FAIRFAX, VA AND CEDAR RAPIDS, IA-North America's electronic systems industry is bracing itself for a dramatic change in its annual events calendar, after NSCA and InfoComm announced they were to consolidate their tradeshow activities.
In a joint statement issued last month, the two associations announced that next year's NSCA Systems Integration Expo, originally slated for February 21-23 in Dallas, is to be cancelled and rolled into the InfoComm International show in Las Vegas on June 18-20. At the same time, InfoComm has agreed to discontinue its Executive Business Conference and become a primary sponsor of NSCA's Business Conference in the spring of 2008. (The 2007 NSCA Fall Business Conference will be held as scheduled, October 21-23 in San Diego.)
The move follows audience research at this year's NSCA Expo in Orlando, which showed that some 78 percent of visitors, and 80 percent of exhibitors, were also planning on going to InfoComm three months later. As the worlds of commercial audio, electronic systems, and professional AV have steadily converged over the past five years, the dividing line between the two events has become increasingly murky.
When questioned by Systems Contractor News on the nature of NSCA's presence in Las Vegas next year, Randal Lemke, Ph.D., executive director of InfoComm, said: "We already have an audio pavilion, and if you look at the NSCA exhibitors, a lot of them are already there in that pavilion. So what we're looking at now is a new pavilion sponsored by NSCA for new technologies, and we're looking at the floorplan to see if we can locate that close to our existing audio pavilion. We want the 140 NSCA exhibitors that are not currently with us to find a place they can call home."
According to Chuck Wilson, executive director of NSCA, these technologies will include audio evacuation, life safety and security, networked audio, and commercial intercom. These product sectors have not historically been seen as belonging to InfoComm's core audience of AV contractors, which has raised fears that they may become 'lost' in an enlarged InfoComm show-not least because next year's event is to be co-located with an IT and telecommunications show, NXTcomm.
There is also some doubt as to whether the new-look show can retain the close links to the architectural and 'intelligent building' communities that were historically perceived as being part of the NSCA family. However, while Wilson concedes that "architects are a hard group to reach because they're so busy doing other things," he says NSCA is considering branding its pavilion "Connected Buildings" and that InfoComm is "the best place for it to be."
"We want to focus on what we do best," added Wilson, "and one of those things is education. We will be offering NSCA University classes and certification testing at InfoComm, and the NSCA Education Foundation will be conducting other special events in the future."
One such event that has already been confirmed is NSCA TechWeek, which will be sponsored by InfoComm and launched in the fall of 2008. At TechWeek, both associations will offer education programs and certification testing, alongside manufacturer training and a small tabletop trade show of the kind that NSCA once hosted in the days before it re-invented its Expo.
And while questions remain about the extent to which so many new technologies can be properly accommodated under one roof at InfoComm, support from manufacturers for the consolidation has been unequivocal.
In a separate development, NSCA is also transferring its ownership interest in Integrated Systems Europe to the remaining partners, InfoComm and CEDIA.