Nearly 2,000 people attended the 2003 VDV/Integrated Building Systems Conference and Expo, held at the Las Vegas Hilton, March 10-12.

Sponsored by the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), Bethesda, Md., the conference offered courses in network design and cabling, access control, security, audio/video, protocols, standards, power quality, estimation and project management. Six other seminars covered home networking technology.

At the conference's opening general session, Ed Hill, international president of the IBEW, announced a new agreement in which installers of low-voltage systems, an entirely separate skill from traditional electrical work, will receive 75 percent of journeyman wiremen's pay, along with other union benefits. The agreement includes a portability clause, allowing low-voltage installers, from locals outside a particular jurisdiction to work on projects without any interference. A similar program for residential installations is also in place. The intent is to allow the IBEW members and NECA contractors to compete more effectively for the installation of VDV systems in intelligent buildings and smart homes.

IBEW and a panel of industry leaders also presented a new certification program for measuring the competence of low-voltage system installers, including the ability to provide (software) integration services. The Certified Systems Technician, Accredited and Registered (C-STAR) program was launched at the conference, and a non-profit organization to direct this accreditation effort was formally created at the meeting.

NECA and its partners expanded the focus of the VDV Expo this year by adding Integrated Building Systems (IBS) to the title, and the show is now known as the VDV/IBS Conference and Expo. This name change recognizes and promotes the advantage of the electrical contractor providing the communications and control cabling system in buildings and facilities, along with the electric power installation.

NECA plans to hold the 2004 VDV/IBS Conference and Expo in the same location March 10-12, 2004.