In the days after September 11, New York's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center got a lot of network news visibility it obviously would rather not have had. On September 12, the building was commandeered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the mayor's office as a staging area for volunteers, relief workers, and search-and-rescue teams. It was also used as a counseling center for friends and relatives of those killed in the attack.

Incredibly, show schedules were not greatly disrupted. The National Merchandise Show was having its last day on the 11th, and most of the events through the end of the month were rescheduled for December. For example, the Audio Engineering Society, originally slated for September 21 to 23, moved to November 30 through December 3. Reed Exhibition's big InfoSecurity Conference and Exhibition went on as scheduled from December 4 to 6.

Even in the face of disaster, there has been good news coming out of the Javits. In October, for example, Las Vegas-based Smart City Networks became the official service provider for the center's telecommunications services suites. Known previously as “Laptop Lane,” the suites have been rechristened “My New York Office” and now feature private office space for show managers, exhibitors, event contractors, and attendees, and include phone, fax, printer, and T1-quality Internet connections for your laptop or a computer provided by Smart City. In addition, four conference rooms are available, each with seating for up to eight people.

Smart City is not the only vendor on the move at the Javits. New York-based MediaOnDemand.com has built a broadcast facility overlooking one of the main halls. The facility has the tools to produce live and on-demand multimedia Internet broadcasts as well as offer such prosaic services as videotaping, editing, and the ability to broadcast television transmissions from anywhere in the convention center. MediaOnDemand.com has also added direct satellite access for signals from all domestic C- and Ku-band satellites, plus selected international satellites.

Yet another in-house vendor with new services is PCS World Corp., a Reno, Nev.-based telecommunications service provider. The company's latest convenience item is called Express Phone Service: Exhibitors rent a wireless phone with a base that plugs into any electrical outlet in the facility; they get an instant dial tone, with no phone installer involved. This will come as a pleasant surprise to those used to paying for hard-wired phone installations requiring a phone installer (an installer whose hourly rates go up for those unwise enough to order an installation after 3 p.m.). A version of this service called Instant Internet lets you plug your computer modem into the wall and receive T1-quality wireless service. For those looking for conventional wired service, PCS World will install 100BaseT Fast Ethernet, T1 Network, or T1 Dedicated Network systems.

Beefed Up

Security at the 814,000-square-foot Javits Center has been improved. The biggest change show managers will see is in the floor plan review and approval process. They can anticipate that the center will be much stricter than it ever was regarding exit plans from the building. As a result, expect possible modifications in the placement of show registration counters, freestanding directional signs, and freestanding advertising displays.

Also, as a result of the terrorist attacks, 11th Avenue has been changed to handle two-way traffic; this may inhibit hand-carry operations. Finally, while the Center has always had its own staff of New York State police on hand, the number of officers has greatly increased.