Great Emphasis on Digitalisation and Data Security

19th Mar, 2018

The rented hall space is a key figure for success in the trade fair business.

Perhaps there will soon be another key figure too: the ordered data transmission rate. The more megabits per second, the faster the information transfer. And it is not even IT events that are at the top here. "Events of large automotive manufacturers, for example, very often require large data volumes, for connections to company headquarters, or production", states Stefan Schwarz, Head of Exhibition Management at Berner Elektrotechnik, a service partner of Messe Stuttgart. But the requirement for large bandwidths, superfast and completely secure network connections now cuts across all industries. "These include trade fairs such as AMB, Blechexpo, didacta, the trade fair for education and training, CMT, PTC, the Spirit of Life Plus, but also start-up trade fairs too", adds Schwarz, mentioning other customers to whom he, together with his employees, provides equipment on behalf of Messe Stuttgart. "For instance, for high-tech trade fairs there are some companies who would like to have a connection from the exhibition stand to their own IT systems of production in order to be able to show the trade fair visitors the production in operation live at the trade fair. During medical congresses we often have live transmissions to operating theatres."

Berner Elektrotechnik has been a service partner of Messe Stuttgart since 1989 and is always available on site with its own Business Centre at the Entrance East. This facilitates coordination with Messe Stuttgart's internal IT department. There the investments are put into secure and high-performance systems. The responsibility for this lies with Rudolf Anders, Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Messe Stuttgart: "At the start of 2016 we implemented a new WLAN, LAN and Internet technology with which we are leading the way not only in the trade fair business. When selecting the network technology for us it was important that it is not only extremely fast, but that it should be service- and solution-oriented, as well as future-proof", states Anders.

A 4th generation wireless structure won the bid. "Using the latest central channel technology according to AC standard for WLAN we can guarantee a data transmission rate of 1300 Mbit per second. Any faster is not possible due to technical limitations", is how the CIO explains the benefits of the system. A superfast WLAN is available to exhibitors, also with many parallel users and between the halls. The exhibitor's own equipment can be easily integrated in the existing WLAN structure. It can be provided unencrypted and on a WPA2 Enterprise basis, the highest possible encryption rate. Media representatives also surf the web at high speed. Visitors of in-house events can go online and use up to 100 MB per day free of charge. The organiser can also offer this service for guest events.

But it is not only the WLAN network that delivers remarkable performance, the LAN structure of Messe Stuttgart was also raised to a new level. It has a completely redundant backbone. This means there are two times two data centres, whose external connection runs via various local networks, namely over the network of the Stuttgart district Fasanenhof and over the network of Leinfelden-Echterdingen. The signal strength is controlled based on requirement across 52 halls and 7,680 service distributors. The power supply runs via UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply). In the case of an extended downtime operation is thus guaranteed for one hour without batteries. A highlight of the system, however, is the fourfold obstacle against hacker attacks. "Many large companies in Germany still operate a twofold system", states Anders with surprise. "But this is easily hacked. We asked a professional hacker to overcome our obstacles in a so-called 'penetration test'. He only managed to get past level two. This does not leave us open to blackmail, for instance with Trojans, and our customers can rest assured that nobody can intercept their data."

The team of Berner Elektrotechnik finds out how high the customer expectations are almost daily in direct exchange with the customers themselves. "Every company that has 4.0 network technology expects the same standard from us. The same encryption pattern is desired and a 'tunnel' through the Internet via two firewalls that nobody from the outside can penetrate. This guarantees absolutely secure machine-to-machine communication", is how Schwarz describes his customers' wishes. What happens to the customer and visitor data acquired at Messe Stuttgart is checked in annual audits by an external auditing firm such as KPMG or TÜV Rhineland and other institutions.

The issue of data security at Messe Stuttgart is a relevant topic for customers. No distinction is made between guest or in-house events when it comes to the procedure. "For us there is essentially only one standard and that is the same for all events", highlights Stefan Lohnert, Vice President, Guest Events at Messe Stuttgart. "With our new network technology we can really score well in corresponding inquiries. This is an important decision-making criterion for event organisers."

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