According to Crain's Cleveland Business, research from the National Burglar Fire Alarm Association shows that 48 percent of all electronic security installations in 2005 were for commercial customers, 22 percent were for large industrial customers and 30 percent were for residential customers. Meanwhile, the electronic security industry's revenues jumped from $13.1 billion in 1996 to $23.8 billion in 2005.

The types of products produced by the industry include digital video recorders, biometric access technologies, motion detectors, heat sensors, medical alarms and Internet monitoring devices. Due to their cost-effectiveness, electronic security devices are especially attractive to small businesses with a limited budget.

"It is a lot more cost-effective to have an operator monitoring your business (through virtual tours) from a central station than it is to pay a person to sit there all day in your business and monitor the surveillance cameras," said one industry insider.   EC