Nova Scotia

Atlantic Canada sees surge in spending on security systems during the pandemic

Some security companies are seeing a big jump in business as companies look for ways to better secure empty offices and homeowners look for new ways to protect their property.

'We're talking millions of dollars of spending in new security,' says president of security company

Many businesses have been updating or replacing their security systems during the pandemic. (Northeastern Protection Service)

The pandemic is fuelling a boom in the security industry, as with fewer people on job sites and in-person interactions at a minimum, many companies are pouring money into their security systems. 

"Without talking specifics to our company I would say in Atlantic Canada, we're talking millions of dollars of spending in new security," said Roger Miller, president of Northeastern Protection Service.

His security company has seen a 20 per cent jump in business since the pandemic started. One of the items his clients want are panic buttons, so they can covertly call 911. 

"We've seen an increase in some of our clientele requiring panic buttons because we're seeing more distressed people now. We're seeing more people upset, whether they're upset because of the masks or because they have to show proof of vaccine or whatever," he said. 

Roger Miller is president of Northeastern Protection Service. (Submitted by Roger Miller)

Wilsons Security has seen a similar trend in sales in portable panic buttons. The small devices are similar in size to a car fob, and can be worn around the neck or wrist. They have a button that a person can press in an emergency, or it can be triggered automatically if a person falls down. 

The devices have a GPS tracking unit along with a microphone and speaker so the person in trouble can speak with an operator.

"Those units are used for lone workers, if a worker has to work on a site by themselves, which became pretty common in COVID, where we couldn't have multiple people together," said Gordon Hebb, vice-president of sales with Wilsons Security. 

Hebb estimates there's been at least a 20 per cent increase in sales at Wilsons. 

A work crew with Northeastern Protection Service in the midst of installing part of a security system. (Northeastern Protection Service)

The boom in the security industry is being felt from coast to coast, according to Patrick Straw, executive director of the Canadian Security Association. The association is a not-for-profit group that acts as a national voice for the security industry across the country.

He said several thousand companies and private citizens have chosen to install new security systems or upgrade old ones during the pandemic. 

Straw doesn't have any exact figures because he only hears about the systems that are put in by professional services. If someone buys a system online and installs it themselves, there's no way to track it. 

"All we can tell you is that we've monitored over the last two years ... and everybody is really busy both in the commercial sector and the residential sector," he said. 

Part of that spending is being done at home, as people look to protect their property, and also their deliveries with doorbell cameras and alarm systems. 

Homeowners have been installing equipment like doorbell cameras to keep track of parcels dropped off on their property. (Sashkin/Shutterstock)

Exactly what kinds of systems companies are choosing to install has also been informed by the pandemic. 

There's been a rise in touchless door sensors, automatic doors, video intercoms, and remote guarding. Instead of having a security guard patrol a building, video monitoring keeps an eye on the property with a person watching a screen from a control room that could be in another city. 

"They can lock, unlock doors, open gates, they can have two-way audio with an individual coming to your business after hours. But again, removing that person-to-person contact," said Miller. 

Gordon Hebb is vice-president of sales for Wilsons Security. (Submitted by Gordon Hebb)

None of which is cheap. Large companies can spend $100,000 to upgrade or replace their security systems, said Miller. 

In some cases those upgrades have been long overdue, according to Hebb. 

"A lot of people took a step back and they realized that a lot of their equipment was so old that they didn't even know who had the codes for the security system. They couldn't lock down their building," said Hebb.

"They might have had the same security code in them for the past 20 years, for example. And fixing that is probably step one for your team's safety and protecting your assets." 

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