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Illustration by iStock; Security Management

New Report Measures Global Size, Economic Weight of Physical Security Industry

How big is the global security industry? Up until today, your guess was as good as mine. But a new research report from ASIS International and the Security Industry Association (SIA) provides in-depth insights into the equipment, technologies, and employment of the global security industry.

The exclusive report, Complexities in the Global Security Market: 2024 Through 2026, was produced by global analytics and advisory firm Omdia, which found that the physical security market employs more than 30 million people worldwide. Of those, 210,000 are employed in the equipment market, 7.87 million in the security services market, and 22.6 million as security end users.

The report dug into a variety of subjects, including which security technologies are currently growing, where spending is increasing, employment trends, and more.

“The long-anticipated report within the security profession is now a reality, and I express my sincere pride in the collaborative efforts of the ASIS, SIA, and Omdia teams who have diligently contributed to this significant undertaking,” says Peter O’Neil, FASAE, CAE, CEO of ASIS International. “In emphasizing the importance of partnerships in the security universe, this project stands as a noteworthy example of the impactful outcomes achievable when working collaboratively across borders and professional spheres. As we present this report, it transcends conventional documentation, establishing itself as an enduring benchmark that will shape our understanding and strategies in the years ahead.”

The report had three primary objectives: to understand the macroeconomic importance of the security market, to assess how technology is changing the market, and to deliver a regional assessment of the security industry.

Security in the Macroeconomy

How much is the physical security industry worth? Almost $405 billion in 2023. The security equipment market was worth around $56 billion in 2023, with video surveillance taking up around half of that amount. The physical security equipment market is expected to grow 9 percent year-over-year in 2024. The biggest shares of the market are in China ($14.8 billion, or 29 percent share), North America ($13.6 billion, or 27 percent), and Europe ($9.5 billion, or 19 percent).

The physical security services market is much larger: $319 billion in 2023, primarily in guarding services.

“The security services markets are more heavily influenced by regional or country-specific trends when compared with the equipment markets,” the report said. “Guarding costs are driven by local salary requirements and infrastructure costs. This means that North America has a proportionally higher market size when compared with lower-cost regions such as India or Southeast Asia. The guarding market accounted for an estimated 47 percent of the total security services market in 2022.”

The non-guarding security services market, including installation and equipment maintenance, is nothing to sneeze at though—it is forecast to be worth $117 billion in 2026. Predictive maintenance, building management systems, and remote monitoring are changing how organizations invest in security services, moving more to preventative measures and integrated platforms, the researchers found.

“The market is an important component of the global economy,” the report said. “The services market accounts for 0.3 percent of world GDP and the combined equipment and services market is worth more than ten times the corresponding equipment and services market in public safety critical communications solutions.”

Employment in Security

From equipment manufacturers to distributors, installers, and integrators to outsourced or in-house security teams, more than 30 million people are directly employed across the physical security and fire detection channel, the researchers found. Frontline security is the biggest piece of this pie, accounting for 28.55 million employees in 2023, with more than 31 million of those directly employed, not outsourced.

The majority of physical security industry workers are located in Asia, with 21 percent in China and 37 percent across the rest of Asia and Oceania. Europe and North America accounted for fewer job roles (10 percent and 6 percent of employment respectively) because technology is more readily used there to augment security operations, plus police forces support more core security responsibilities.

“In Asia, countries such as China and India account for a significant proportion of global security industry employment,” the report explained. “Average salaries are lower, and it is more cost effective to employ people to support threat mitigation. As outsourced and in-house guarding is the primary security employer globally, regions with lower cost of labor create opportunity for increased employment.”

The Impact of Technology

The researchers found that the physical security technology market is rapidly changing, citing rapid increases in video surveillance spending and capabilities, as well as increased reliance on security technology to supplement human security services. However, the researchers caution that broader corporate trends, including sustainability or ESG objectives, are likely to influence security technology decisions in the coming years and that solutions with a sustainability angle could see notable growth.

“A potential application is using video surveillance cameras to provide the sensor input for more sustainable smart city solutions,” the report said. “Examples include managing refuse collections based on how full the waste bins are or managing traffic based on the relative flow of different routes. There is also potential for cameras to provide the data for building automation systems to manage heating and lighting based on the number of people on a particular location or floor.”

Changes in technology “represent an opportunity for both equipment vendors and service providers to win business,” and they enabled integrators and end users to align services more effectively with corporate goals.

ASIS and SIA members can access the full report for free online: