The security industry has always been at the forefront of protecting people.

Will Wise, group vice president of Reed Exhibitions, which produces and manages ISC events, says that’s especially true now in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A completely unique but powerful part of our industry is that, during this time of COVID-19, the security professionals, the integrators, the channels working with the enterprise and the government really are the essential workers at this time,” Wise says.

Ahead of the event, now taking place virtually from Oct. 5 to 7, Wise shares what to expect from this year’s virtual conference.

Instead of hosting more than 100 sessions over four or five days, Wise says this year’s event has an added focus on quality, with speakers whose presentations translate well digitally.

“We purposely chose to have a strong offering, but to make it digestible, knowing that nobody's going to be on the program for three straight days,” he says. “You can pick and choose certain activities or sessions.”

In total, there are 36 sessions and keynotes from speakers like Michael MacKenzie, general manager of IoT Connectivity & Control Services for Amazon Webservices IoT; Charles Burns, head of global security engagement at Uber; and Shannon Huffman Polson, founder of The Grit Institute.

For those looking to explore vendors, Wise says the exhibitor Tech Center allows attendees to engage, connect and access content downloads from exhibitors.

“We purposefully said we’re not going to try and recreate the expo floor and have a virtual reality booth,” Wise says. “We don’t think that’s realistic.”

Even charity events at ISC West are virtual. For example, the Mission 500 Security 5k/2k, which typically raises more than $120,000, can be done anywhere.

Wise and his team are already planning a hybrid conference for next year, with a digital-only option for those who are unable to attend the in-person conference.

“That's going to be different than the old school tradeshow model, which is, ‘I don't want to do anything digital because people won't show up.’ But the new reality is going to make it seamless across physical and digital access,” Wise says.

He looks to this year’s theme for ISC West — “Comprehensive Security for a Safer, Connected World” — when thinking about planning this year’s conference.

“There are so many pieces to the industry, and the challenge of integrating that all both from a technology perspective, but then a people and organizational collaboration perspective is challenging, but also a huge opportunity,” he says.

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