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Editor's Blog and Industry Comments

Reflecting the changing image of security at IFSEC

20 May, 2008
With pre-ABC audit attendance figures of almost 31000, the four-day IFSEC exhibition had no shortage of visitors from across the industry customer base and from around the world.
Birmingham may not be quite as glitzy as Las Vegas and ambling across the acres of car parks around the NEC venue searching for zone E2 might not hold the same allure as a post-exhibition stroll along "The Strip" but this didn't stop throngs of visitors arriving from all points on the globe to visit Europe's largest security exhibition, IFSEC last week.

Long recognised as being the main event on the security exhibition calendar in Europe, IFSEC is continuing to enjoy immense popularity despite some worries in the industry that there may be a downturn in the market. On the contrary, the market is very optimistic and the supplier base is progressing in terms of technological development that has produced noticeable changes in the technologies on offer since last year's event.

Computer technology has swept through the security industry as the main agent of change and this has brought together many areas that had previously been seen as separate. Integration of access control, surveillance and alarm systems and the introduction of analytical techniques enabled through IP communications has brought about a step change in what companies are now offering since the days of analogue cameras and hard-wired access control systems.

This integration is partially responsible for another noticeable change in the way that companies are presenting their offerings with many more examples this year of companies co-hosting a stand with their business partners. Milestone Systems have always been strong on the technology partnership approach and presented their IP video management technology along with partners such as Cernium and Smart CCTV demonstrating how a cooperative approach to the market can deliver significantly more value to the end user.

The HID stand was awash with partners operating together to demonstrate how smart cards can be used in a variety of ways using a combination of standard technology, open systems, imagination and an alliance based business model. In a similar spirit, UK Biometrics International demonstrated their imminent thrust into large scale biometric fingerprint authentication deployments in consumer applications by co-presenting their technology with business partners Lumidigm, Keico and Alphatronics. Axis Communications and Texas Instruments were two more big players who weren't shy about introducing their technology partners.

Norbain have come to be well known for their high profile stand design, occupying the biggest stand by far at the exhibition, surrounding it with young ladies in lycra jumpsuits handing out carrier bags and drawing your attention to the speed boat on offer in the prize draw. With all this distraction, you could be forgiven for not actually noticing what the company offers. However, if you make it past the cordon of models armed with badge readers, there would be no chance of avoiding a sales briefing from one of the vast army of suits on the stand. There was clearly a three line whip placed on the Norbain sales force to attend the stand so customer attention was always on hand which is more than could be said for some stands where the single representative with in-depth product knowledge was constantly swamped and unreachable throughout the exhibition.

If there was an award for the strangest stand design though, it would have to go to CSL Dualcom who decorated their stand with games consoles and models in grand prix flag design shorts. Quite what any of that had to do with alarm signalling is anyone's guess, perhaps they just mixed up their target market and expected a mass of male teenage gamers to arrive at any moment.
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