The view from the Continent

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

This year’s IFSEC has come and gone, and from the size of the crowds at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Center and the number of exhibitors (not to mention the length of the queues to get coffee or a snack), the security industry in Europe seems to be faring pretty well. While I sensed a certain amount of concern about the possibility of an economic slowdown on the horizon, mainly among the Brits I spoke to, the general mood seemed to be extremely upbeat. As one of the exhibitors told me, “you can really smell the money here this year.”

As usual, at a show of this scope, there’s so much going on that it’s hard to take it all in. In addition to the more than 800 exhibitors, this year’s IFSEC also featured a new conference program that covered topics ranging from transport, retail and venue security to counter-terrorism and human rights.

I unfortunately didn’t have a chance to sit in on any of the sessions, but they looked to be well attended. My neighbor at the hotel, the head of a security consultancy in Australia, told me he had flown all the way over specifically for the conference portion of the show.

The international aspect of the show seemed to be more on display this year than last. I certainly heard a lot more languages in the aisles, especially French and German, this year, and “American” as well, which many Brits never tire of explaining is its own tongue separate from, and somewhat less cultivated than, their own.

The exhibitor profile reflected the international element as well, with companies truly from around the world, and designated French, Italian, Chinese and Korean pavilions, among others.

As usual, there was a lot of news at IFSEC this year. One of the biggest announcements came from industry heavyweights Axis, Bosch and Sony about plans to set up an open forum to develop a global standard on communication among network video products like cameras, encoders and video management systems. While thin on specifics, all three companies stressed that the group will be open to any interested parties. The companies said more details on the forum would be announced at Security Essen in Germany, the next major European show, this fall.

There was lots more happening in Birmingham, and details on other newsworthy events can be found in the July/August issue of Security Systems News Europe (online at www.securitysystemsnewseurope.com).

One other item worth a mention here is the location of next year’s show. For anyone who has endured the odyssey from the exhibition hall train station to the actual exhibition halls, sources tell me that next year’s show will move to halls closer to the station, which would be a welcome development.

Steven Sachoff is the editor of Security Systems News Europe and can be reached at ssachoff@securitysystemsnewseurope.com. He is based in Prague, Czech Republic.