SecureTech Roundup

Sep 15, 2011

With a long history of defence trade show success with behind it, the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI) was challenged with how to do the same for the security industry. CANSEC has rapidly grown over the years to be the largest defence trade show in Canada.

Business executives and managers from a wide variety of organizations flocked to the sobering presentations on the state of preparedness in Canada and world-wide.

As the dynamics within the security industry are so different from defence, organizers knew the format for a security event would have to be fresh and new. Different buyers, jurisdictional regimes, budgets and different end users all underline a need to develop a unique platform that would be distinct from CANSEC. With that understanding, SecureTech 2011 organizers went to work, creating a multi-track conference/trade show event with a focus on Canada, the UK and the United States. Most of the people I spoke with gave the event passing marks for its first year.

In security there are issues around the differences mentioned above. These issues need to be presented and debated, at least in terms of the solutions available. And, the fact that CADSI is perfectly positioned to provide the link between government and industry, it was challenged to design and execute a conference program that would draw in both the subject matter experts to address the key issues, and the users and buyers of solutions.

Certainly from the point of view of a slate of relevant topics, SecureTech hit the mark. Six content tracks were used to examine various elements of a totally resilient society – an ideal for sure but still one that needs pursuit. Here’s the way SecureTech dealt with these six tracks:

Critical Infrastructure
No discussion on national security could take place without the foundational perspective of critical infrastructure protection (CIP). The panelists represented Public Safety Canada, of course, and through participation by the energy sector and the DHS representative from the U.S., the point was made clearly that interdependencies are inter-sectoral and international, especially vis-à-vis the U.S. The term “resilience” was born out of the CIP discourse and pervaded the discussion on this panel – and rightly so!

Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison talks about the economic effects of piracy to a rapt audience.

Transportation Security
Multi modal transportation systems are a key component to public safety and security and are accurately positioned as one of the major critical infrastructure components with numerous interdependencies. The discussions centered mostly around air transport and particularly on what is happening at CATSA. New solutions in air transport security are hard to come by these days and the panelist in this track struggled for new ideas. Next year it would make more sense to look for more progressive solutions that not only react to events with screening technologies but look to positive developments that will speed up international commerce through trust solutions.

Maritime Security
This component of national security attracted the keynote from the Maritime Commander in Canada, Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison. Admiral Maddison spoke of the need for cooperation with world governments and with industry to ensure safety and security on the world waterways. The panelists that followed did a deep dive into two of the major components of Maritime Security – Maritime Domain Awareness and Port Security, which was also the focus of the last edition of FrontLine Security. As with many of the other discussions on security from an international perspective, the focus here was on the importance of safe shipping lanes, without which economic prosperity is in jeopardy for many nations.

Disaster Management and Emergency Planning
Most of the action around this track was on the issue of interoperability among first responders. This topic was the best choice for a discussion on disaster management and emergency planning because it brought in the roles of the Tri-services and tied in with that the benefits that come from industry. Working with organizations like the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance, the first responders have identified the need to lobby the government to preserve communications spectrum to enable interoperable, high bandwidth applications for life saving operations.

Cyber Security
Given the international incidents of cyber attacks, this was a timely topic for discussion by an international panel of experts from government and industry. The escalating incidence of cyber attacks coupled with the stakes at play surrounded this theme with a particular air growing concern. Panel presentations from the leaders in industry served to offer confidence that the threats are being vigorously defended – but it’s a war out there and continued vigilance is the order of the day.

Identity and Access Management
One of the most interesting discussions at the conference was the debate on access management and the role of biometrics in providing certainty in credentialing and access. This is an area where the leading technology companies in Canada and internationally are working on solutions that will speed up commerce and provide the confidence that travelers and workers are safe and secure. It sounds like we can expect much more development in this area in the future.

FrontLine Editor, Edward R. Myers, attended the inaugural SecureTech event at the Ottawa Convention Centre. Next year’s event will be held at the same location from October 30-31, 2012.
© FrontLine Security 2011