18 January, 2023

From Sprinkler Systems to Cybersecurity, Future Global Challenges in Focus on Day Two of Safety, Security, and Fire Protection Trade Fair

Three-day show at DWTC raises questions of future construction, highlights cybersecurity developments, and sees UAE sign important MoU with China’s HIK Vision

Dubai, UAE: The future of fire safety, security, and protection came under the microscope on the second day of Intersec, the 24th edition of the world’s leading trade fair for safety, security, and fire protection, as global challenges related to everything from sprinkler systems to cybersecurity were explored on another engaging day of sessions spanning 48,000sqm of Dubai World Trade Centre.

Bringing together more than 800 exhibitors from 55 countries, this year’s show – running from January 17-19 – includes a Fire and Rescue Conference. Susan Lamont, Director of Fire Safety at Arup, featured on a Day Two panel exploring the relationship between security and sustainability during the industry’s journey towards net zero.

Following a fascinating presentation by Peter Stephenson, Director – Fire Safety Division Middle East, Hydrock, in which he focused on the importance of creating a robust fire strategy for buildings, Lamont raised a thought-provoking point regarding future construction works. 

“What do we do with basement parking structures now?” she asked, sat alongside Vinay Deshpande, Technical Director of Fire & Life Safety at WSP, and Steven Reilly, Principal Engineer, Fire & Life Safety Lead MENA at Cundall. “What sprinkler systems and what density of sprinkler should we be installing when we know, over the course of the lifetime of the building, it will be filled with either electric vehicles or hydrogen-fuelled vehicles?”

Dave Fuller, VP Approvals Manager, Fire Protection, FM Approvals, then proceeded to outline the need to remove human-led testing, detailing a series of catastrophic situations that could have been avoided through a series of new technologies.

“The common theme in all these is that we are relying on human-led inspections when the systems are not being maintained correctly,” Fuller said, adding that 60 per cent of fire safety failures are due to manually closed valves and that sprinkler systems have barely evolved in 150 years.

Automated testing of fire pumps and a remote fire watch system that monitors hot work areas constantly for at least four hours post-heat to detect potentially smouldering fires are just two innovations that are growing in presence, he said.

Exhibiting for the past seven years is Bristol Fire Engineering who are the leading fire-fighting solutions provider for more than four decades. Bodour Alnimer, the company’s Project Development Manager, revealed his firm had chosen Intersec to display a new series of emergency service vehicles.

“Intersec has been beneficial to us as it is a chance to meet up with our worldwide partners outside the UAE,” he said. “We are also having a lot of face-to-face meetings with customers and of course to have some new leads. We recently introduced a line of customised fire trucks and ambulances with innovative features that match the requirements of the current market, so are delighted to showcase these here this year.”


IT, OT, and the Cyber Defence Cycle

Meanwhile, the Cybersecurity Stage featured a panel discussion between specialists from different industries sharing the same challenges in their field. Shahab Siddiqui from Petrofac, Andres Desa from Mubadala Investment Company, Biju Hameed from Dubai Airports, and Hamad Saeed Husain Abdulrahman from King Hamad University Hospital all took part in a discussion surrounding the challenges faced when converging worlds – in this case information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) – collide.

While IT is a comprehensive phrase that refers to endpoint devices such as computers, servers, software, data processing and everything else contained within, in a production context, OT oversees managing and controlling systems.

“Threats seen in environments that have OT are pretty much static and won’t have any changes as dynamic as the IT environment,” Desa, the Head of Cybersecurity Audit at Mubadala, said. “That is why I believe asset network monitoring works wonderfully in an OT environment.”

Speaking about the importance of a necessary incidence response strategy, Desa outlined the four specific parts of an active cyber defence cycle – Asset identification, network security monitoring, incident response, and threat and environment manipulation. “The importance of incidence response cannot be underestimated because it should come as no surprise that, at some point, every organisation is faced with a threat,” he said.

A key exhibitor returning to Intersec this year after its first visit in 2018 is SPIRE Solutions, the Middle East and Africa’s leading cybersecurity solution provider and value-added distributor (VAD). Known for solving current and emerging challenges with exclusive distribution rights for some of the world’s best-known solution providers, it has in the past few months been exploring quantum-safe encryption and AI firewalling, a concept SPIRE introduced to the region.

“We are also the only people talking about AI-driven data classification,” said Prasanth Prasad, Business Unit Head at SPIRE Solutions. “Intersec this year has given us a platform to start many conversations with potential customers and we are very excited to be exhibiting this year again.”

Alex Nicholl, Portfolio Director at Messe Frankfurt Middle East, the event organisers, added: “It’s great to see so many exhibitors gaining real value once again at Intersec. The show’s second day featured a strong focus on finding solutions to future challenges, be that through debate and discussion, partnerships, or product showcases. With more than 800 exhibitors here, this year's show is proving a fantastic opportunity for the entire industry to come together.”


Surveillance and Cyber-Learning

Day Two of Intersec, which among its key partners count the UAE Cyber Security Council, Dubai Electronic Security Centre (DESC), and Huawei, also featured the historic signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the UAE Ministry of Interior and Chinese state-owned video surveillance company HIK Vision. Under the terms of the MoU, which was signed by Brigadier Ahmed Humeid Al Suwaidi from the Ministry of Interior, and Xi Ming Xu, Senior Vice President at HIK Vision, the two parties will work together to develop solutions that will benefit and maintain the safety of residents and visitors to the Emirates.

DESC, as the main regulator and facilitator of cybersecurity in Dubai, also showcased its partnership with Thales Group, an international leader in cybersecurity, as well as its establishment of a Cyber-Node programme dedicated to training, testing, and experimentation. The partnership has also led to an innovation centre for cyber-learning, with the new facility providing support in the advancement of Dubai’s mission to be the safest city in cyberspace. Its online DCIPark platform provides access to bespoke cybersecurity courses tailored to different industry needs.