GSX 2019: Sights, Sounds & Takeaways From the Show Floor

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CHICAGO — With dust still settling from the goings on at GSX 2019, presented by ASIS Int’l, let’s spend a bit of time reflecting on this past week.

Myself and Web/Senior Editor Steve Karantzoulidis walked the entire show floor at the sprawling McCormick Place throughout the exhibition (Sept. 10-12) to bring you this overview. (Be sure to check out our official GSX show page for more post-show coverage in the coming week, which will include slideshows, product demos and insights from various industry representatives.)

First, let’s get the topic of exhibition attendance and vendors’ response to foot traffic out of the way. Any security professional who has regularly attended this conference — now in its 65th year — in recent time is well aware that exhibit hall aisles become lightly plied after a first day rush. By the third day, mostly, it can seem like only company representatives are holding sway in booth spaces. Attendees have either split the scene altogether or are elsewhere, such as educational sessions or other event activities.

Generally — although there certainly were a handful of vendors that appeared to enjoy robust attendee engagement well beyond the first day — the 2019 installment trended similarly to previous years. Several vendors we spoke with lamented the diminishing foot traffic, but also expressed the GSX exhibition remains an important venue to tell their story to the North American marketplace and globally. Read: The show remains vital for competitors to be heard and seen, but there are real concerns to be addressed.

In a post-event press release Friday, Christina Duffey, CPP, 2019 ASIS President, summed up the conference’s annual mission, at least in part: “GSX serves as a powerful forum for convening security leaders across the globe to learn, share information and network,” she stated. “I leave this year’s GSX more energized about our association, our profession, and our industry.”

According to ASIS, GSX 2019 attendance totaled 20,000 registrants from more than 125 countries and more than 550 exhibitors. Security professionals, with participants in more than 15 countries, were said to have taken part in sessions via Global Access LIVE! Streaming. The platform allowed individuals to view various sessions online as well as ask questions of the presenters and network through chat.

As it turns out, ASIS Int’l is acting to preserve GSX’s standing a premiere event. The organization posted on its website that it will ditch the traditionally abbreviated third day of exhibits (10 a.m.-1 p.m.) in 2020. Instead, the exhibition floor will open Monday from 3:30-6:30 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday hours — 10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. — will not change.

ASIS explains on its website: “The overall number of exhibit hours will be one hour less (from 18 hours to 17 hours), but by moving the start of the trade show to Monday afternoon, offering the first three hours as exclusive show floor hours and combining this exposition kickoff with our Opening Night Celebration, we expect the traffic density to be spread out more evenly over the course the three days in which the exposition floor is open and strong throughout.”

Overall the new GSX event schedule will increase the total number of exclusive trade show hours to 11 hours. Closing GSX on Wednesday, 3:30 pm, allows exhibitors to “gain a full day of straight time move out. This means exhibitors should not need to incur any overtime move out labor or drayage charges. Overall and in comparison, Atlanta is going to be considerably lower cost labor market than Chicago. In 2019, straight time labor is approximately 26% lower in Atlanta than Chicago, and overtime rates are 37% lower.”

That should come as good news to vendors. In fact, one executive I spoke with specifically mentioned Chicago’s union labor costs as an example of the problems GSX has in staging the event in a different city each year. Some are simply a lot more costly than others.

Make no mistake: GSX is well positioned to remain vibrant and maintain its position of eminence as a must-attend educational conference and exhibition. There are too many hard-working professionals within the ASIS Int’l organization who care too deeply about securing lives and property for the event not to remain relevant.

Sure, ISC West has become the leading venue in the North American market for major product announcements. But many manufacturers — global or otherwise — elected to announce significant portfolio additions in Chicago as well. These included ASSA ABLOY, Bosch, Genetec, Hanwha, Hikvision, among others.

Importantly, GSX continues to serve as a platform to observe and see firsthand not just the latest technologies but current trends as well. To name but a few from this past week: increase in discussion and implementation of cyber-hardening products and systems; driving value while making systems less complex; machine learning to create ROI and drive business efficiencies; deeper system integrations, such as video surveillance and access control;  “frictionless” mobile access control credentials; and more.

To get a glimpse of the show floor and other takeaways, scroll through the sampling of tweets that follow here. Plus, don’t miss the video montage at the top of this article. And by all means crank up the Chicago-inspired bluesy, toe-tappin’ soundtrack.

GSX 2020 will be held Sept. 21-23 in Atlanta. To learn more about that event, go here.

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