Show of Strength for Security Industry at ESX Baltimore

If anyone was scared off by Baltimore’s recent policing problems you would scarcely know it as attendees and vendors celebrate another ESX success.

BALTIMORE – While organizers expressed concern about the impact of recent civil unrest on enthusiasm and attendance for this year’s Electronic Security Expo (ESX) in Baltimore, the event held June 22-26 went very smoothly and was a success according to industry observers. This also despite several other industry events taking place the same week that pulled attendees elsewhere, including the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) show in Chicago where critical security industry voting took place regarding Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) powers.

Baltimore, embroiled in high profile police and racial conflict for the past few months and which had also served as the host site for one of the previous eight ESX shows, actually proved quite welcoming and hospitable. The only hints of tension arrived in the form of thunderclouds as an intense storm blew through the area Tuesday evening. And the only hitches evident during the event were a last-minute substitution of Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Anthony Batts as a featured speaker for Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and extremely light floor traffic on the second and final expo day (Friday).

Even those two issues were offset by Davis’ candid speech and a busy opening day on the show floor and well attended educational and networking sessions. “Our city was not ready for civil unrest, which we learned is much different from crowd control,” Davis told several hundred attendees during the Networking & Public Safety Luncheon, of which Security Sales & Integration (SSI) served as the media sponsor. He added that he is a big fan of security technology and finding ways for the department to increase its use, and is eager for the deployment of body-worn cameras. Davis urged law enforcement and the security industry to partner for public safety by leveraging the power of alarms, video and facial recognition.

Check out our slideshow of the 2015 Electronic Security Expo!

Several awards were presented during the luncheon, including SSI Editor-in-Chief/Associate Publisher’s presenting of the Police Dispatch Quality (PDQ) Award along with co-organizers Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) and False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA) to Habitec Security. SIAC Executive Director Stan Martin also handed out the William N. Moody Award to retiring Honeywell Security Group President Ron Rothman, who then shocked what became an emotional Martin by surprising him with his own Moody Award. Former Electronic Security Industry (ESA) President John Knox was presented with this year’s Morris F. Weinstock Award. Also during ESX, Goldfine revealed COPS Monitoring as winner of the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) Five Diamond Marketing Marvel Award and SSI presented its inaugural Supplier Stellar Service Awards to some two dozen vendors. And during a reception June 24, ESA awarded Hikvision a special plaque in honor of being named an Executive Strategic Partner of the Electronic Security Association. The program was established in 2008 to provide funding and support for ESA programs that promote and augment the security industry. The reception also provided attendees the chance to learn more about ESA’s annual philanthropy project, ESA Gives Back, and their chosen charity for 2015, The Green Beret Foundation. 

Speaking of SIAC, the group held one of a multitude of association meetings during the conference to cover updates and discuss ongoing strategies and challenges in the quest to ensure strong relationships between the alarm industry and law enforcement. Those assembled identified Davis and Chino (Calif.) and Louisville as response hotspots presently needing alarm industry attention to stave off nonresponse to alarm systems, with the situation also heating up in Louisiana. Martin stressed the importance of the industry to alert SIAC immediately upon noticing any response issues so the group can nip it in the bud early. Among other discussion points, it was revealed that the industry can expect to see a new, more specific definition for Enhanced Call Verification (ECV) that will go beyond two calls and also incorporate things like video. SIAC also works closely with the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation (AIREF), which also met to cover very preliminary results of a new academically based research project addressing residential burglary victimization. The final results are expected in 2016. 

One of the hot-button issues heading into ESX, as it was a year prior, is the glut of scammers targeting the alarm industry’s residential customers and prospects. And just as it had during the 2014 ESX show, ADT assumed a leadership position by holding a news conference to emphasize that the problem is not going away, has in fact almost doubled in the number of reported incidents, and the imperative for the industry to hold its ground and help educate consumers. In addition to reps from ADT, ESA, CSAA and the Better Business Bureau, the conference included an ex-Baltimore police officer and a local resident who had both approached by scam artists pitching them fraudulent alarm system sales tactics. “Last year, ADT launched several progressive tactics to combat competitor fraud, including a reward program,” said ADT General Counsel David Bleisch. “By fine-tuning the program this year we can now offer the reward to a wider audience to help stop the fraud plaguing our industry.”

The emotional highlight of ESX came during the keynote presentation from retired Major General James “Greg” Champion, who spoke on leadership but choked up when talking about a foundation he is involved in called the Next Ridgeline that helps Green Berets transition to civilian life. Those emotions were further stoked when De Marco’s daughter Lauren, a professional singer, serenaded Champion on stage with the “Ballad of the Green Berets.” Champion was introduced by former ESA President Charles “Dom” D’Ascoli, who pledged to the foundation (which also had a booth in the exhibit hall featuring uniformed Green Berets) and urged others to join suit. On the topic of leadership, Champion recommended: having a vision and lead change; be your formation’s moral and ethical compass; learn, think, adapt; and balance risk and opportunity to retain the initiative. 

As mentioned, the first of the two-day-long expo portion of ESX was lively and considerably busier than what was seen in the earlier days of this eight-year-old event. Among the largest and most visited among the 100+ booths were well established leaders Napco, Rapid Response Monitoring, DMP, Honeywell (all Stellar Service Award winners) and Interlogix. Some of the newcomers drawing attention included Qolsys, Nest, BeOn, iControl Networks, Essence, Ameresco Solar and Quantum. All seemed pleased with the event because while sometimes the crowd might appear thin to the casual observer, first and foremost ESX is a networking event that pulls together the largest group of alarm industry leaders and company executives found anywhere. Quality over quantity can be a good thing.

The event’s co-owners – ESA and CSAA – along with first-time ESX producers Tradeshow Logic and ESX Chairman George De Marco are to be applauded for their efforts and results in what has become the alarm industry’s second most important convention (following ISC West). Next year, for the first time in its history, ESX will set up shop in Ft. Worth, Texas, June 8-11.

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About the Author

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Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration. Well-versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is nationally recognized as an industry expert and speaker. Goldfine is 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), ASIS Int'l and more. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the SIA Marketing Committee, CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee, PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Robolliance. He is a certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast. Goldfine joined Security Sales & Integration in 1998.

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