64 THE MEETING PROFESSIONAL APRIL 2016
through the air on bikes, the details of their movement appearing onscreen in real time; Academy Award-winning Slumdog
Millionaire composer A.R. Rahman leads a troupe of musicians
in motion-activated auditory merriment; an artist creates im-mersive imagery in VR with the HTC Vive. For all of this, and
countless other cameos and teasers, Tess Vismale, CMP (MPI
Georgia Chapter), and I are in the front row of the jam-packed
room. Somehow, I walk away nonplussed. There were many notable reveals during the
keynote, but not a singular
one great enough to magnify the collective excitement.
SAFE AS MILK
The next day, after a tour
of the MGM Grand, we’re
off to the LVCC via mono-
rail. Exiting the station, an
enormous tent marked
“Registration” ;ills much
of the landscape—sud-
denly I’m a child walking
closer and closer to Dis-
ney World for the ;irst
time…I know the experi-
ence is going to be incred-
ible, but I’m already astounded at what I see. There’s. Just. So.
Spending time with the CES security team proves informative and sobering. (The following is below top secret and safe
for dissemination.) New security measures are in place this
year—bag searches, explosive-detecting K9s, more security
throughout—presumably due to the high-pro;ile attacks that
have taken place at meeting and event venues in San Bernardino, Calif., and Paris over the past months. There haven’t been
any direct threats to CES, but organizers want the additional security in place due to an abundance of caution. As large as CES
is—and temporarily home to more CEOs than any other place
on the planet—it’s a natural target for violent extremists. What
makes this enhanced security so notable is that mandatory bag
searches at CES have only happened once before: January 2002,
following 9/11. That should give you an idea as to the level of
caution or concern identi;ied by organizers.
In an intimate meeting from security headquarters at the
LVCC, Kevin Murphy, senior manager of CES operations, and Ray
Suppe, senior director of security for the center, go over some
of the challenges and how this year’s CES is different for them.
Given the amount of activity taking place here, I’m astounded at
the omnipresent calm.
Normally, there would be three contract security companies
for CES; this year, there are ;ive (estimated total of 400 security
personnel). Suppe says the task of securing such an event is taken very seriously as he shows photos of past security staff sleeping or uselessly distracted on the job. If a contract security guard
is spotted sleeping, reading, playing on a phone, etc., while on
the clock, they are “trespassed” from the property permanently—hindering future employment hopes in the ;ield. Yes, the
safety of 170,000 people is a big deal.
How security of;icers appear is a cyclical shift, Suppe explains—police style shifts to plain clothes, then a high-pro;ile
incident takes place somewhere in the world and CES asks
that security personnel have a more tactical look.
It’s an ever-changing, partially psychological
strategy that affects the attendee experience—should they see
the law enforcement presence (and if so, how extreme?) or
is it better to have a wider force that’s invisible to visitors?
This year a developing innovation/threat demanded action from LVCC security. Drones being ;lown in a LVCC parking
lot had to be shut down because of the proximity to the airport.
Drones couldn’t be escaped at CES, though—this year saw a 487
percent increase in unmanned aerial vehicle-related exhibits. In
concert with the evolving regulations for drone use in the U.S.,
the in-your-face wow factor of such vehicles is of;icially toned
down here—exhibitors with drones had to ;ly them in netted
areas, as seen during the Intel keynote wherein a drone was part
of the show but sequestered from attendees with a giant, slightly obstructive net.
A delectable lunch at the LVCC-adjacent Westgate Las Vegas
Resort & Casino segues into three hours of wide-eyed ;loor time
in place this
to the high-profile attacks
that have taken
place at meeting and event
venues over the