Vendors urged to sign up for annual tech forumby jmaloni
Only 60 booths available
by Christian W. Peck
Public Information Officer
Niagara County Public Information Office
A dozen years on, Western New York's premier technology confab will once again bring the latest information on the intersection of information technology and homeland security to attendees ranging from IT professionals to "geeks" of all stripes this October.
The 12th annual Technology and Homeland Security Forum follows another successful outing last year, when more than 400 people ranging from IT bosses to local law enforcement leaders to casual computer users concerned about cyber-security and securing their home systems against viruses, malware and identity thieves.
And, with just 60 vendor booths available, organizers are urging those interested in putting the latest technology and services offered by their companies in front of at least 400 top customer prospects to register soon, as recent years have seen the forum fill all of its vending space.
"Attendance at the Technology and Homeland Security Forum has grown every year, and we don't expect this fall to be any different," said Larry Helwig, IT director for Niagara County's government - and a key organizer of the event. "Our business world, our governments, and our own lives are increasingly plugged in - and securing all of those networks, all of those home computers, all of those electronic tools, well, that's becoming more and more a necessary part of life."
Helwig said forum organizers would begin advertising this year's event and registering attendees in the next two weeks.
While the forum has always featured a wide array of vendors showing off the latest technology and software (although, with 60 vendor booths, the forum has grown significantly since its inaugural year, when it played host to just 20 vendors) it is best known for the free professional education for IT professionals - and anyone else interested in getting a leg up on network security.
Helwig noted that some of the presenters at recent technology and homeland security forums have included not only some of the best names in the information security business, but police agencies ranging from the Niagara County Sheriff's Office to the FBI.
"We have the ability to host 18 classrooms sessions this year," Helwig explained. "Each class runs for about an hour and 15 minutes, and we've always strived to make sure that professionals attending those sessions would be able to claim CPE credits."
Helwig noted that only a few afternoon sessions remain, but said companies and individuals wishing to teach various information security-related classes were still welcome to contact event organizers to sign up.
The forum, which is funded entirely through vendor contributions, functions at no cost to county taxpayers.
"I originally got involved in planning this forum because, as an IT professional, it's a field I knew and cared about - after all, topics covered affected me every day," Helwig said. "But this forum has grown to be a major regional asset. And, with free professional education, it's providing a real service to IT pros and the companies, schools and governments they work for."
Helwig noted that ongoing education and certification is a requirement to obtain government homeland security grants.
"In order to be eligible for some of these grants, you have to be able to prove that your management workforce is a certain percentage certified," Helwig explained.
This year's forum will be held Oct. 3 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls. The cost for a single vendor booth is $225, which will be invoiced. More information is available online athttp://www.niagaracounty.com/forum.asp. Those interested in registering a booth or providing professional instruction can also call 716-439-7043 for more information.
As always, the forum will offer free breakfast and lunch for attendees.
The forum is sponsored by Niagara County, InfoTech Niagara, Infragard, and the Erie County Local Emergency Planning Committee.
"We're proud to partner with some real information security professionals, and we look forward to working with our vendors," Helwig said. "Information security is a very real concern of the business world and governments, and we're glad to do our part."