With Paris Attacks in Mind, Consumer Electronics Show Tightens Security

The iconic tradeshow may not be in danger of any kind of terror threat, but the Consumer Technology Association, which organizes CES every year, isn't taking any chances. The moves drew mixed response.

Editor’s note: This article has been clarified to note the anticipated number of attendees for the 2016 edition of CES.

If a rolling bag is part of your tradeshow accessories, you’ll want to leave it at home for 2016’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show).

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) is banning this type of bag from the premises of the annual Las Vegas event, taking place January 6-9, and putting other restrictions in place, with the goal of enhancing security at the venue.

“We want a safe CES. The safety of our guests is a top priority,” Gary Shapiro, CTA’s president and CEO, said in a news release. “Our goal is for all of our guests—general attendees, exhibitors, and members of the media—along with show personnel, to have a productive, fun, and safe experience at CES while being sensitive to lines and inconvenience.”

The association is discouraging attendees from bringing in luggage of any kind and limiting the bags they may have inside the show space to two small ones. Exhibitors and credentialed press members, however, may request exceptions. But if you do bring a bag with you, it will take longer to get into the venue, since all bags will be searched. Organizers warn that security personnel will perform detailed checks, including metal detector screenings and patdowns, so they discourage people from bringing bags with a lot of pockets (like backpacks) and from wearing baggy clothing, as both will take more time to search.

And on top of the standard tech-heavy sights and scenes at the event—expect a lot of drones at this year’s event, for one thing—there will be another, more shocking one: police officers in tactical gear, accompanied by bomb-sniffing dogs.

Shapiro said the association was not aware of any specific threat against the tradeshow but upped security measures out of an abundance of caution.

“We greatly appreciate our guests’ patience as we work to maximize security and minimize hassle,” Shapiro said. “We want our attendees to conduct business and enjoy the magic and wonder of the next generation of technology innovation in a safe and secure environment.”

Mixed Response From Exhibitors, Attendees

The boost in security at the massive event—coming in the wake terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California—may not exactly be welcomed by attendees, however. The show was already known for its sea of lines even before enhanced security came into the picture.

“CES logistics were already tough before any security measures were contemplated. Nearly 200,000 people attend every year. It’s known as the show where you wait an hour just to hop a cab back to the hotel,” PCWorld Executive Editor Gordon Mah Ung noted.

(CES officials say that, contrary to Mah Ung’s assessment, the anticipated total for next year’s event is actually between 150,000 and 175,000.)

But some exhibitors, such as Colin Marshall, the CEO of Oomi by Fantem, say that the association is simply being “prudent” considering current realities.

“It’ll certainly be an inconvenience to a lot of the attendees, as well as the exhibitors, but I don’t think it will really impact the show too tremendously, or anybody’s ability to enjoy the great technology that’s there,” Marshall told the Chicago Tribune.

Since CTA’s announcement, news of a tragic incident on the Las Vegas Strip surfaced over the weekend. The incident—involving a woman who drove her vehicle through a large crowd on Sunday evening, killing one and injuring 36 others—initially was seen as a terrorism scare, due to the nature of the accident and the number of people harmed. However, police later determined that the suspect’s motive was not related to terrorism.

(David Becker/Getty Images)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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