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Security exhibition industry reeling from coronavirus impact

Security exhibition industry reeling from coronavirus impact
By now people probably already know that both IFSEC International and ISC West, two of the major security-related events, have been postponed due to coronavirus concerns. These, plus other shows that have been either delayed or outright cancelled, demonstrate the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the global security exhibition business.
 
First let’s recap what has happened up to this point, with regard to events and exhibitions that are directly or indirectly relevant to us. Among the shows that have already been held are: Intersec and CES, both held in January, and Integrated Systems Europe, held in early February. At that time, the coronavirus had just been an afterthought, especially in Western countries which for the most part didn’t take it that seriously.
 
Things took a drastic turn at the end of January when things got so out of control in China that the city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus allegedly originated, announced a shutdown. The severity of the situation soon got worldwide attention, and relevant travel bans and restrictions ensued from country to country.
 
This, then, caused the following to either cancel or postpone: Mobile World Congress (Barcelona, cancelled February event); SECON (Korea, postponed March event to July), and Security Show (Japan, cancelled March event).
 
Secutech Taipei has also deferred its April 2020 event to 2021. A statement from organizer Messe Frankfurt New Era Business Media (a Messe Frankfurt subsidiary that runs both Secutech events and a&s publications) reads: “Safeguarding the wellbeing of our stakeholders is always our top priority. Accordingly, we have decided to take appropriate measures to support the local government’s efforts to counter the COVID-19 outbreak.”
 

ISC West postponed

 
The real shock, however, was the postponement of ISC West, announced but 10 days before the show. It’s funny that the show’s organizer, Reed Exhibitions, had insisted throughout the better part of the year on holding the event as scheduled. Then, with a rise in infections and deaths in the United States, came a brutal barrage of withdrawal/reduced presence announcements by major exhibitors for example:
 
Ambarella:
“Due to continued concerns about the coronavirus outbreak and employee flight restrictions, Ambarella will no longer be able to host demonstrations of its video security technology at ISC West 2020.”
 
Seagate:
“With an abundance of caution and careful consideration, Seagate has decided to withdraw our participation in this year’s ISC West event due to the risks associated with the COVID-19 outbreak.”
 
Johnson Controls:
“At this time, Johnson Controls will be at ISC West, but will have a smaller presence for both its products and service business.”
 
These turns of events finally forced Reed Exhibitions to cave in, announcing: “Based on our close monitoring of ongoing developments with the virus, recent reports from public health officials and extensive consultation with our partners in the global security community, ISC West, scheduled to be held March 17-20, will now occur in July at the Sands Expo Center in Las Vegas (dates to be announced soon).”
 
A few days after that announcement, London-based IFSEC International announced to postpone its May event to September, which is quite understandable. The U.K. is seeing 383 infections (including its health minister who works closely with the UK Prime Minister), not to mention an overall deteriorating situation in Europe. Similarly, Security Event originally scheduled for April in Birmingham has been postponed to September as well.
 
As for the shows that have not been changed, these include Intertraffic (both Amsterdam and Indonesia, scheduled respectively for April and likely in November); COMPUTEX (Taipei, June); Secutech’s overseas shows (India, Vietnam and Thailand scheduled for May, August and November); IFSEC’s Asia events including Malaysia and the Philippines (June and July); Essen (September); and ISC East (New York, November). UPDATE: Intertraffic Amsterdam has deferred 2020 event to 2021.
 
It's important to note that these shows, plus the postponed ones, will be held assuming that the coronavirus situation will no longer be an issue -- which is something that no one at this point can foresee. In the end, whether we in the security exhibition business are going to have a busy second half is something that remains to be seen and that’s definitely interesting to observe.


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