A group of Canadian associations is joining forces to create a national index of Canadian technology companies working in the advanced security sector.
The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) has pulled together the Canadian Alarm and Security Association (CANASA) and the Canadian Association of Information Technology Professionals (CIPS) to create a database of Canadian security companies within the next year. The index will deal exclusively with the application of information technologies in the security industry, or advanced security.
Montreal-based Huguette Guilhaumon, managing director CATA Alliance Quebec, said the purpose of the database is to fill a void in the industry, and to create knowledge management of the security resources available in the country. CATA Alliance wants to find out if there is a cluster of advanced security companies in Canada, and how those companies are faring within the IT sector.
“We didn’t know how many companies were out there, if they were healthy, where they sold their technology, or even how many people were working at each company,” she said. “It is important that all the resources in security are known.”
As needs and requirements for security from both private companies and from government agencies start to amplify, especially after the terrorist attacks in the United States, security is starting to become a priority for all companies, Guilhaumon explains.
“Security is not considered an expense anymore and it’s not even a competitive advantage, it has now become – in the last two years – a necessity to do business,” she said. “Most importantly, you will not have any credibility to your clients if you don’t take security measures.”
For Robert Garigue, vice-president and chief information security officer with BMO financial group in Toronto, having a repository of companies and services in the advanced security industry is a valuable resource.
“I think that when I look at end-to-end (E2E) business today, a lot of it has to do with building in-trust networks and building in-trust mechanisms,” he said, “so, where do you go to find out who’s who?”
Generally, many companies do searches on the Internet and review literature to find out what technology or services are being offered, Garigue said.
Banks, specifically BMO, has been around for a long time and has a firm understanding of its supply chains, Garigue said. “What happens in Canada is, most people – especially medium-sized and small businesses (SMBs) – do not know where to go, and they might not have the history that a bank does.”
This type of database gives Canadians a place to look and a starting point, he added.
“It’s not just for the people that are already there but it’s for all the organizations, private or governmental organizations, that are looking for somebody. Now they can find a community that’s been enumerated,” he said.
The database also provides an overview of Canadian-based security companies. Garigue says that many Internet searches only turn out American-based companies, so having Canadian information is an added bonus.
So the database will also provide Canadians with a useful overview of the Canadian security industry.
“It’s nice to have a Canadian footprint because in many cases, globalization requires other countries who want to do business in Canada, so where in Canada do you go to if you don’t have a local presence? This is a good offering for Canadian’s in world markets,” he said. “It’s a good initiative all around.”
The database will focus around 14 categories including biometrics, authentication, encryption, imaging technologies, smart cards and wireless securities, and will be based on security solutions that use information and communications technology to meet a range of security applications and customer needs. The project will also involve profiling each security company in an effort to understand the different types of products being offered.
Guilhaumon said a report of the findings in the database will be available in September, but CATA Alliance is still working out the details to how or if the actual database will be made available. There has been some discussion about posting the information on a Web site providing access to both the database and the industry profiles, but no firm decisions have been made regarding fees.
Companies must be based in Canada and must add value to the industry, Guilhaumon said. In other words, companies who are only in the business of importing, exporting, or distributing products will not be included in the database.
CANASA, which Guilhaumon said is more involved with electronic security and surveillance and CIPS, which has ties with the IT security market, together with the CATA Alliance which is compiling the information, “can more or less draw a good picture of the industry,” she said.
This industry, and knowledge of the players within the security sector, “will create a competitive advantage for Canadian companies,” Guilhaumon said.