Singapore’s security equipment market looks set to continue to outperform the general economy. Despite an overall gloomy economic forecast, the trade statistics from Singapore’s trade development agency, International Enterprise Singapore, indicate that imports of security products increased by almost 4.0% in 2008, compared to the previous year. The total market size for security equipment had increased by slightly more than 6.0% in 2008 while the overall economy grew at only 1.1%.
The market offers potential for new U.S. firms as many Singaporean agents/distributors are eager to represent U.S. companies. They are especially interested in U.S. suppliers of automated security systems, such as advanced CCTV systems, integrated security systems, electronic card access control systems, smart card technology, intruder detection equipment and biometric systems.
Trade statistics obtained from International Enterprise Singapore indicate that sales of security devices have increased by approximately 6.0% in 2008 from the previous year. Three major trends define prospects for the sale of security hardware and software in Singapore. These trends are increased security of public facilities, tougher measures against cyber-crimes and enhancement of security by commercial buildings and retail outlets, especially hotels.
Public Security: The GOS and the private sector have implemented new security measures. These include: Security measures at the airport, port and in the busy shipping lanes of the Singapore Strait have been tightened. At Changi Airport a new baggage screening system has been installed to detect explosives. The US$45 million L3 scanners use x-ray techniques such as computer tomography to scan baggage. The GOS has also begun using new security technologies including biometrics to identify individuals.
New measures have been added to further enhance maritime and port security. The Singapore Police Coast Guard has sharply stepped up patrols in Singapore’s waters, while the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) has established prohibited zones in the port waters around vital installations such as petrochemical facilities. The Republic of Singapore Navy is also providing random naval escorts of high value merchant ships through the Singapore Straits. Singapore implemented a multi-layered surveillance system through projects led by the Ministry of Defense and the Maritime and Port Authority that were worth some US$30 million covering the Singapore Straits to guard against terrorist attacks.
Singapore has also signed on early to participate in the US Customs’ Container Security Initiative. New X-ray machines purchased from US-based SAIC for detection of bombs, drugs and human cargo were deployed. It is anticipated that more security equipment will be deployed at Singapore ports and elsewhere in key installations that would generate further opportunity for American suppliers to meet local demand.
In addition to being a major destination and transshipment hub for military and dual-use items, Singapore is the first country in South-East Asia to implement controls on strategic goods, which covers some 1000 items by broad categories, including: munitions, chemical and biological items as well as nuclear-related materials. American companies with supply chain and compliance products will find opportunities in Singapore.
DSO National Laboratories (the R&D arm of the Singapore Ministry of Defense or MINDEF) continues to develop its expertise in chemical and biological defense and is the only organization in Singapore with expertise and facilities to screen for anthrax and other dangerous organisms. DSO continues to look for state-of-the-art technologies to implement in Singapore.
Cyber-Crime: As a major user of Information Technology (IT) for its daily activities, Singapore is greatly concerned about cyber-crime and electronic vandalism. To date, Singapore has been spared a high computer crime rate, but the trend is increasing both in number and the nature of offences. The crimes included credit card “swiping” to the cloning of mobile phones, to accessing major networks with a view to using them without payment or to damage them and other linked sites.
Singapore has attempted to deal with the problems of cyber-crime through legislation, enforcement and severe penalties imposed by the courts. The key legislation dealing with computer crime is the Computer Misuse Act. Under the Act, the police have extensive powers of investigation and may recommend harsh penalties, including fines of up to S$10,000 and 20 years imprisonment.
As a major business, communications and finance hub, Singapore is host to many of the world’s multinational corporations. In addition to the myriad private sector organizations, the GOS has established the Cyber-WatchCenter (CWC) to protect public sector agencies from computer viruses and hackers. The CWC incorporates a host of advanced technologies to spot sophisticated attacks, including the ability to correlate seemingly isolated security incidents. In the longer term, the CWC will also aid Singapore’s exchange of cyber-security intelligence with countries around the world and boost global defense against cyber-threats. Suppliers of sophisticated cyber-security products will find opportunities with the private sector and Singapore government.
Security is also being tightened commercial buildings and factories, especially those with American firms. New measures including deploying more security personnel, having visitors register themselves and verifying visitor names with their identification cards, and conducting bag checks when deemed necessary. Suppliers of access and visitor control solutions will find opportunities in Singapore.
Many retail outlets, especially small shops, do not have an electronic article surveillance (EAS) system to address loss prevention or shrinkage issues; they consider such equipment expensive or unnecessary. However, bigger retail outlets have installed sophisticated EAS systems that allow them to reduce losses to less than 1.0%. As the economy continues in decline the Singapore government expects an upturn in property crime and companies are investing in EAS.
By Haw Cheng Ng