a first for the UAE in the commercial sense.”

It is altogether likely that 2017 will bring more such firsts for the UAE, especially as the role of technology in improving security service delivery is fine-tuned locally.

Emrill’s Davies also lists the rising demand for tech as a major theme that will shape the company’s security services portfolio in the new year.

He adds: “Increased technology usage of both fixed and mobile devices is a major trend we expect in 2017.

“The impact of Internet of Things (IoT) and facial recognition technology will drive these installations to work more effectively with the data available, and to give security providers the information they need in order to act more efficiently.

“[We’re noticing] increased use of systems within buildings to compliment manguarding services. In 2017, we expect a move from the installation and integration of new technology to an increased focus on data usage, and the resulting information provided will drive forward an intelligence-based approach.”

The UAE’s FM market is set for rapid growth in the years to come, and security companies that adapt their strategies to match market needs will have a chance to share the success.

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