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Exhibit Space Screams IP

Whenever I attend giant trade shows like the recent ISC West in Las Vegas, people invariably ask me, “What have you seen on the floor that is hot?” This is an especially common question for those folks chained to an exhibition booth or stuck in ...

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Whenever I attend giant trade shows like the recent ISC West in Las Vegas, people invariably ask me, “What have you seen on the floor that is hot?” This is an especially common question for those folks chained to an exhibition booth or stuck in meetings and seminars most of the event. Like a cocooned victim in the “Alien” movies who, doomed to serve as a spawning host, begs, “Please, kill me,” their eyes plead for liberation.

What these poor souls don’t realize is — just as Sigourney Weaver’s character (Ripley) is overwhelmed by all those pesky, needle-toothed, acid-blooded space critters (you know, the sales reps you don’t do business with) — during these mega-events I am typically tied up with appointments and other commitments myself. Plus more things are stuffed into ISC’s few days than winter-fortified girth into attendees’ trousers, and the crowds were so thick I kept waiting for the Times Square Ball to drop.

Of course, it is great news ISC was so well attended. It signifies the healthy state of the industry in the face of an ailing economy. Exhibitors (and, naturally, show organizer Reed Exhibitions) were generally ecstatic about the turnout and attendees were mostly enthusiastic about the wares they saw on display.

The leading trend was the ongoing transformation from electronics/hardware to IP/IT and software, and with it greater flexibility, scalability and integration. In the past there have been some fringe companies and a smattering of network-centric products and systems, but this year it predominated. Megapixel cameras, massive digital storage, intuitive graphical user interfaces so sophisticated they’re simple, and refinements/advances in analytics algorithms were among the noteworthy technologies.

In a nod to the social networking phenomenon, the biggest buzzword was connected. Connected to networks, connected to workstations, connected to the Internet, connected to cell phones, connected to PDAs, connected to other security systems, connected to management systems, connected to databases, connected to account information, connected to analytical tools and connected to responding agencies. Without a doubt, “connected” has become the connective tissue of manufacturers’ new offerings.

This represents an exciting development for us techno-geeks and futurists, but it could be somewhat misleading for those new to the industry. While the possibilities and opportunities are enormous and thrilling, the fact is that outside the digital nirvana of the convention hall, 80 percent or more of the industry remains analog — in most cases happily so.

This industry has often been criticized, particularly by the IT community, of being late adopters and slow to change. There’s a good reason for that. Providing products and services depended on by people for their safety, security and — in some cases lives — instills the provider not only with a duty of commerce but a moral obligation to be exceedingly cautious and hyper-vigilant about the viability and reliability of those solutions.

Combine that with the fact that — although in a post-9/11 environment where people are more attuned to vulnerabilities and technologically sophisticated, and where systems are being exploited as management tools like never before — to a large extent, security-related expenditures remain a grudge buy. That’s why it is going to take the natural obsolescence of existing systems, further product/technology enhancements, significant price drops, and extensive, consistent in-the-field performance before those who toil in the real security world can sport glasses as rose-colored as those adorned by the IP-focused evangelists so prevalent on today’s tradeshow circuit.

During ISC, I asked those thought leaders to identify the hottest IP security market. They replied, “New construction” — you know, the sector zapped by the subprime lender crisis. I then asked when the threshold of more than 50 percent of our industry’s new product/system sales would be IP-based. They all paused, cautiously looked around, asked not to be quoted and whispered, “Probably not before 2015.”

Article Topics
Video Surveillance · Algorithms · Between Us Pros · IP-based · IT Management · Smart Phones · All Topics

About the Author
Scott Goldfine
Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration, directing all editorial aspects of the magazine brand in print, electronically, online and in person. The voluminous, innovative and award-winning body of work he has distinguished himself with since joining the publication in 1998 includes groundbreaking research, landmark features, leadership roundtables, high profile case studies, and many industry exclusives. Well versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is a nationally known figure in demand as an industry presenter and subject matter expert to mainstream media. He is responsible for developing many unique products and programs, including the SSI Industry Hall of Fame, Control Panel (industry’s first E-mail newsletter), Police Dispatch Quality (PDQ), Marketing Marvel, Installers of the Year, Integrated Installation of the Year, Security Industry Census, Systems Integration Study, Installation Business Report, Operations & Opportunities Report, Commercial End-User Study and Security’s Fantastic Fleets. Recognized for his relationship building, integrity and lead-by-example ethic, Goldfine is a solutions-oriented team player who advises and collaborates with industry dealer/integrator, consultant, distributor, central station and manufacturer icons, luminaries and executive business leaders on a daily basis. He is also actively involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), PSA-Tec, SAMMY Awards, International Security Conference and Exhibition (ISC), Electronic Security Technology Summit (ESTS), Mission 500, Electronic Security Expo (ESX), ASIS Int’l, Honeywell CONNECT and other supplier conventions. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee and PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council. A certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast, Goldfine graduated with honors from Cal State, Northridge with a management degree in Radio-Television-Film. His professional media endeavors have encompassed magazines, Internet, radio, TV, film, records, teletext and books. Goldfine resides in the Charlotte, N.C., area with his wife, son and three cats.
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Algorithms, Between Us Pros, IP-based, IT Management, Smart Phones

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