Niagara Gazette

October 21, 2013

K-9s to headline at Falls technology forum

Special to the Gazette
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Attendees at the 13th annual Technology & Homeland Security Forum are already up on languages like Java, SQL, Python and ASP.NET. 

But this year, the only languages that some of their presenters are familiar with are Alpo and Milk Bone.

That’s because this year, the Niagara Falls-based Technology & Homeland Security Forum — long a fall staple in Western New York and the Greater Toronto Area — is going to the dogs. The police dogs.

Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour confirmed that three of his K9 officers—Sarge, Taz, and Vedder — will be on hand at the Thursday conference, along with their human handlers, Sgt. James Hildreth, and Deputies Craig Beiter and Sean Furey.

“Our working dogs may seem low-tech at first, but they are trained to be the most effective tools available for narcotics detection, tracking, building and area searches, explosive detection and criminal apprehension,” Voutour said. “The Technology & Homeland Security Forum has always stressed a number of security issues, and we welcome the opportunity to demonstrate some of our leading-edge systems we utilize to keep the public safe. And no systems are more important than the flesh-and-blood ones.”

As in past years, the forum will be heavy with technology, with speakers from the FBI focusing in on “Cyber Threat Awareness” to kick off a day of morning and afternoon class sessions at Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel. 

More than 60 top industry vendors offering hardware, software, training and various other services will be on hand. Industry giant Microsoft will close out the day with a detailed class on Windows Server 2012 R2.

“This is our 13th year sponsoring an event that is focused on protecting systems and people against vulnerabilities and threats in an increasingly interconnected world,” said Larry Helwig, Niagara County information technology director and the forum organizer. “Like the sheriff, we’re focused on safety and security. We’re also trying to help colleagues in IT and related fields meet their continuing education requirements.”

The forum will, as in past years, count as six continuing professional education hours toward ISC2 and ISACA certifications.

The forum is free and doesn’t cost Niagara County anything to present. According to Helwig, it is a collaborative effort by Niagara County, the Erie and Niagara local emergency planning committees, the InfraGard Buffalo Members Alliance and infoTech Niagara.

The forum “benefits our region as a whole by giving local private and public-sector employers a chance to access employee training for their IT and security professionals at no cost,” he said.

This year’s class topics include “Cloud Backup: Optimizing Data Backups and Recover in the Cloud,” “Implementing an ICS-Based Incident Response Plan,” “Developing the Organization’s Security Posture,” “Intelligent IP-Based Physical Security and Access Control Systems,” “Hazmat Awareness Overview for Businesses and Communities” and “Defending Cyber Attacks.”

In addition to their K9s, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office will present a class on the GIS mapping system. The Niagara County Department of Health will offer a class on tracking and reuniting pets with their owners during disasters.

The targeted audience for the forum includes decision-makers in information technology, information assurance, homeland security and corporate security. The 2012 forum had more than 350 attendees from throughout the region, representing local, state and federal government, school districts, colleges, small business owners, local company IT staff, health care professionals, banks and financial institutions, utilities and law firms.

The conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday at the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel, 310 Fourth St., Niagara Falls.

Pre-registration is required and can be completed at

For more information, call 439-7048.