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Diversifying Security Technology

BRIJOT IMAGING Systems, Inc., headquartered in Orlando, Florida, manufactures a passive millimeter wave technology that allows users to detect whether an individual is concealing an object underneath his or her clothes. The technology (named GEN 2) can distinguish between the energy a person is emitting and the energy of a concealed object. Since it’s a passive “stand-off” tool, individuals don’t have to enter a scanning kiosk; and according to the company, the image’s resolution is such that details like a person’s sex are not evident on the screen image. These attributes might make GEN 2 sound like a good candidate for airport screening technology— and the company is pursuing that possibility—but the company is already diversifying by reaching out for private sector clients.

Looking past the federal market into the private sector is a key to success for many of the small and mid-level companies offering technology that has national security applications. David Fishering, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, says that even companies with major government contracts should diversify their client base. “That’s one of the things that in my position I keep trying to tell them to do: ‘You need to find somewhere else to sell this thing. You need to figure out another way to make a business case as to why an office like mine or where you’re at would need one of these.’”

Completely relying on the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) market is risky, says Fishering. “If your only customer is TSA, then your future is tied to whether they decide to buy more of your stuff or need more of your equipment. And taking that a step further, your future’s tied to their budget, which is tied to the federal budget, which is tied to whatever [policies] Congress and/or the President make.”

Scott Greiper, managing director at New York City-based investment firm Legend Merchant Group (LMG), adds that government programs are often delayed, making them difficult to rely on. Greiper founded LMG’s Convergent Security Group in part to assist with the convergence of technologies for government and private-sector security. Another reason companies should look into the private sector is that those organizations are more likely to take a risk on a smaller company than the government is, he says.

Greiper says that analytics is an example of a technology that was developed for airports and government applications but is also thriving in the private sector, particularly in retail. In that sector, it helps companies achieve security and nonsecurity objectives, such as tracking customer traffic through stores. Return on investment is the overarching theme in the success of these types of technologies in the private sector, says Greiper.