9/11 Security Industry Impact Disappearing

By John Honovich, Published Aug 31, 2011, 08:00pm EDT

Certainly, 9/11 was a monumental event for the US Security Industry with significant growth after the terrorist attacks. Indeed, many other countries have seen similar shifts after their countries attacks, most recently in India.

Both prioritization and spending on security increased sharply after 9/11. An excellent survey report of the post 9/11 Security Industry can be found in a September 2011 SSI survey article, "9/11 Makes Security Priority #1." [link no longer available] As the title states, the report provides a series of anecdotes and examples of how security's importance increased after 9/11.

A few comments stand out:

  • Big jumps in spending, e.g., a "$20 million [project] turned into $35 million overnight"
  • Glamour of the industry, e.g., "The electronic security industry went from the outhouse to the penthouse"

Looking back over the last ten years, terrorist attacks were a seminal event. Certainly, they were not the only key event as the rapid maturation of consumer internet technologies - software, digital cameras and storage - all drove advances in the industry.

While it is difficult to precisely estimate the role of 9/11 in growing the overall security industry, undoutedbly it was a major positive factor.

The Challenges Looking Forward

While the past decade might be seen as the era of anti-terrorism, current factors indicate a regression to more historical normal attitudes to both terrorism and security. 

Below is a table that nicely illustrates the trend of declining terrorism concerns from Gallup

An August 2011 poll from a different source [link no longer available] now claims Americans think economic issues are twice as important as terrorism.

Declining Anti-Terrorism and Defense Spending

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We are already seeing significant signs of slowing security spending:

  • DHS Anti-terrorism grants cut [link no longer available] 25% or approximately $700 Million
  • Major defense contractor and suppliers reporting declines in revenue as government projects slow
  • The recent budget agreement likely to reduce military spending

With greater economic concerns and fading memories about terrorism attacks, it is fairly sensible that a deprioritization of the security industry will occur.

[Update: A number of the 9/11 commemoration articles criticize anti-terrorism spending waste.]

Outlook

While improved technology will certainly continue to offer advances to the security industry, without any new threats, it is likely that security industry prioritization will recede significantly back towards pre-9/11 levels throughout this decade.

What Do You Think?

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