Tri-Ed Roadshow: Worth Going to?

By Ethan Ace, Published Aug 19, 2012, 08:00pm EDT

Single day, touring 'roadshows' promise an easy way to learn about new security technology without having to travel far. In the US, one of the most aggressive roadshow operators is Tri-Ed [link no longer available], a national distributor. Since Tri-Ed / Northern has a reputation as a low end provider [link no longer available], we were especially curious to see how sophisticated or advanced the training would be. In this note, we recap the Tri-Ed event we attended.

Overview

The Tri-Ed road show had a small exhibit hall in a larger conference room, as well as one Tri-Ed and sever manufacturer-run break out "educational" sessions. We estimate about 100 to 150 attendees, most seemed to be alarm installers or dealers plus a small number of end users.

The exhibit hall was not flashy. Each vendor was given a single small table on which to present their product. Manufacturers represented included Bosch, Pelco, Panasonic, CNB, HID, and a number of others, about 20 total. Booths were staffed by a mix of manufacturer's reps and factory staff, though all that we spoke to were generally knowledgeable. Traffic was light at the exhibits each time we visited and by afternoon, many booth staffers sat and talked to each other.

Most educational sessions were run by manufacturers, with a single session in the morning run by Tri-Ed staff. The sessions we sat in on were relatively well-attended, 60% full or more, with the morning Tri-Ed session being fullest, requiring a second room to handle overflow.

Training Sessions

We found that the descriptions of the sessions given on the event page were largely inaccurate. For example, the first session, run by Tri-Ed, was described as

IP Video & Network Training: During this course we will cover the following: Resolution, Networking Types, Camera Selection Criteria, Recording Selection Criteria, Switches, PoE and Storage Options

While all these topics were discussed, in 90 minutes, they were covered at a very high level, more as a quick overview to the uninitiated than a real training. We discuss this session in more detail below.

Another session, titled "Migrating from Analog to IP", was expected to cover the process of taking over an analog camera system, or upgrading it to IP. Instead, it covered, again at a high level, the benefits of IP video compared to analog. While nothing discussed was outright wrong, we expect integrators other than those with no IP experience would gain little from attending it.

Tri-Ed Session

Though very high-level, the morning Tri-Ed session could serve as a useful overview for those unfamiliar with IP.

One of the only truly objectionable points made during this presentation was the recommendation that only surveillance-specific recording appliances be used, with Intransa and Seneca (two lines carried by Tri-Ed) specifically mentioned. The presenter insisted that COTS servers such as Dell and HP, while they use the same components, may not handle the same throughput as surveillance-focused servers, due to their configuration for general data tasks. Our experiences, and integrator consensus, say that this is simply incorrect. This was an obvious plug for Tri-Ed products, and especially misleading given the less sophisticated audience, who may take this advice to heart, not knowing any better.

Conclusion

The Tri-Ed roadshow is likely most useful for those with little to no IP surveillance experience. The general overview offered (which we expect changes little from show to show) is a decent introduction to IP for analog installers. Additionally, since exhibit traffic is light, integrators such as these may be able to speak to attending manufacturers practically as long as they like. However, for those seeking new products or to meet with manufacturers, the roadshow offers nowhere near the breadth of product or depth of knowledge of the major shows. At best, it may offer an opportunity to catch up with existing regional manufacturer reps.

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