- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2001

Corporate America is asking a lot of security companies.

Following the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes on New York and Washington, employers are buying products from satellite phones to bulletproof glass not only to make offices safer, but also to calm nervous workers.

"A lot of people are scared. A lot of people are uncertain what to do," said Gregory Sanders, chairman of the crime and loss prevention council of the American Society for Industrial Security in Alexandria.

Companies spent an estimated $22 billion on security in 1999, the most recent year for which statistics are available, said Robert McCrie, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

Spending on office security is likely to increase immediately and the attacks "will make it a lot easier for security directors to get heard by senior management. Management is trying to do all it can to make employees feel safer," Mr. McCrie said.

Many companies are turning to consultants, which tell companies whether their security measures are adequate. Vance International, a security consultant in Oakton, typically consults once a day. Now it consults 10 times a day.

"It's gone through the roof," Vance spokesman Joseph Ricci said.

Manufacturers of high-tech gizmos also are responding to a wave of inquiries. Devices that control access to buildings and provide surveillance are among the first technology tools companies are asking about.

Dedicated Micros Inc., in Chantilly, received frantic calls from potential customers immediately after the terrorist strikes. The company makes technology that digitizes video images from surveillance cameras for storage on high-capacity computer disks.

One customer ordered 15 units.

Corporate America also may turn to biometrics, an emerging technology that measures a person's physical characteristics, from fingerprints to the eye's iris, to restrict access by verifying identification. Biometric companies will have combined revenue of an estimated $524 million this year, according to the International Biometric Group, a New York industry group promoting biometric devices.

"The biometrics industry was poised to take off and become more widespread even before last week. Since then, there has been more interest and there have been more inquiries," said Raj Nanavati, a partner at the International Biometric Group.

It had projected industry revenue would grow to $1.9 billion by 2005. Now it plans to revise that estimate because it expects sales to increase.

Evive Corp., in Rockville, was founded earlier this year and, coincidentally, completed development Sept. 19 of a biometric device that measures physical characteristics to identify employees trying to gain access to offices.

"The past two weeks have been a flurry of activity," Evive Chief Executive Jonathan Eisner said.

Biometric firm EyeTicket Corp., in McLean, has pilot projects to test its iris recognition device at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport in North Carolina. Another test begins next month at Heathrow Airport in London. Inquiries from other airlines and airports have increased, and ongoing talks with the Federal Aviation Administration on potential projects "have accelerated," said EyeTicket Chief Executive Officer Stewart Mann.

EyeTicket's device is expected to improve security because it verifies the identity of airline passengers who agree to have digital images of their irises stored in the company's database.

Communications companies also report higher demand.

Iridium Satellite LLC, the Leesburg, Va., company that bought a network of 66 satellites out of bankruptcy last year, was negotiating to provide phone service to the United Nations when terrorists attacked. Damage to five Verizon Communications Inc. offices cut off phone service in lower Manhattan. Heavy telecommunications traffic elsewhere made other connections difficult. At least 14 Manhattan cellular equipment sites were destroyed in the attacks, adding demand to existing cell towers and slowing down a clogged wireless network.

After the strike, the United Nations took possession of enough Iridium Satellite phones to keep its senior staff connected.

Iridium, which is having new phones made, has marketed service to companies operating in remote locations, like shipping firms. Now financial institutions are interested, even though they typically do business in urban areas, because they want the phones in case of emergency, Iridium Executive Vice President Wayne "D" D'Ambrosio said.

"We are seeing wider acceptance by more people," Mr. D'Ambrosio said.

Iridium competitor Globalstar Telecommunicatons Inc., in New York, has reported a fourfold increase in sales since the attacks.

High-tech companies aren't the only firms fielding calls.

CompuDyne Corp., in Hanover, Md., makes bullet-resistant glass and doors. Banks and embassies are its typical customers. Companies with drive-through services, like drugstores, are making inquiries, too.

"There is heightened interest in the product," CompuDyne Chief Financial Officer Geoffrey Feidelberg said.

Its stock has responded. CompuDyne closed yesterday on Nasdaq at $16.20, up 96 percent from its close of $8.25 a share on Sept. 10, a day before the attacks.

Corporate America long overlooked investment in workplace security, Mr. Ricci said, but that may change now.

"Security tends to be looked at as a cost item that doesn't add value," he said. "Incidents like [the terrorist strikes] will make people rethink that."

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