As fears surrounding the coronavirus and the possibility that it will turn into a global pandemic have tanked stocks and forced nations to take emergency actions in response this week, the security industry has also started to feel the effects as several companies announced that they were canceling their plans to attend the upcoming ISC West tradeshow in Las Vegas.
On Friday, two major U.S. companies, Johnson Controls and Amazon, announced separately that each company will restrict employees’ domestic and international travel; thus, placing its attendance at the show up in the air. Johnson Controls currently occupies a 4,500 square-foot booth at ISC West, making the company one of the show’s largest exhibitors. Ring – a division of Amazon – has a 1,500 square-foot booth that anchors the show’s smart home pavilion.
The Johnson Controls employee travel ban was originally reported on IPVM.com, which posted an internal employee memo dated Feb. 27, 2020 and signed by company CEO George Oliver stating that the company has “decided as a proactive and precautionary measure to restrict all air travel, international and domestic.”
A spokesperson for Johnson Controls confirmed to SecurityInfoWatch that the company has indeed implemented a travel ban for its employees but stopped short saying whether or not they planned to attend ISC West.
"The health and safety of our employees is paramount. Given the rapid spread of the COVID-19 (Corona) virus around the globe, we are taking the precautionary step of suspending non-customer or non-business critical air travel for our employees in all countries," a statement from the company read. "We are monitoring the situation and will review our decision as developments warrant. Johnson Controls remains committed to our customers and we will work to ensure our customers’ needs are met during this time."
According to a Reuters report released Friday, Amazon informed its employees to defer all “non-essential” travel, including within the U.S., until further notice. A spokesperson for Ring told SecurityInfoWatch that it has "nothing to announce at this time," adding that they are monitoring the situation and "will continue to evaluate each event on a case-by-case basis."
Earlier this week, Motorola Solutions, the parent company of video surveillance manufacturer Avigilon, announced that Avigilon was withdrawing from the show due to concerns about the virus, also known as Novel Coronavirus or COVID 19.
“After careful consideration, we have withdrawn from this year’s ISC West trade show due to the widespread impact of the coronavirus. While ISC West is one important opportunity to demonstrate the power of Motorola Solutions' video security and analytics portfolio, the safety and well-being of our employees, customers and partners is our top priority,” reads a statement provided to SecurityInfoWatch. “We are grateful to the ISC West organizers for their understanding and look forward to attending and supporting future ISC West events.”
Avigilon’s withdrawal was quickly followed by an announcement from UK-based cloud video monitoring provider Videoloft, which also said it would not be participating at the show this year.
“While it wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly, we believe it is prudent to cancel our attendance at ISC West”, said James West, co-founder and CEO of Videoloft. “Safeguarding our employees’ and customers’ welfare remains our primary concern, and as a result, we will not be attending ISC West this year.”
SecurityInfoWatch also reached out to officials at a variety of other international companies scheduled to exhibit at ISC West. Two of them – Axis Communications and Hikvision – responded by saying that they still planned on attending the show but were monitoring the situation closely.
Will Wise, Group Vice President, Security, Smart Cities and Gaming Portfolio at Reed Exhibitions, the company behind ISC West, told SecurityInfoWatch on Friday that despite the fact that some companies are re-evaluating their attendance based on “corporate polices,” several new exhibitors have signed up for the show in the last week, and that attendee registrations over this past week “continue to be good and in line with this same week last year – both for expo pass sign ups and conference delegates.”
Reed has posted an announcement on the show website reaffirming its commitment to hosting the show as planned. Here is the statement in its entirety:
ISC West will occur as scheduled March 17th through 20th, 2020. We take pride in offering vital business opportunities to our customers, including networking, education and access to new products and technologies and are working diligently to ensure ISC West 2020 and our other events live up to our high standards. While we regret that some companies have made the decision not to take part in ISC West 2020, we are focused on making ISC West 2020 a successful, safe and enjoyable event for all attendees and exhibitors.
Over the last few weeks, Reed Exhibitions and our partners in ISC West have been closely monitoring the COVID-19 virus and its impact on members of the global security community. We are collaborating closely with the Sands Expo Center and local public health authorities and following local, state and federal public health guidelines, including those issued by the CDC. We have additional precautionary measures in place, including enhanced cleaning and sanitization across all public areas and customer touchpoints in the show and we are constantly reviewing our health protection activities, public health messaging, hygiene and medical control measures with the aim of strengthening our COVID-19 response further in line with up to date public health advice and guidance, including that of the CDC. We will continue to provide updates on our website as we get closer to ISC West. The health and safety of our team members and guests is our utmost priority. Our policies and best practices are in close collaboration with our venue partner, Sands Expo Center. The Sands Emergency Management Team works closely with local officials and are taking appropriate steps to protect team members and guests as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD). Sands is prepared to follow any additional protocols or guidance, as they are made available by the CDC or SNHD.
Reed said earlier this month that it would be cancelling the China Pavilion – an exhibit located off the main show floor dedicated to smaller Chinese manufacturers – given the travel restrictions recently imposed by the federal government barring travelers from the country from entering the United States. The impact to companies extend well beyond those that were slated to exhibit in the China Pavilion; in fact, according to a list we compiled, no less than 18 other Asian-based manufacturers and service providers with booths reserved on the main show floor are also no longer scheduled to attend.
ISC West is not the only security conference to be impacted thus far by the coronavirus. Last week, video management software firm Milestone Systems officially cancelled its APAC/EMEA MIPS event, which was scheduled to take place in April in Dubai. “The well-being of employees, partners and other stakeholders always take priority at Milestone. The MIPS conference is important, sharing insights and innovations as well as exploring upcoming trends, new technologies and challenges, together with our partners. While it has been difficult, we firmly believe that we have made the most responsible decision,” Kenneth Hune Petersen, Milestone’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer said in a statement.
News that the coronavirus has now spread well beyond China and Southeast Asia to the Middle East and Europe has sent shockwaves to governments and businesses around the world. In response, many large U.S. tech companies have taken pre-emptive action by canceling their attendance at other large conferences in the U.S. and abroad.
Microsoft, for example, recently announced that they would not be attending the Game Developers Conference, which is scheduled to take place March 16-20 in San Francisco. The company joins Facebook and Sony, which had previously said they would not be attending the conference. Facebook also announced this week that it would be canceling its F8 developer conference in May.
For those who will not be attending the show or prefer to see the latest and news and product announcements from the safety of your home or office: check out our ISC West landing page here. Beginning March 9, you can check out of products appearing in show preview of the March 2019 issue of Security Business magazine.
Joel Griffin is Editor-in-Chief of SecurityInfoWatch.com; Paul Rothman is Editor-in-Chief of Security Business magazine.