Electronic access cards…keypads and PINs…photo ID badges…eyes, hands, fingers…think of all the different credentials people use to identify themselves in the workplace.

American businesses and institutions have never been more concerned about security as they are now, so Security Distributing & Marketing set out to measure the industry’s progress in providing that security. In a series of articles, SDM reports the results of the first-ever research that asks Americans about electronic security measures used at work. To achieve simplicity and consistency, SDM’s survey asked which of six different security measures were used at work: burglar alarms, video surveillance, door locks, card access/keypads, ID badges and fire alarms. These results were cross-referenced by demographic segments, such as major metropolitan areas, to provide a gauge of the present and a benchmark for the future.

Across the United States, one-third of Americans say that card access and keypads are a workplace-employed security measure. But the national total belies the intricacies found in each market.

City by city, the results vary, sometimes widely. According to SDM’s research, the top five major metropolitan areas in which workers say they use access control in the workplace are:

1. Hartford-New Haven, Conn.

2. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.

3. Chicago, Ill.

4. Atlanta, Ga.

5. Detroit, Mich.

The first three of these metro areas are profiled in this article. By examining these cities’ business climates and employment conditions, and talking to security companies in these markets, SDM attempts to get the story behind the numbers.

And each city has a story to tell. For example, one would have expected metro areas such as Washington D.C., New York, and Los Angeles to rank among the top five, yet they don’t. Charlotte, N.C. – a fast-growing community – ranks last on SDM’s list of the top 30 metro areas with access control. One must take into consideration the perception of the respondent. In Washington, for example, which ranks ninth, nearly every building has some type of access control, says Alan Kruglak, senior vice president of Genesis Security Systems LLC, Germantown, Md. But perhaps most don’t even notice the security because it’s only operational after-hours.

No. 1 in Workplace Access Controls: Hartford-New Haven

The Hartford-New Haven, Conn., metropolitan area is very distinct for its significance to the electronic security industry. About two-thirds of employed people in the Hartford-New Haven metro area say their workplaces are equipped with burglar alarm systems. Further, more than half of workers indicate their workplaces use card access/keypads – making Hartford-New Haven the No. 1 metropolitan area in the United States for both of these security measures, according to SDM’s Consumer Study: Workplace & Home Security.

So what is it about Hartford-New Haven that makes it more likely to implement electronic security in businesses and institutions? One possible answer is the types of businesses that populate this area.

While a heavy manufacturing strain still exists, it is being replaced with insurance, financial, real estate, and computer science businesses, says Joseph Rusnak, director of marketing communications at the Connecticut Business & Industry Association in Hartford. “A major source of income is insurance. My feeling is that in an industry such as insurance, they are extremely concerned about the security and confidentiality of their data. So they would be amongst the leaders in that area of security,” Rusnak says.

Yale University is located in New Haven and “has a significant portion of [New Haven] real estate,” says Jamie Orvis, president of Security Solutions Inc., a security dealer based in Norwalk, Conn. “Yale is very security conscious. All of their buildings have access control and a lot of people are employed in that realm.”

Connecticut residents also have the highest per capita disposable income of all 50 states (but less than the District of Columbia), according to 2003 data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis. This means that Connecticut residents have great purchasing power – and that may extend to the ability for small and medium-size business owners to invest in electronic security.


Haven, Connecticut

• Population rank: 42

• Property crime rate: 3,108.8 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants

• Percentage of white-

collar workers: 67%

• Percentage of burglar alarms in the workplace: 68%

• Percentage of card access/

keypads in the workplace: 52%

Minneapolis – St. Paul

Home to corporations such as General Mills, Target, 3M, Xcel Energy, Cargill, and Land O’ Lakes – as well as a burgeoning hospital and healthcare industry – is the Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn., metropolitan area. Although it ranks as the 15th largest metro area in the United States in population, it is the second largest area with access controls in its residents’ workplaces. Exactly one-half of workers indicate that their workplaces use card access systems and/or keypads.

As many as two-thirds of workers in this metro area are considered white collar, and Minnesota projects many new job openings also will be white collar – a trend that corresponds with facilities that require security.

According to the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, “Minnesota is facing a projected employment increase of over one million jobs between 1996 and 2006. Economic prosperity and a fast growing job market has created a short supply of available workers in Minnesota, with the highest levels of hiring demand in healthcare and technical positions, social services, personal care and service, construction trades, and computer professional occupations.”

The Chamber notes that 16 of the Fortune 500’s largest U.S. corporations are headquartered in the metro area. Minneapolis-St. Paul also is home to campuses of the Univ. of Minnesota, with approximately 40,000 full-time students.

The food industry has become extremely security-conscious since Sept. 11 and the healthcare industry was legislated into tighter security with privacy laws.

“A lot of the tenant spaces in high rise and mid rise are occupied by service companies that have data centers in them,” claims Terry Mullett, president and CEO of Trans-American Security Services, Burnsville, Minn. “Additional to that would be a high concentration of hospitals in the area. They are a large buyer of access control for not only general security, but for doctors’ offices, surgical areas, pharmacies, emergency rooms, and such.”

Mullett admits there is “a lot of competition for that marketplace. You’ll find a number of integrators in the Minnesota area, not just the Twin Cities.”

Trans-American Security, which has been in business since 1966, focuses primarily on the commercial property management market, particularly in negotiating access control management services with building owners and tenants. “We’re finding that our access management center is popular with some smaller applications – five to 15 doors maximum. A client would not have to buy the computer or software; they purchase the access management service from us. ”

Minneapolis-St. Paul,


• Population rank: 15

• Property crime rate: 3,694.1 crimes per 100,000 inhabitants

• Percentage of white-collar workers: 67% Minneapolis; 64% St. Paul

• Percentage of burglar alarms

in the workplace: 44%

• Percentage of card access/

keypads in the workplace: 50%


There was a day, not too long ago, when Chicagoans awoke to news that construction crews at Meigs Field – Chicago’s downtown airport – had carved giant Xs across the runways, suddenly and unofficially shutting down the airport at the mayor’s request. The reason?

Security. Mayor Richard M. Daley felt that having aircraft take-offs and landings near downtown skyscrapers posed too great a security risk.

“The need for security has been strong for at least the last decade in the Chicagoland area, and certainly post 9/11,” says Tony Calderone, president of Illinois Alarm Service Inc. in Forest Park, Ill., and president of the Illinois Electronic Security Association.

In fact, Chicago has taken a lead in helping its corporate residents become readier for many possible threats, perhaps contributing to the fact that Chicago ranks as the No. 3 metropolitan area with access controls (card access systems and/or keypads) in its residents’ workplaces, cited by 45 percent of workers.

“The city itself as a government entity has a played a role in heightened awareness. I do know that the city of Chicago, i.e. Mayor Daley, has worked extremely hard with corporate America, particularity within the corporate confines of the city, to secure buildings,” Calderone says.

For example, last November, Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications officially opened a new Operations Center, “the city’s central command post to manage and coordinate major events and emergency response,” explains a city-issued press release.

Calderone, who has personally visited the center, describes it as state of the art. “They have CAD drawings of all the high-rise buildings,” and responders can view these buildings from more than 2,000 cameras located throughout the city.

In broader terms, this department is also responsible for working with Chicago’s businesses to tighten security overall. One of the responsibilities of the Office of Emergency Management is risk assessment to determine the probability and after-effects of a terrorist attack, including examining “not only shortcomings in emergency plans and communication mechanisms, but also in construction and security systems.”

Jerry Robinson, president of ABC Security Corp. in suburban Wheeling, Ill., is an established systems integrator and access control dealer in the Chicago metropolitan area.

“Most of the buildings downtown and in tech corridors like Interstate 80 have access control, by and large,” Robinson notes.

He stressed that many large corporations have security standards that they impose on all of their geographically dispersed facilities, regardless of local issues or crime rates.

Chicago is home to many well-known corporations including Abbott Laboratories, Baxter Int’l, The Allstate Corp., Boeing Corp., Sears Roebuck and Co., United Airlines, Walgreen Co., Motorola Inc., Bank One Corp., Sara Lee Corp., and McDonald’s Corp.

Chicago, Illinois

• Population rank: 3

• Property crime rate:

not available

• Percentage of

white-collar workers: 60.5%

• Percentage of burglar

alarms in the workplace: 42%

• Percentage of card access/

keypads in the workplace: 45%

Study Details

To conduct the SDM Consumer Study: Workplace & Home Security, SDM – through its Market Research Division – mailed surveys to 20,000 U.S. households. The household panel was selected to conform to the latest United States Census data for the nine geographical divisions; within each division by market size, age of head of household, annual household income, and household size. By the cut-off date, there were 13,997 usable returns, resulting in a 70 percent response rate.

Definition of property crime: the offenses of burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson, as defined by the United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports. A word about the city comparisons: SDM’s city areas are drawn by Nielsen Designated Market Areas. With this methodology, the city area is defined by the area a television signal reaches.