21-23 Aug 2024
ICC, Sydney

Thirty years of Security

Nov 16, 2014

As Australasia’s premier security industry event approaches its 30th anniversary, we take the opportunity to consider how the Australian industry has evolved over the past 30 years and what will influence the ever changing face of security in the future.

Taking off

The early 1980s saw considerable development across the security industry. Accessible technology equipped security guards with new skills, advances in biometrics included iris scanning, Apple Macintosh launched home computing and Australia digitalised its fingerprint databases.

Some of these advances, among others, were showcased at the inaugural Security Exhibition & Conference; an initiative of the Australian Security Industry Association Limited (ASIAL). The year was 1986; the same year ‘Guards and Security Officers’ were introduced into Census reports.

People engaged in security functions outside the more traditional public police are now increasingly involved in a vast array of policing responsibilities on a daily basis. The most commonly identified roles include activities that may be best described as ‘order maintenance’, including crowd control, property management, guarding and patrolling, the escorting of prisoners and court security.

But private operatives are also active in crime prevention consulting, risk management and insurance assessment, weapons training, crime scene examination, surveillance activities (including CCTV monitoring), private investigations, assistance with forensic evidence-gathering, information technology advising, hi-tech systems development and communications support.

The 1990s saw a rapid expansion of these roles. Consequently, there were formal revisions of industry regulation across Australia, followed by a period of legislative and industry stability.

Rapid expansion   

Australia followed an international trend of substantial growth in security services (Sarre & Prenzler, 2011) and the Security Exhibition & Conference reflected it; in 1999, the 14th Security Exhibition & Conference was a sell-out event.

The exhibition displayed the latest in alarms, access control, CCTV and more; conference delegates listened intently to local and international speakers on a range of topics; technology forums looked to the future …

And it was an exciting time to be looking to the future because, not only was the industry growing in numbers, technology was evolving and changing the face of the security.

The 1990s and 2000s were characterised by the start of the move away from the analogue era towards the IP age.

Control panels moved to micro processers offering greater functionality and download capability; alarm transmission moved from Securitel to IP and GPRS for higher security applications; CCTV cameras came of age, with higher resolution images becoming the order of the day following developments in analogue technology; and the Sydney 2000 Olympics were on the horizon, with a $100 million security budget.

Turning point

Assisting Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and the Olympic Police Command Centre put ASIAL in the driver’s seat in helping develop world-class cooperation between the industry and public bodies, including police and emergency services, and in the lead up to the Olympics a special security exhibition was held at Goulburn Police Academy.

In this way, the Sydney 2000 Olympics were an important turning point for both public and private sectors of the security industry. But an even more significant turning point was only a year away; the tragic events of 9/11, which understandably sparked security concerns the world over.

The 9/11 attacks changed the security landscape forever. Security professionals have since been increasingly called upon to play a role in protecting critical infrastructure; the number of Australian security businesses jumping from 1,714 in 1999 to 5,478 in 2006-07.

And just as the security industry entered a new phase, so too did the Security Exhibition & Conference. By the end of 2006, Diversified Communications Australia acquired the exhibition. In conjunction with Diversified Communications Australia, ASIAL continues to be involved in organising the conference and associated networking events.

In the post-9/11 world, it was not surprising to find out that the security industry was growing at a faster rate than both the increasing growth in police numbers and the Australian population. Available figures also indicated the industry was much larger in numbers than conventional police personnel (Sarre & Prenzler, 2011).

The new security environment has fostered greater collaboration between the public and private sectors, with the most recent illustration being joint efforts to enhance security measures in light of the National Terrorism Public Alert level being raised from Medium to High.

Looking to the future

Three factors will continue to see the security industry play an ever growing role in safeguarding the interests of business, government and the wider community:

  •  The emergence of exciting and dynamic new technologies –continue to create new business opportunities for security industry professionals. These new technologies also present new training opportunities, which will in turn continue to contribute to the:
  • Increased professionalism of the security industry – particularly due to the emergence of tertiary qualifications in specialist security fields. Many security specialists are also embracing traditional business qualifications, giving rise to a new generation of hybrid security professionals.
  • The changing nature of public policing – police forces across the country are coming under growing pressure to find ways to gain greater operational efficiencies (Owens, 2014). To achieve this they will work together with the private security industry, and/or look to outsource some of their operations.

Moving forward, expect to see more rapid advancements in technology and continued growth in demand for private security services.

Security Exhibition & Conference 2015

Just as the security industry continues to evolve, grow and prosper, so too does the Security Exhibition & Conference.

This year’s event was hailed the most successful but we are looking forward to making 2015 the best show yet!

Join us and celebrate 30 years of security innovation at Melbourne from 15-17 July 2015.

About the author: Kirsty Jagger, Marketing and Communications Manager, Australian Security Industry Association Limited, www.asial.com.au.

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