July 2009 News & Events

Hi-Tech Security Solutions reports back from IFSEC 2009, held in May 2009 at the NEC in Birmingham, UK.

This year’s IFSEC exhibition and conference in the UK pulled in over 25 000 visitors, among them a contingent from South Africa, including Hi-Tech Security Solutions. The show was opened by Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, president of the UK Security Institute and the UK Government’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation.

James Blue, director of Fire & Security at UBM Live, organisers of IFSEC, said: “In today’s economic climate, it was important for us not to rest on our laurels when it came to organising IFSEC 2009. We took the opportunity to re-invigorate the security industry, putting the feel-good factor back into both our exhibitors and visitors.

“We adapted the content at the show, introducing new initiatives and features, to address the most pressing issues in the security market. Furthermore, we expanded the international focus of the show (31% of the total attendance was international) through features such as 'Meet the buyers' event. Opened by Prince Michael of Kent, we welcomed a delegation of international security buyers to IFSEC and gave unprecedented trade opportunities to our UK exhibitors.”

IFSEC was once again a showcase for some of the world’s leading companies including: ASSA Abloy, Axis Communication, Bosch, Cisco, Dallmeier, Dedicated Micros, Genie, Gunnebo, HID, Hikvision, IndigoVision, JVC, LG Electronics, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Paxton Access, Risco, Samsung Techwin, Samsung Opto-Electronics U.K., Sanyo, Satel, Sony, Tyco, Videor and Xtralis.

The recession did have an impact, however, with many of the stands smaller than usual. Noticeable in its absence was Norbain, usually easily spotted among the smaller stands. The good news is the company is expected back next year.

The concurrent IFSEC Conference ran over three days with each day dedicated to a specific area of security: Day one looked at Global, National and Local Protection, day two concentrated on Corporate Security Management and day three explored Technological Innovations in Practice. In total, 27 expert speakers presented seminars over the three days.

IFSEC 2009 also introduced a new free-of-charge series of educational seminars focusing on managing security in an economic downturn. 'Business Seminars for Security Installers' consisted of a series of presentations from industry-leading names.

The team from Hi-Tech Security Solutions had an exhausting time traversing the five halls of the exhibition, meeting local and international companies. While the show did seem somewhat smaller, there was no lack of enthusiasm and no lack of visitors. One positive issue to come from attending IFSEC UK was the knowledge that South Africa’s security industry is in no way behind the rest of the world. In fact, due to the rampant criminality in the country, in some areas of private security we are leading the pack.

Before looking at international news from IFSEC, we also asked some of the local attendees for their opinions of the event.

Erich Glatz from GSC was very impressed at the show. He says he has attended the show for many years and will be there again next year. He also praises the past IFSEC South Africa Securex exhibitions.

Although he notes that attendance seemed to be lower than last year, as confirmed by GSC’s customers. He says they also indicated the quality of visitors was very good. “I believe that an economic downturn has positives in that some 'weeding' takes place, ie, back yard operators who are there for a quick buck can not afford to attend and some fall by the wayside. Good news for those who have a long-term interest.

Tom Bramwell-Jones from Inhep Electronics Holdings reports that overall it was another well organised event. “However it was clear that the numbers of exhibitors were definitely down on previous years (some people saying by as much as 30%). IFSEC regulars were saying that the numbers of visitors to the show were also noticeably down on last year.

“As manufacturers and distributors of alarm panels, we found the really poor showing of alarm manufacturers at the show interesting, with some big names like Norbain staying away this year.”

He adds Inhep sends a small team to IFSEC UK every year as visitors. “We have a number of international customers and suppliers who we normally spend time with at IFSEC; it is a great opportunity to meet up with a number of international partners from many parts of the world in one location. Our product managers also use IFSEC to source potential additions to our product line.”

Rosemary Cowan from the South African Institute of Security (SAIS) represented the institute at the show and says it was busy and well worth the trip. She says the registration process was very organised (something the local organisers can take note of) and there were plenty of rest areas for weary travellers. She does note, as have others that the layout was confusing, making it difficult to find specific stands even with a floor plan.

Nemtek’s Ray Wilsenach has definite views on IFSEC UK: “It is the only place to exhibit if you are serious about exporting.”

He compliments the professionalism of the exhibitors and says the company has already booked for next year. He does, however, think it would be good to see other South African exhibitors there if their products meet International standard, noting “price is very much against any SA company from participating.”

Overall, IFSEC UK 2009 was well worth attending. Not only is it a showcase for many companies to launch new products and show off innovations, it also provides attendees with the opportunity to gains a broader overview of the security market as a whole. New trends in focus this year included the move to hi-def amongst all the camera vendors as well as the broad adoption of H.264. Of course, more than one vendor managed to get in a snipe at certain competitors promoting H.264 compliance while not really meeting the required standards. Those readers attending this year’s Retail Risk conference will have seen the presentation dealing with HD and understand the impact it can make on the digital video market. The Retail Risk conference is also reviewed in this issue.

And then there was this one major operator in multiple segments of the market that is promoting its brand new range of goodies that has all the correct and trendy labels attached, but has somehow forgotten to make the new range compatible with the old. No worries though, the economy is booming so customers will be more than happy to rip and replace everything... .

The move to IP was also still in vogue, although there are a few more operators touting their hybrid prêt-à-porter fashions. They seem to have figured out that while customers with an ounce of sense will not be splashing out on analog products, they will not be dumping their existing infrastructure just yet.

One final trend worth mentioning, which is so obvious it is not worth mentioning, is integration. Companies focused on standalone solutions that do not play well with others, even competitors are going to be in trouble in the near future. Customers, especially informed, enterprise-level ones, are no longer interested in a product, but want solutions that cover multiple areas and products. Even home security is starting to turn that way, a trend you can see in the first issue of Home Security.

Let us hope the first official IFSEC show in South Africa is as interesting and successful. We will be reviewing it in the next issue.

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