The big interview – Gerry Dunphy, IFSEC Event Director


Ahead of IFSEC 2023, taking place between 16-18 May at the ExCel in London, Security on Screen were granted access to an interview with the show’s Event Director, Gerry Dunphy, who believes the upcoming event will be one to remember given its the 50th year anniversary of the show

For those who are perhaps unaware, what exactly is IFSEC?

It’s three days of intensive focus discovery, discussion, collaboration and it’s where the UK and international security worlds come together under one single purpose, which is all about making the world a much, much safer place.

It’s a destination event full of energy, it’s got lots of committed people, loads of enjoyment and most importantly this year, it’s 50 years young and we’re really looking forward to the next 50 years.

How can people access IFSEC?

The show is located in London’s ExCel venue on the 16th-18th of May this year. We’re very, very pleased to say we’ve got the brand new Elizabeth line, which is now running from east to west in London, so it means the journey times and the seamless connections to ExCel have been vastly improved from what they were before, so you can actually get to ExCel from central London in 15 minutes.

You can also get to the ExCel directly from Heathrow in 45 minutes and you’ve obviously got the DLR still running and can also access ExCel via the City airport.

You can also drive your car there if you’d like to because there’s ample parking spaces, so there’s loads of connectivity at one of the biggest venues in the world and it’s fantastically located in London, which is a favourite city for most people in the world. 

What’s new for IFSEC 2023?

We’re really pleased this year as we’ve got the brand new distributor network, which is a partnership arrangement that we have with 11 of the UK’s leading security and fire distributors.

It’s a realisation that we have that the distributors themselves represent a key link between the manufacturers and also the installer integrator end user community.

We’re very pleased to be partnering with leading distributors, such as DVS, DTS, CIE Group, Oprema, ADI Global, Security Dynamics, Dynamic CCTV, Mars Digital and PureTech – all leading distributors.

They’ve got very broad and interesting national customer bases, so we’re looking forward to working with them to get their customers to come to show, but most importantly, they can meet the leading suppliers, so they can ask the suppliers about all the technology and use their relationship with the distributor as a key part of that. 

We’ve also got the Tech Talks theatre, which is bringing content back onto the show floor, where we’re looking at a huge range of things from the use of body cams to the future of access control.

We’ve also got a session on mental health and wellbeing in the security sector and we’ve also got a specific seminar, which is all about the introduction of Martin’s Law, which is coming into focus in the UK in April, hopefully this year, which will vastly change how large venues and open spaces are managed from a security perspective. 

What would you say is the most popular feature at the event and what other things do you have in store that you’re anticipating to be well received?

Interestingly, the most popular feature that we’ve probably ever run is the attack testing zone, which is in partnership with the LPCB, which is basically where visitors can actually witness LPS 1175 level three products, effectively tested to the absolute limit by the technicians by LPCB.

It’s a brilliantly dynamic and engaged set of demonstrations, whereby people can watch doors, shutters and enclosures – all sorts of things – basically taken to task by the technicians and just proving why these highly engineered solutions are as effective as they are and why perhaps the customer should consider specifying them in their projects. 

We’ve also got a converged security centre returning in partnership with our friends at Advancis, which is always a really compelling example of where technology – both hardware and software – can actually come together to tell the story around a certain security incident.

It’s where we’re looking at simulated scenarios in cyber threat and stuff like that, but also shows the visitors what can be done and what can be achieved with the proper converged security solutions, so it’s very, very effective.

If you’re running one of the security operation centres (SOCS) or even a GSOC (global security operation centre), that sort of technology will really help you realise your ambition, so we recommend people come and have a look at that. 

Finally, we’ve also got the engineers of tomorrow feature, which is a brilliant example of where we work with partners to actually celebrate the skills and abilities of the up and coming engineers of tomorrow. We’re very, very pleased to be holding the semi final heats of that particular competition at IFSEC. 

It’s naturally difficult for events like IFSEC to be sustainable, but what are you putting in place to try and achieve some degree of sustainability?

Sustainability as a global question is probably the most important challenge and the most important thing that we’re all facing at the moment.

In the exhibition industry as a whole, we have to say that it’s an extremely wasteful industry in the past, but we are rapidly and drastically addressing that at Informa.

We have a number of plans in place, not least our faster forward strategy, where we actually hope to be net zero by 2025. We’ve got in place at the moment a programme called Better Stands, which is where we’re working with contractors and exhibitors to ensure that the stand materials, the stand build and contractors are all working towards the same goal, which is to look to create minimal wastage and contribute to this net zero project by 2025.

We’re desperate to make positive impacts on the environment and society as a whole and on the societal side, working with the charities such as Mates in Mind on mental health and wellbeing is where we’re really looking to make a difference here.

IFSEC itself represents a very, very wide global community and we can use this sort of privileged position to reach a much broader audience and really make a positive impact. 

When it comes to the future of the security industry, what is exciting you the most?

Looking at it and the way it’s going, it’s the ways in which security is kind of becoming part of something else. By that I mean, the way that you can repurpose the technologies and the approaches and the systems and the technologies to deliver something, which is way and above just looking for people doing bad things.

The amount of creativity now you can use with security technologies and the form of business intelligence…you can measure people coming in and out of your building, which can then contribute to the actual sustainability of the building itself.

It’s how the security system contributes to the overall building control, it’s how an integrated system becomes part of a much wider network of a bigger building and there’s also some really cool stuff like the remote operations, the evolution of GSOCs around the world is a fantastic solution, it’s adding to the sustainability because you can have all your security management in one place and doesn’t need to be in your own country anymore – it can be an outsourced solution for you.

From the very start, which was burglar alarms in 1973 and the first ISEC in the Royal Angus Hotel, to where we are now, it’s 50 years of incredible development and evolution and we’re looking forward to the next 50. 

Listen to the full interview with Gerry Dunphy here on IFSEC Insider

The 50th year of IFSEC will be a big celebration with new and existing industry partners. Register for FREE and don’t miss out on 3 days (16-18th May 2023) of access to content and networking opportunities across all co-located events, including FIREX, Safety & Health Expo, and Facilities Expo.


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