GV Expo: Hitting the Show Floor

WASHINGTON — This is the time of year when everyone is making their Christmas shopping list. It’s also the time of year when government agencies make their own wish lists by visiting the annual Government Video Expo in Washington, D.C. And those exhibitors who showcase products focused on the acquisition, production and distribution of audio and video in the PEG sector keep coming back every year to cater to these customers.

One of the premier booths on the show floor is Communications Engineering Inc. (CEI), based in Newington, Va. “GV Expo is the first show that CEI ever did,” said John Wesley Nash, executive vice president and COO for the systems integrator. “We’ve grown to almost be the main booth at the show, and year after year it serves us well."

About 40 percent of CEI’s business comes from the public, education and government (PEG) sector so it’s natural for CEI to put a large emphasis efforts on the show. “It’s a show that’s allowed us to target a major portion of our clientele,” Nash said.

CEI is hosting 17 different companies in its booth this year and Nash said the company determines who is featured in their booth by their level of support in CEI’s government SI efforts, as well as “things we think the government should be looking at and would be important for their future.”

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Phil Owens

And lest you think that the show is all about video, CEI is hosting several audio companies in its booth this year, including Wheatstone, which is known for its pro audio products for radio and TV. This is the third time at the show for the company, which counts Voice of America and the U.S. Senate as its government customers. This year the focus is on audio over IP, according to Phil Owens, senior sales engineer for the New Bern, N.C.-based company. “Audio over IP is definitely the coming thing in audio distribution,” he said.

For those interested in acquisition, you can’t miss the JVC, Canon and Panasonic booths on the floor. This year, Panasonic is showcasing its new 4K UE70 PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom), the professional video industry’s first integrated 4K pan/tilt/zoom camera, delivering 3840 x 2160 resolution images at 29.97p/25p via HDMI, and also capable of 4K IP streaming and in-camera 4K recording.

Jim Wickizer, spokesman for Panasonic, said the company has been a supporter of GV Expo for the better part of the past decade. “It gives us great access to government agencies in the Washington area but you also see a lot of universities and some smaller production companies,” he said. “We bring a wide range of products because there’s a wide range of users attending.”

According to Dave Walton, assistant vice president of marketing for JVC, the PEG sector comprises a “pretty big chunk” of revenue for the company, adding that JVC brings almost the entire range of its cameras and monitors to GV Expo. “It’s like we’ve taken our NAB booth and compressed it,” he said. “This is a very important show for us.”

For video transport, one company that has returned to the show after a 10-year hiatus is Artel Video Systems, which is showcasing its fiber transport solutions. Artel acquired long-time GV Expo exhibitor Communications Specialties earlier this year, which helps explain why the company has returned. “The military and government markets are really good for us,” said Mike Fazzi, who joined Artel’s sales team after the acquisition. “A lot of government agencies are buying our products to transport audio and video data over fiber. We see a broad range of customers, from museums to NASA. Any agency, large campus environment, whether it’s educational or industrial, they all need to send video over fiber.”

Comrex is another long-time GV Expo exhibitor. Chris Crump, sales director for the Devens, Mass.-based provider of audio products and video over IP systems, says the show allows the company to showcase their products to those government agencies that may not be familiar with them. “A lot of them aren’t familiar with our video products and getting them acquainted with our video products is primarily the reason why we’re here.”

Among the products the company is showcasing is its LiveShot system, which delivers high-quality, low-latency live video and audio over a range of IP networks. The IP-ENG system is being used with Voice of America and the White House Communications Office, according to Crump, who adds that government agency’s requirements for handling video over IP can be very stringent. And perhaps that’s why the company is seeing more uptake on IP-based video in other areas of the PEG sector.

“We’re finding a lot of penetration with community access, which is a lot more open to [IP] than larger agencies, for example,” he said. “Even though they are a public entity, we’ve seen a lot more growth in smaller cable access than with agencies.”

But Crump adds that sending video over IP is the wave of the future. “Everything is moving to IP because of cost,” he said. “Microwave is not necessarily an option anymore because of the expense and logistics. And fiber may not have been as cost effective as it once was, so IP becomes more cost effective.”

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DJI holds a drone flight demo in the drone cage at the National Drone Show

A new addition to the show floor this year is the National Drone Show, which features a flying cage and UAV products from more than a dozen drone companies. Sponsored by Stampede, the show is designed to introduce government agencies to the utility and practicality of UAV technology. Eric Jameson, product manager for Stampede, said response has been “great.”

“We’re really excited to be here and we see this as a great opportunity for commercial AV integration companies to move into this category,” Jameson said. “We see this as a category of commercial AV, not as a separate industry. It’s going to be a booming industry over the next couple of years and this is the best time to get involved.”

Stampede offers a full “drone solution” for its customers, according to Jameson. “We’ve put together an entire solution that has not just the equipment but the add-ons, the professional services and the command and control features,” he said. “It’s all available and on display here and we’ve had tremendous interest. And the cage always draws a crowd.”

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