If you are familiar with ISC West in any capacity, then you know that the 2021 edition certainly won't be be like any of the previous tradeshows. In a post-COVID world, it's fair to expect some new policies to be put into place. And ISC West is no exception. Get ready for sweeping changes.
For those who haven't been keeping up with the news, the 2020 edition of ISC West was pretty much non-existent. While it's true there was a virtual-only event, we really didn't get much out of it. Manufacturers didn't seem excited about the virtual-only event either. And when we checked it out, there really wasn't much we could cover. ISC West has always been recognized as an iconic Las Vegas event, and it just didn't adapt well to the virtual format.
But for 2021, ISC West is being marketed as a "hybrid" event. Basically, it means that the show will go on in Las Vegas, but with some strict guidelines in place. Sure, there will be some online content to cater to those who refuse to attend a massive public gathering, as well as those who can't afford to put their personal health into jeopardy. But if the all-virtual 2020 ISC West was any indication, I wouldn't expect the "virtual" offerings to light the world on fire. ISC West is about the Vegas experience. It's about the manufacturers putting their best stuff forward and offering an interactive in-person event. And while there will inevitably be some policies meant to protect everyone involved, the fact is that this will probably be the largest security conference since ISC East 2019.
First and foremost, we should applaud the folks at ISC West for even attempting a conference like this in 2021. No, this ISC West definitely won't look or feel like the previous gatherings from 2019 and earlier. Some people will stay home. Almost everyone will be more on their toes. Nobody knows truly what to expect out of a global tradeshow in a post-pandemic world. But that hasn't stopped the organizers from trying.
And so, for ISC West 2021, being held at the Sands Exposition and Convention Center from July 19 thru 21, some guidelines have been released. We can't say that we're surprised, but having seen the chaos and crowds associated with previous editions, we can't even begin to picture what ISC West 2021 will look like. The one thing working in this event's favor is that some otherwise annual attendees will undoubtedly opt-out, stay home, and try to get the most out of whatever virtual offerings are available.
But for those who are willing to put on a brave face (and facemask) for attending the largest gathering of who's who in the security industry, here are the guidelines put out by ISC. And we will say right away, we expect these policies to be very strictly enforced. ISC West is put on by some of the smartest guys and gals in the room. They wouldn't risk the health and safety of the security industry leaders if they didn't think they could do it properly. So while the event has already been pushed back from its original March 23 thru 26 schedule, here's what will be in store for the July 19 thru 21 affair.
- Facemasks: Required. This should come as absolutely no surprise. Facemasks will be mandatory for everyone on the ISC West floor. This applies to everyone - all attendees, vendors, manufacturers, hosts, no exceptions. Furthermore, ISC West is not allowing any face coverings with valves, bandanas, neck gaiters, or masks of "unpermitted" materials. ISC also specifically outlaws "mesh materials", face coverings with holes, significantly damaged face coverings, and "costume" masks. At a minimum, face coverings must fit properly and snugly, and they must fully cover a person's nose and mouth, and secure under the chin. You can review the ISC West Face Covering Guidelines in full detail here.
Temperature Screenings: Mandatory. You aren't getting on the floor without a temperature screening. And if you register above 100.4°F, then sorry, you will be turned away. Again, this isn't a surprise. We're talking about a group of individuals putting out the latest and most advanced security equipment that mankind has to offer. Somewhere along the way, we picked up a few thermometers as well. People will be screened, and people who have a fever won't be permitted inside. It might be wise to pack a small personal thermometer in your luggage to take your own temperature before trying to enter. And if you don't feel well, then please, don't risk it for everyone else. We know ISC West is exciting, but there has to be a cut-off point. And that cut-off is 100.4°F.
- Enhanced Sanitation: Reed Exhibitions, the group organizing ISC West, is working to enhance the sanitation standards for ISC West 2021. Attendees are being asked to remain responsible for their own hygiene and cleanliness. Reed Exhibitions recommends that everyone washes their hands for at least twenty (20) seconds at a time with soap and warm water. This should be done frequently. Wash your hands. Use sanitizer. The new normal.
- Physical Distancing: You have likely heard of social distancing by now, and this is strikingly similar. Reed Exhibitions has adjusted the show's "layout", and exhibitors are being required to "promote physical distancing". Attendees are being asked to maintain a physical distance of at least six (6) feet between each other. As someone who attended a pre-COVID ISC West, this is the hardest guideline for me to picture. Personal space was a precious commodity at previous gatherings, and you had to accept being in the close quarters of others. How exactly "physical distancing" will go down at ISC West 2021 is tough for me to imagine personally. Just try your best to keep your distance, and if someone says you're too close, politely respect their wishes and back up. It's for health and safety.
- Distance Marking & Signage: To promote the physical distancing requirements, Reed Exhibitions is putting up floor and distance markings. Additionally, "operational adjustments" may occur throughout the event (aka, on the fly) as needed to "ensure the health and safety of all attendees". This is a nice way of saying, expect the unexpected, and that the rules may change at any time. If you've seen those "six feet" distance markers at a department store, it will likely look similar at ISC West. Again, this is in the best interest of everyone involved. Do your best to keep a distance and protect the safety of yourself and others.
- Hands-Free Greetings: Another policy that should come as no surprise. Don't shake hands. Don't hug. Don't even fist bump. Hands off! Just smile and wave, from six or more feet away.
- Registration is Open: That's right, you too can get on board for the adventure that will be ISC West 2021. It's certainly going to be like nothing we have ever seen before. And believe me, none of these rules and guidelines are meant to scare anyone. If you have a normal, healthy immune system, then you should feel completely safe and comfortable at ISC West 2021. Like I mentioned earlier, the brightest minds from the security industry are coming forth to put on this incredible, once-a-year event. Just keep your distance (and your facemask on), and everything will be fine.
- Summer Time: Okay, this is my own personal addition, but you may have noticed the event is in July, which is one of the hottest months in the Northern Hemisphere (which is where the United States happens to be located). And you may also notice that Las Vegas, NV is a literal desert. Yes, the event will be inside in an air-conditioned building. But I can tell you now, this will be a hotter ISC West than previous years. This isn't a springtime affair. This is in the dog days of summer, in the desert. Be careful with your health, and try not to get caught outside for an extended period. It's hot out there, and we don't want anyone suffering from heat stroke. Plan accordingly, stay inside when possible, and stay hydrated.
ISC West is quickly approaching! In less than three (3) months all the (brave) faces of the security world will be coming together to try to bring back some semblance of normalcy. Yes, it will be different, but together we can make it a success. Share your thoughts in a comment down below. We'll see you in July. And remember to stay tuned to the Alarm Grid Blog for updates until then. Despite all of the rules, safety guidelines, and important regulations, it's still the biggest and brightest convention of the year! It's okay to get a little hyped and excited. We're looking forward to it, and you should too. Until then, stay safe, stay clean, and practice your best socially distant greetings. Let's all get ready for the safest ISC West ever!