The Security Show that Was: ISC West 2006

April 10, 2006
SIW Editor Geoff Kohl surveys the buzz from Las Vegas

Vegas will overwhelm you. It's the combination of the glitter from the casinos and the 10,000 products you can find on the ISC West show floor, each with a different whiz-bang feature set. If you feel anything like I do, when you walk away from ISC West, you're head is spinning from all the new offerings, and you're ready to get back to the "normal" world of security and try to figure out how to apply what you've learned to your business.

For the benefit of our readers who weren't able to attend this years' show, and to share a bit of our perspective on the show to those of you who were there, we pull together this Monday column merging some thoughts we had from the ISC West 2006 show.

First of all, there was a sense that the show was bigger than previous ISC shows. According to Doug Wright, the manager of industry groups for SIA, the show had almost 20,000 pre-registrations. Judging by the show floor, those numbers were about right. Wednesday and Thursday were packed at the show, but by Friday, traffic had quieted down as attendees flew back to their homes. Still, Wednesday and Thursday were more than productive enough to make up for Friday, and there were times that you couldn't even walk down the aisles without maneuvering like you were in a crowded concert hall.

But beyond the size of the show, the scope was probably the more important codifier. Touring the 30-plus aisles of the show, you could find everything from drills bits designed to aid in installing cable to cutting edge metal and ceramic object detection scanners. If there was any one change at the show, though -- it was that the focus of ISC West seems to have changed from being more an installing dealer show to now aiming more and more at the systems integration and end user sectors. That was nowhere more evident that in the Urban Security pavilion where biohazard mail threat detection, smoke/fog machines and vehicle-stopping bollards stood side-by-side.

Out on the main show floor, the focus was still on the dealers, but the residential element of the show seemed less prominent. Big exhibitors had their residential components (from the likes of GE, Honeywell, Tyco, Linear and others), but speaking with representatives from so many companies, they seemed to be pitching commercial security technology more than residential applications.

The hot story of this year's show was, as always, the hardware technology. Cool hardware was the name of the game: from cool new units like HID's edge reader (an HID card reader connected via the IP network), to Panasonic's WJ-ND300 network disc recorder (which won an award in the SIA new product showcase under the CCTV category), to the new Gigabit switches from IFS, to SANYO's CIM (case information management program -- a system pulling together all the hardware you need for a successful desk interrogation), to the unbelievably detailed holographs you can get on today's access control cards, to Bosch's Easy Series of residential and light commercial alarm panels, and even to the why-didn't-I-think-of-that technology of Brady Corporation/J.A.M. Plastics' No-Flip lanyards.

But while hardware always steals the show, ISC showed that, with the move to IP video and even IP access control readers, the software "glue" that manages and links data from video, intrusion and access (and POS and HR and what-have-you) is what's going to be the show stoppers in years to come.

On the show floor, that software was well represented, with big "flavors of the show" being MDI's new ONE technology, Lenel's new 2006 version of OnGuard, DVTel's Latitude system, and Integral Technologies' DigitalSENTRY video management system. Those obviously aren't the only ones; there are simply too many to mention. Today, these platforms are becoming very robust and are more easily able to integrate to other software systems, whether it's access control with HR, or video with access, or intrusion with access and video. As we move toward next year's show, the latest hardware will continue to drive ISC West, but I predict that these software systems are going to be what steals the show.

And while we think that the software may overtake the hardware in the years to come, we're not saying that the security products like cameras, DVRs and encoders are going to become mere commodities. In fact, Axis Communications' Fredrik Nilsson, during an interview at ISC, said that commercial security system buyers aren't likely to turn to the no-brand/low-price leaders. Why? Because they want to know that their security really does work -- not that they saved $193.56 by buying the non-brand DVR or camera. Our industry understands that good technology at higher prices will still sell more than yesterday's technology at cheap prices. After all, it's quality and piece-of-mind that will always drive your sales and your security system upgrades.

Catch all the glitter of ISC West on SIW at You can also find this news -- organized by product categories -- on our main site. You can also listen to ISC West interviews with industry thought leaders on our podcasts page:


"Dealers are looking for more power."
-- Altronix's Kirby Han, talking about power supplies (but applicable to how dealers are positioning their business, too, we think.)

"They start to fulfill our mission of an intelligent vision control center, and they are hardware agnostic."
-- DVTel's Kim Robbins, discussing the company's acquisition of access control system company Security Applications Inc.

"It's not always true that if you have more technology, you'll have less privacy."
--Dan Greenwood, MIT lecturer and director of a new MIT & HID partnership to educate the public about RFID

"The consumer needs a connection to the home."
--Bill McGann, GE Security's CTO, discussing how technology is changing residential security

"We're here to help your industry understand what IP is all about."
--Paul Hennings, announcing the U.S. launch of the IP UserGroup