Security infrastructure spending in Latin America creates opportunity

Latin American spending on security infrastructure in borders, ports, airports and prisons has increased in recent years as countries replace outdated equipment, a security expert told Latin Business Daily.

The market for those products has expanded so that it may provide $500 million in sales over five years, Eduardo Parodi, Smiths Detection’s vice president of sales and business development for Latin America and the Caribbean, said in a telephone interview Friday.

"There is growth in the region because many governments are modernizing their overall insfrastructure. For example, on ports they are keen on increasing revenue” through actions that can minimize smuggling, Parodi said.

However, considering the large spending that these projects demand -- some in excess of $100 million -- slowing revenue to the country´s economies can affect decisions that often involve top government officials.

Smiths Detection equipment is used worldwide to detect potential explosives or liquids inside suitcases or hidden in people´s clothing. In ports, Smiths Detection equipment can identify the actual elements in containers, according to Parodi, and equipment used in prisons can even detect objects under the skin.

“Every major airport does have our service," he said, listing terminals in Bogota, Buenos Aires, Lima, Panama, Santiago and Sao Paulo among those using Smiths Detection. The latest acquisition was for Mexico's Cancun airport, he said.

As for prisons, Smiths supplies most of the detection equipment in the Mexican federal prison system, which over the course of three years has invested large amounts of money to build new capacity. “We supply all the x-ray for screening of persons and material” like food, he said. Visitors to prisons often try to smuggle narcotics and mobile telephones or chips in very imaginative ways, he said.

Smiths Detection recently won a $5.4 million contract to supply the Rio de Janeiro state prison with a system named B-SCAN that can detect objects concealed on the body with minimal invasion. It makes use of x-rays in low doses that are safe because radiation is minimal, Parodi added.

Other work by the company has included the recent deployment in Nicaragua ports and borders of equipment that does work similar to what the U.S. government does on the Mexican border. El Salvador has also seen similar equipment installed on its borders, and Smiths Detection equipment also protects border crossings in Chile.

As for ports, after a recent installation in the Cayman Islands, Barbados is the next location scheduled to receive Smiths Detection security equipment, he said. 

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