Dealing with Harsh Realities in Fantasyland

By the time this issue hits your desk, ASIS International 2007 will be right around the corner.  This year the show will be in Las Vegas , and honestly, I'm looking forward to it.

Speaking of Vegas, someone once told me: “Vegas is like cheesecake; a little bit tastes really good but too much will make you sick.”

Maybe so, but regardless what your views are of “Sin City,” this town has widespread appeal to people from all walks of life. It really is a Disneyland for adults—a fantasyland in which people can escape the all-too-common stresses of everyday life.

Earlier this year while walking the busy show floor at ISC West (also in Vegas), I had one of those moments where I just stopped and “took it all in.” I marveled at how, in each direction, I could see exhibitors' booths for as far as the eye could see, and the sheer number of people walking the show floor was staggering.  The place was buzzing.

But something wasn't right, and soon it hit me.  Aside from medical emergency response systems and fire/CO detection, much of the security industry exists to address the age-old problem of man's inhumanity to fellow man.  For me, that was a depressing thought.

Our access control systems, video surveillance, and intrusion detection capabilities are getting better in order to minimize the opportunities people have to steal, vandalize, assault, or murder—and if something heinous does happen, we want the technology to help bring the criminal(s) to justice.

Of course, as technology advances, the minds and tactics of criminals also change in a perpetual game of cat-and-mouse. The lengths to which a man (or woman for that matter!) can go to deceive other people seems to have no bounds. For instance, it's eerie to think back six years to even the smallest of details in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Every step of the way, al Qaeda preyed on vulnerabilities for which they calculated we had no defense—even down to which plane seats they sat in and who they attacked first.

Getting down to the nitty-gritty of security can be quite sobering, even in a glitz ‘n glam town with escapist resorts named “The Mirage,” “ Treasure Island ,” and “Circus Circus.” While sometimes it feels like our security industry has an uphill fight against crime and terrorism, it's a worthwhile cause. I'm reminded of an ancient Chinese proverb (or maybe I just read it in a fortune cookie). Anyway, it says, “Learning is like rowing upstream: not to advance is to fall further behind.”

At the end of the day, I think that's why I'm excited to be going to another ASIS show. It's to learn and see how security solutions are improving; and to be able to report to you, the security dealer / integrator, what new trends and products will impact your business.