Networking

The rallying point

What is the theme of the BISCI conference this year?\

Best international practices and emerging technologies, with a view to the unique challenges and opportunities we have in the Middle East region. Much emphasis is being placed globally (and in the Middle East) on “Smart Buildings, Green Buildings and Intelligent Buildings”, and the one thing they all have in common is that they need Information Transport Systems at the core of their design.

What are your objectives?

Primarily, the conference is held each year to support the hundreds of BICSI members and BICSI educated professionals, such as RCDD’s that we already have in the region.

But, in a broader sense we also hope to engage any professional from the Middle East who’s involved with the systems or infrastructure that transports information in commercial buildings or residences – such as audio, video, data, security or building environment. This is because our over-riding objective is to see international best practices being adopted here in the region.

What are you doing to promote standards and best practices in this region?

Some solid groundwork has already been done by the RCDD’s in the region, certain manufacturers and the more reputable installers here who already promote BICSI and following the standards guidelines.

The BICSI Conference, I have no doubt, will only build on what’s already been done. Especially after delegates experience first hand exactly how BICSI can raise the bar for all industry participants in this region.

This is because intrinsically BICSI is all about the promotion of standards and best practices. Let me elaborate:

Serving over 24,000 ITS professionals worldwide, including designers, installers and technicians, BICSI is a professional association supporting the information transport systems (ITS) industry with information, through conferences, workshops and publications and through an internationally recognised training programme.

Does BICSI offer its education and training programmes here?

Yes, but unfortunately this has been fairly limited in terms of what is available. So far the BICSI RCDD training has been the main focus of BICSI education, together with the other RCDD specialties such as NTS, OSP and WD accreditations. Much of the emphasis has been at this level, because the more “push” these people exert – in terms of assisting consultants and end users – the more I believe we will see the market start asking for other BICSI design and installation training.

As yet we do not have a locally based training vendor, and we have had to rely on contracting BICSI Master Instructors from abroad to fulfill this function.

How does BICSI add value when vendors have their own training programmes?

BICSI qualifications are recognized internationally, and it is understood that a BICSI certified person will have the ability to work with or on, most of the vendor products available in their specific region. Remember, vendor training ultimately has one objective and that is to get the listener to buy more products.

All BICSI training is generic and standards-based which means that all the information disseminated is 100% unbiased. There are no Vendor training programs that can boast the same.

Do customers seek certified installers?

In other parts of the world already the answer is a resounding YES. That’s because BICSI Certified commercial ITS installers have demonstrated their ability in the proper installation of cabling systems. But here in the Middle East, because we unfortunately don’t yet offer BICSI’s Technician training, the answer is no. I believe that if we had the ITS Installer training here we would certainly see a demand for it, as I have been asked the question by quite a few installation companies.

But it’s a different story when it comes to BICSI RCDD’s who are already very much in demand here in the Middle East. (I know of at least two mammoth government organizations in the region who will not even consider contracting any ITS companies unless they have an RCDD on board to manage the design and project management aspects of all work undertaken.)

Also, a trend that’s catching on here fast is RCDD staffing, where only these professionals are being considered as employable in certain private and governmental organizations.

How do you create awareness about good installation practices?

First and foremost this needs to come from Vendor training. Good quality products need to be installed properly in order for them to remain good quality products. Vendors need to have an active training program that includes onsite real-life inspections.

Companies with RCDD’s will generally offer good installation methods and practices, simply because their RCDD’s reputation is at stake. Because of their many years of hands on experience (a pre-requisite for all RCDD candidates) and specialized training, RCDD’s tend to take a very firm line when it comes to ‘best practices’. Then when their recommendations are discussed and perhaps even questioned (which they inevitably are) those working with an RCDD will quickly learn why BICSI information is so widely trusted worldwide.

When can we expect a local BICSI chapter?

This is a tricky one, because it all depends on the membership count in the region. We need at least 500 sustainable members before we qualify to have a BICSI funded Region.

The current situation is that BICSI HQ has combined all of Africa and the Middle East into one territory, which makes the MEA region quite interesting to manage.

What I think needs to happen, for BICSI to serve members in the region better, is that additional District offices in the Region (Districts require 100 sustainable members) need to be initiated, possibly in places such as Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Then, with their combined growth and some hard work in the UAE and surrounding countries, we will be much closer to realizing our dream of having a local BICSI office here.

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