The big geographical difference


The big difference between last year’s #CyberFest and this year’s is that it is all online. Of the ten events, only the final one has any degree of onsite presence and this is only due to its content. The final conference will reveal a piece of collaborative artwork, bringing a different perception to cybersecurity, a cultural one rather than purely technical. I feel it will be best to have some people there to witness the birth of a new creation. Safely distanced of course, all of the speakers and artists will be onsite. It should be a great event and round off this year’s series nicely.

And what a difference it has been  Not having any physical locations to worry about has been liberating in one sense. There has been no need to worry about things such as access, parking, directions or catering. All of this will now be in cyberspace, apart from catering which will be down to the discretion of the delegate. It has also meant that speakers don’t have to travel, they can present from anywhere with a decent broadband connection.

On the other hand the lack of the physical has been restrictive. #CyberFest is very much a North East event and In past years I have tried to spread the event geographically, with something always in Northumberland and on Teesside and all the bits in between. Also the speakers have tended to be from the region, or at least related to it in some way and these attributes have been difficult to replicate in a series of events that can be viewed from anywhere.

Yet this many again be liberating. The main aim of #CyberFest, the North East’s biggest cybersecurity festival, is to show that the region has a thriving industry community and that it can compete on the world stage. Taking location out of the equation may allow us to spread our message in a way that restricting the events to specific buildings may not. 

We have always had the ambition to hold North East cybersecurity events in other regions, such as London or Edinburgh and this may help us to realise our dreams. 

It could be that COVID-19, having forced us to be more creative in our approach, will help us to achieve our long term goals much sooner. Tickets are ‘selling’ well (they are free) yet it won’t be until after it is all over that we can do the analysis. Let’s see, but fingers crossed.

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