The ASIS International Annual Seminar and Exhibits was held in Las vegas during September.One of the biggest security conventions in the world ,its combination with a city like Las Vegas makes it quite and experience .Hi Tech Security Systems'Consulting Editor Dr Craig Donald was there,and in this article he reports back on his impressions
Las Vegas is an adult Disneyland where life size pirate ships do battle on a hotel set, where hotels transport you away with representations of Paris, Venice and New York, and where some of the foremost names in the casino and entertainment industry do battle in the lights of the night. With highly reasonable hotel rates, food at a discount and the occasional drinks on the house, people relax in the sensations of having a good time and the value for money. Then they go and risk all on the roll of a wheel or dice, or a turn of the cards. People flock to Las Vegas and the flow never seems to stop. Sitting in the bar overlooking the strip at the top of the Stratosphere, one of the tallest structures in the US and taller than the Seattle Space Needle, we counted four to five planes in the sky at any one time until late in the evening.
This ASIS annual event does justice to one of the biggest security membership organisations internationally. Professionally organised, registration is designed to handle the large amounts of people attending. With computerised self registration on notebooks for those just attending the exhibition, some familiarity with technology, it is obviously an expectation. A well organised press room has industry leaders from companies with new technology personally holding press briefings. A large book store provides people with access to latest ASIS publications and interest group leaders are available for discussions and to get to know. With final attendance 17 628 attendees and over 1700 exhibiting booths, the event is huge but feels manageable.
The full spectrum
The show covers the full range of security and includes familiar major multinational companies like Ultrak, Siemens and Sensormatic, large multifaceted US organisations, and a host of smaller companies. The CIA also had a stand along with some of the other US Government agencies. While games and gimmicks are present in true American style, all the stands get attention from the biggest down to the smallest - it was interesting to see just how willing the attendees were to looking and talking to exhibitors.
Reference checking of potential employees
One of the overwhelming aspects was how much information Americans have at their disposal and how much of an industry it is making it accessible. Companies providing books and services on how to access just about anything were widespread. Probably the most common exhibitors were those dealing with reference checking of potential employees. US companies obviously place a strong emphasis on ensuring that applicants have no transgressions behind their name on any of several systems - for us it is likely to create a strong privacy debate.
While screening seems to play a bigger part than selection, training is surprisingly pushed within some of the larger multifaceted industries as part of their competitive advantage and highlighted in their marking material. It seems as if training is emerging as part of the added value within the broad security management consulting service.
Seminars, training and networking
One of the outstanding aspects of the ASIS Annual Seminar and Exhibits is the focus on seminars. Aimed at professional development and giving insight into a range of issues, 143 educational sessions are provided. Conference papers cover areas such as technical trends, system design and implementation, management of security functions, personal career development, fraud and management of investigations, human resource issues, and new security issues and industry developments.
Many in this spectrum of topics provide a real learning and development opportunity and are well attended. A session with Charlie Pierce, a well known US based CCTV consultant talking on digital CCTV, had people standing on the sides and sitting on the floor.
Networking features strongly on the whole event agenda. Besides the ASIS interest group committees having tables at the event, a range of special functions as diverse as the former state law enforcement get-together, the FBI/NA Graduate breakfast, and the Christians in Security breakfast. In addition, the foundation events of the Annual Charity Golf Tournament and the ASIS foundation dinner attract major interest. Then there are the meetings in the hotels over breakfast, dinner and drinks which can go on late into the night.
The ASIS Annual Seminar and Exhibits is a learning event where one can catch up with a wide range of developments in the industry, a chance to enhance professional development, an opportunity to network and meet people, and as much as anything, a social experience. The social experience is facilitated by the city locations and the chance to sit down and do business with others and catch up with old colleagues. Next year it is in Orlando, Florida and ASIS hope to have the same if not more people attend due to its location.
For details, contact Craig Donald on tel: (011) 787 7811 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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