January 18th, 2018

Strong security includes good integrated systems – video, indoor gunshot detection, alerts – backed up by well-thought out policies.

Those are great and crucial elements, but have you considered your physical space?

Good security planning starts in the construction of design phase. Some elements to consider:

Getting in, getting out. Are primary entrances and exits for each building located where employees have easy access to secure from the inside? In an emergency, employees should be able to quickly access doors and secure them from the inside.

What about secondary entrances and exits? Employees should also have access to secondary exits that lead into more secure interior spaces in the event of an emergency.

Safe rooms. Does your facility have one secure room large enough to accommodate several staff and guests in an emergency? Walls should be reinforced so bullets can’t pass through. Door frames and doors should be strong enough to take a battering and not cave in or break open.

Reliable communications. Safe rooms and other key areas should be equipped with landline phones that can be used for emergency calls. While mobile phones are ubiquitous, they might not be able to get a strong enough signal in some places to reach out in the event of an emergency.

Keeping an eye on things. Video camera placement is key. For all facilities, cameras should be trained on entrances and exits, high traffic areas and parking areas. For retail facilities, cameras might be positioned to keep an eye on merchandise and cash registers. Manufacturers and warehouses might need to keep an eye on loading docks. All camera placement should be well-thought out and well-documented in facility schematics.

Make space for the home team, and a traveling team, too. If on-site monitoring and security is in your plans, make sure the team is placed appropriately within the space. But don’t forget to include provisions for off-site, remote monitoring, too.

Need help designing and documenting your new build’s security features? We can help. Call us at (800) 567-1180 to discuss your goals.

December 6th, 2017

As 2017 winds down, trend watchers are looking ahead to 2018 and thinking about the trends taking shape. Artificial Intelligence is top of mind for many.

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI), and what is the difference between AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning? According to techopedia, “Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans.” AI computers might be used for speech recognition, learning, planning and problem solving.

Machine Learning takes AI a step further, allowing computers to be challenged by and learn from new scenarios for testing and adaptation. The goal is for the machines to use pattern recognition and trend detection to “learn” so that it can make independent decisions about similar situations in the future.

Deep Learning collects what Machine Learning computers have learned and uses those algorithms to develop larger networks that mimic the high-powered decision-making capability of the human brain.

AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning all have significant potential for real-world application, particularly in video security.

The boom in digital video means a voluminous amount of data is available to analyze. Couple that data with more data available via API – weather data, financial data, etc. – and the possibilities for pulling together patterns and making predictions is nearly endless.

“While the technologies aren’t particularly new, this year they have more than ever captured the attention of the market due to various factors: an increase in data that’s available for meaningful analysis, the emergence of hardware devices with high computing power, as well as the maturity of networking infrastructure for both landline and wireless transmissions,” wrote William Pao of a&s International in a recent post on asmag.com.

Some are predicting a boom in AI-driven analysis. “The next step in video analytics is to dive deeper to gain very specific insights into video content, including analyzing human behavior through the use of neural network video analysis. Video will not only be used to track the usual movement of cars and people or detect items left behind, but will also be relied on more frequently to bring behaviors of interest to the attention of security personnel,” said Jammy DeSousa, Senior Product Manager for Security Products for Building Technologies and Solutions at Johnson Controls in the post.

Others are slightly more conservative in their outlook. “Machine or deep-learning is mostly used for video analytics, but I expect the technology will be an important component in many different applications and products in the future. Over time it will become a common tool for software engineers and will be included in many different environments and devices,” said Johan Paulsson, CTO of Axis Communications in the post. “However, the surveillance industry has a history of sometimes over-promising with video analytics, and we are especially conscious of that when it comes to deep learning. We think deep learning has to mature further before it is ready for market in a broader perspective.”

Interested in learning more about new products and integrations on the horizon for 2018? Contact us at (800) 567-1180.

October 26th, 2017

Maybe you’re getting ready to dive into a new build, and you want to make sure all you are designing, installing and documenting the best building control systems for your new facility.

Maybe you’ve just moved in to a new-to-you location, and you’re not quite sure what/when/where/why/how all of the building systems were installed or how they work together.

Maybe you’ve been in your current facility for a long time, and you’ve added building systems over the years, but you are not sure you’ve got what you need in place, and you’re not sure everything is working together at peak efficiency.
Whatever your reason, it’s always a good idea to approach your facility’s HVAC, security and safety systems as a design project, and not simply discrete equipment purchases. Unlike other elements of your facility – like floors and walls – these are “living” systems that grow and change over time.

Innovation brings new changes every year, and each new piece of equipment you introduce to any of these systems has the potential to bring both benefits and risks. For instance, a new badge system might bring additional capabilities, but your current IT infrastructure may not be able to fully integrate with it and take advantage of all its features.

ECT Services offers complete end to end design services for all types of building systems. What are the benefits of using design services? Here are a few:
You’ll get a fresh, complete set of plans that tells you exactly what you have. A complete set of plans will help you make adjustments to the system later, and help you upgrade or add on to systems with confidence.

You’ll know why you’ve got what you’ve got, and how it all works together. We can translate your requirements into systems that meet your needs while maximizing efficiency.

Stronger security. End-to-end system design helps identify security gaps and risks, reducing vulnerabilities and system failures.

Take full advantage of the latest IoT opportunities. Internet of Things innovation means more opportunity than ever before to monitor and analyze systems for business benefit. But all that opportunity goes to waste if systems aren’t designed to support devices and collect and manage the data. Well-designed systems maximize opportunities to get the most out of the data offered up by IoT devices.
Want to learn more about system design services? Call (800) 567-1180.

September 14th, 2017

Security systems and communications systems used to be two entirely different propositions.


Security teams were responsible for evaluating and procuring video cameras, ID badge systems and the like for their particular use cases. They oversaw the installation and use of those systems, and owned any associated data.

Communications systems were typically owned by IT teams. They evaluated and procure phone and conferencing systems for their particular use cases; oversaw the installation and use, and owned any associated data from those systems.

Security and communications systems operated differently, with no connection, often on entirely different networks.

All that is changing. The move away from analog systems to digital was the first step towards converging security and communications systems. The next step is figuring out how to make disparate IT and security systems work together and exchange data.
Through its DevConnect program, Avaya, a segment leader in communications systems, has opened the door to convergence a little more. The program empowers partners to create, verify and market Avaya-enabled solutions. DevConnect offers access to almost all SDKs offered by Avaya products, as well as technical education, tutorials and sample applications, forums, and in some cases, technical developer support on the use of Avaya APIs.

Axis, an ETC Services partner and market leader in security systems, is an active participant in Avaya’s DevConnect program. Through the partnership, they’ve developed integrations between their Network Door Stations and Avaya systems. Axis Network Door stations combine communication, video surveillance and remote entry control into a single device, and allows users to identify visitors and grant them access to a facility from a single platform, from anywhere in the world.

Perhaps more powerfully, converging the security and communications systems means data can be combined. Security data that was once entirely separate can now be integrated with other data streams and used for other business purposes, extending the value.

For more on how Avaya and Axis are partnering together, listen to this episode from the Avaya DevConnect 8 & Out podcast.

August 30th, 2017

Consumers have been diving into the internet of things (IoT) via connected devices for quite some time. Most of us sport a fitness device of some sort that collects our health data – activities, heart rate, sleep patterns and more – and records and reports it out over time. We check our smart devices to see what the temp is in our homes, and make adjustments if necessary. We log into our computers to check our security cameras and see if a package has arrived, or whether or not the dog has jumped up on the sofa (again!)

Many businesses have taken advantage of the IoT wave, too. Connected systems that control HVAC, video and security are increasingly common.

Even getting a drink in a restaurant is an IoT experience. Coke Freestyle machines don’t just allow customers to mix their own special drink, they track pump performance and automatically replenish syrup. Data is collected from each machine worldwide so Coca Cola can track trends.

While the IoT is certainly far from tapped out in the consumer sector, applications are gaining steam in the industrial sector, too. Connected devices, equipment and systems are helping manufacturers gain efficiencies in resource allocation, production processes, materials handling and the workforce.

Why does the IoT matter to your business or organization?

Data. From HVAC monitoring to tracking customer patters to keeping tabs on staff, the IoT enables organizations of any size to readily access data for smart decision-making.

Security. Organizations will need to be more cognizant than ever of what devices are connected and how they are connected. Risks extend beyond exposing customer data or some other immediate breach. Last year, hackers used unsecured video cameras to launch a DDoS attack that nearly brought down some of the Internet’s most popular sites, including Twitter and Spotify. Such attacks may open up the possibility of liability for companies that fail to secure devices.

Consumer expectations. The more consumers come to rely on the IoT, the more it will shape their expectations of the services they receive from business, government and other organizations.

Need to know more about how to connect and automate your building systems? Call (800) 567-1180 to talk to a member of our team.

August 7th, 2017

On August 21, the United States will experience a solar eclipse. The path of totality where the sun will be completely eclipsed will cut a 70-mile wide swath from Oregon in the Pacific Northwest to Charleston, SC on the Southeast Atlantic coast.

The path will cut through West Kentucky, with the city of Hopkinsville serving as the epicenter of the eclipse. The point of greatest eclipse – where the sun, moon and earth align perfectly – will take place over Hopkinsville for two minutes and forty seconds at 2:24:41 pm ET on the day of the eclipse.

The last time the U.S. experienced an eclipse of this magnitude was nearly 100 years ago, in 1918.

The eclipse will be a scientific and educational boon, and it will certainly be an economic boon to the areas in the path of totality, particularly Hopkinsville.

What will the eclipse mean in terms of the power grid? Safety and security?

States that rely heavily on solar power will see a significant impact, according to a report in Energy Manager Today. California, North Carolina, Utah and Nevada are all expected to be impacted.

The effect of the eclipse will be the equivalent of shutting down several nuclear reactors at once, according to the report. Fortunately, most customers shouldn’t have any interruptions in service. Utilities have had plenty of time to prepare and test systems, and systems have multiple redundancies built in. That, coupled with the rolling nature of the event should mean the lights remain on even when it grows dark around mid-afternoon.

Communities in the path of totality are expecting significant infrastructure implications. Hopkinsville could more than double its population for the day. All those out of town visitors will rely on apps on their smartphones to navigate and communicate. The increased traffic will surely overwhelm cell towers. In anticipation, additional temporary cell towers are being added.

Traffic is also expected to be a problem, with last minute visitors clogging I-24 and the Pennyrile Parkway. The region doesn’t boast nearly enough beds to accommodate the influx of visitors, so temporary campgrounds are being set up in vacant fields and porta potties are being brought in to address sanitary concerns. Since the late August weather could be hot and steamy, cooling stations are being set up at key areas, too.

EMS responders are training, and officials are considering National Guard support as well.
The takeaway for businesses? Preparation and communication are key for remaining steady during significant events that are beyond your control. Coordination among businesses, government agencies and other partners is key.

February 3rd, 2017

Are you retrofitting an existing building with a new security system? Or perhaps you are embarking on a new construction project, which will include integrated building controls?
Maybe you’ve already put a great deal of thought into your system needs, and perhaps you’ve even done some research into the products and features you want, and discussed your vision with your architect.
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Those are great first steps. Being an informed consumer is always an excellent idea, and working with a knowledgeable professional is well worth the investment of time and other resources.

But when it comes to specialized systems such as access control, temperature control, security and building integration, and additional level of expertise is necessary, too. With the introduction if the Internet of Things, system complexity is increasing exponentially. Having these types of systems designed by someone who specializes in them will ensure quality and performance, and reduce the risk that systems won’t perform up to full potential due to design flaws.

ECT Services will partner with your architect to design and draw a plan for your temperature control, building integration, security and other systems. We don’t compete with your architect; we complement their services for maximum value.

Our design engineers track every element of the systems they design – down to the last plug and screw – and deliver clear, precise, detailed drawings. If design elements are changed during the building process, we update the plans accordingly, so changes can be tracked later.

What does that mean for you? It means updating, expanding and troubleshooting systems will be a much easier process later on, even years after installation. It means you’ll know exactly what elements are included in your system, and you’ll have a complete picture of how they all work together.

Interested in learning more? Call us at (800) 567-1180 to discuss your needs.