City of big shoulders to host ASIS 2013

May 2, 2013
Annual conference scheduled for Chicago in September

The vibrant and super-trendy city of Chicago plays host to ASIS in September and I had a sneak peek at the fun and flavor expected at the upcoming conference during a recent media tour of the soon-to-be “ASIS kind of town.”

Expecting some 20,000 visitors to the event, which is slated for Sept. 24 to 27 at McCormick Place, the ASIS 59th annual seminar and exhibits will operate under the moniker: "Strategic, Smart, Secure." Chicago, as one of the largest cities in North America, is well-poised to entertain and enlighten visitors.

Exhibits and educational sessions will be held at the North and South buildings of McCormick Place—a campus onto itself that attracts more than three million visitors annually. The South, North and West buildings along Lakeside Center combine for a total of 2.6 million square-feet of exhibit space, with 1.3 million square-feet all on one level—making it the largest convention center in the Western Hemisphere. For you techies out there—and exhibits that need a good dose of high-tech—McCormick Place recently wrapped a complete overhaul of its technology infrastructure, adding permanent Internet2 capabilities. It’s the only convention center with such permanent advanced technology.

That technology is sure to come in handy when ASIS delegates head to McCormick Place from various hotels: the Hyatt McCormick Place (on property), headquarters hotel Hilton on south Michigan Ave., and all along the Magnificent Mile and many points in-between.

Attendees who arrive early for ASIS 2013 can take advantage of pre-seminar programs Sunday and Monday at McCormick Place. These small group, in-depth programs focus on specialized areas of security. In addition, the ISC2 Security Congress, co-located with ASIS 2013, offers attendees over 80 educational sessions focusing on current and emerging issues, best practices and challenges facing cyber security leaders. In all, some 200 concurrent educational sessions are scheduled.

Attendees can also connect with friends and colleagues at The President's Reception, Tuesday, Sept. 24 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the world-famous Museum of Science and Industry and the exhibit area of the U-505 Submarine, the only German U-boat captured during World War II and one of only five U-boats left in the world. In 2005 the submarine was brought indoors from its outdoor location into a newly built 35,000-square-foot interactive exhibit with more than 200 artifacts, archival footage, reenacted event and an on-board tour.

Other highlights of ASIS 2013 include: the keynote and general session with Apple Computer Co-Founder and Philanthropist Steve Wozniak on Wednesday, Sept. 25 and ‘Da Coach’ himself Mike Ditka, legendary NFL coach and sports analyst, at the closing luncheon, Friday, Sept. 27.

Chicago is well-poised for visitors, who bring in $12 billion annually to the city. “We value your business—the economic impact to the city of the ASIS conference is expected to be about $28 million in revenue,” said Cindy Payne, CMP and director of client services for Choose Chicago. Payne said a new mobile app from the city, at is available free from the app store. You can also search Choose Chicago to find and download the app.

Heading security at McCormick Place is George Rosebrock, security manager and a retired officer from the Chicago Police Department. Rosebrock said McCormick Place is well protected with physical and electronic security, but that it’s one of those “perfect storm locations. If you hurt McCormick Place, you hurt the city. That’s what keeps me up at night,” he said.

Rosebrock said event security is all about a perfect balance of good personnel, electronic security and stellar communications. “At McCormick place, my goal is to make it hard for an incident to happen. Shows come and go—and how do you combat anything? How do I look for suspicious boxes among all those crates and boxes and electronics? It comes down to communication and being able to work closely with people."

McCormick Place has a full-time security force with a number of supervisors. They are not sworn officers, but Rosebrock said that doesn’t dilute security at the massive venue. “The bottom line is that we have to work with each individual show. Each show runs its own contract security as well. But we are responsible for the facility and the safety of the people when they come in. Communication is everything. Security is a difficult field—you don’t have that level of power like the police department. You have to work with people—and it’s all a matter of balance. The ideal thing is to be proactive and not reactive and we do that with intelligence,” he said.