February 20th, 2019

It might seem fundamental, but controlling access to doorways into and through your facility might just be the most important security decision you make. Doors are the primary way people and goods move through your building, and the ability to control when, where and how people move through doorways is key to security.

How have you chosen to secure the doors in and through your facility? Let’s review some basic tools:

Keycard access.

Physical keys. Humans have been securing doorways with rudimentary pins and locks since the technology first emerged in ancient Mesopotamia around 4,000 years ago. Physical keys are simple and reliable; you must have the correct key to fit into a correct lock to gain entry.

Some of the problems with keys are as old as the technology itself. Keys can be lost, leading to costly replacement of both locks and keys. Keys can also be duplicated fairly inexpensively, making it easy for access to quickly become uncontrolled.

Other problems are fairly new. Keys don’t enable any level of sophisticated tracking, which is a feature we’ve come to expect in the modern world. They don’t reveal exactly who operated the key, when they accessed the door, or when they left. They only allow a door to be locked and unlocked.

Even so, a traditional key and lock may be an adequate solution for doors which require some access control but don’t require a great deal of sophistication.

Keypads. Keypads work much the same as a physical lock and key, but rather than require a physical key to open the user must enter the correct code to gain entry. Codes can be shared among many users, making it simple to allow access to a number of people. Codes can also be changed regularly, maintaining some level of access control without the expense of changing locks and keys.

These same features can also be a drawback. Codes can be distributed too widely, allowing access to the wrong people. Changing codes can cause people who should have access to suddenly not have access.

Much as with traditional locks and keys, keypads don’t necessarily track who has entered and exited a doorway.

Even with the limitations noted, keypads may be an adequate solution for areas that don’t require a significant level of security but do require broad access.

Keycards. Keycards step up the sophistication considerably and solve a number of challenges posed by traditional and keypad locks. Users present a unique keycard before a reader at the door way. The reader scans the information encoded in the card and verifies whether or not the holder of the card should be allowed access.

Keycards tighten access considerably and are easily activated and deactivated without disruption to other keycard users. Keycard systems also enable sophisticated tracking, allowing managers to gain valuable insights into how people move through a facility.

Biometric access. Fingerprint scanning and facial recognition take security to an even higher level, and overcome some of the challenges posed by loss, theft or damage of other access control systems.

These options represent a broad range of solutions available to secure doorways. Options are available along every price point and need, and systems can be integrated and customized to fit your use case perfectly. Need help navigating your way through access control options? We have decades of experience and a expertise in the latest, most innovative products. Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation today.

February 5th, 2019

Did last year’s tax overhaul benefit your business? Do you now have more capital to invest in improvements? If you’ve been holding off on green investments because you are concerned about the short-term cost, now may be the time to consider taking the plunge.

If you invested in green energy upgrades in 2018 – installing solar, geothermal, or wind to power your business – you might qualify for up to a 30 percent corporate tax credit rebate on your investment.

If you are considering installing green energy options, you’ll want to consider acting quickly because tax credits will be diminishing over the next several years.

According to the schedule posted on energy.gov, solar projects will be eligible for up to 30 percent corporate tax credits through 2019, will drop to 26 percent in 2020, and 22 percent in 2021. Geothermal projects are reimbursable up to 10 percent, and that credit for certain projects will go away after 2021.

The credit has been around for more than a decade, and the program has overgone significant changes several times. Currently, building owners in the commercial, industrial, utilities and agricultural sectors can take advantage of the credits. The credits are only available to those who originate the use of the green energy – you can’t simply buy energy from a green supplier – and must be installed by qualified contractors and meet certain standards for quality.

The use of this tax credit can be combined with other credits, too, to maximize benefits. Check with your tax professional for details. You might be able to quickly redeem some of the upfront investment in green energy, and also see reduced energy costs long term as well.

Interested in learning more about how your green energy efforts can be tied together with integrated building solutions? We’re leaders in innovative building integration and we can help. Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation today.

January 24th, 2019

In January 2017, five vacationers lost their lives in a shooting in a baggage claim area at Ft. Lauderdale’s airport. The violent act robbed travelers nationwide of their sense of peace.

Two years later, authorities at the Abilene Regional Airport are hoping to restore some peace to travelers with the installation of the Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System.

Don Green, director of transportation services for the airport, became interested Guardian after the Ft. Lauderdale airport

“I think this is a good system to have,” said Green. “It provides a little bit of extra confirmation that something is happening in the terminal and gives you at least a few seconds at least head-start in response.”

Guardian uses acoustic and infrared sensors to detect the sound and flash of gunshots. If a gunshot is detected, Guardian immediately alerts authorities, cutting response time significantly. Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System also integrates with other building systems like door locks, video and communication systems to identify a shooter’s location and disposition, isolate a shooter, and warn facility occupants about the presence of a shooter.

The purchase of the system was made possible by a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. The grant program, known as the Airport Improvement Program, “provides grants to public agencies — and, in some cases, to private owners and entities — for the planning and development of public-use airports that are included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS).” Funds can be used to enhance airport safety and security.

Thanks to the grant, Abilene Regional Airport only has to pay around ten percent of the total cost of installing the Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System. In addition to installing Guardian, the airport also invested in updating its dated video and audio public address system.

Interested in learning more about how the Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System enhances public safety and restores peace of mind? Contact ECT Services at (800) 567-1180.

January 11th, 2019

When it comes time to select a college, you might think that prospective students and their parents focus on factors like academics, cost, beauty of the campus and even the quality of the football and basketball teams. Another important factor? Safety.

Campus safety is a significant factor in choosing a college, particularly for parents. A recent poll conducted by CollegeBoards.com found that 86 percent of parents ranked safety high on their list of requirements, edging out even academics.  

It’s not surprising that 28 percent of colleges and universities highlight their video cameras in their marketing material, according to the 2018 Campus Safety Magazine Video Surveillance Survey.

Video plays a crucial role in campus safety, expanding the reach of campus safety officers into nearly every physical space on campus. A solid 96 percent of survey respondents use video surveillance daily or weekly to keep campuses safe. Top use cases on college and university campuses include theft, crime from community members coming from off campus, and incidents during evenings and off hours.

Video surveillance is used in real time, and for later review. According to the survey, 59 percent of campus security professionals report using video to investigate crimes, while 26 percent report that they are used to deter criminal activity in the first place. Video surveillance is also used by 52 percent of respondents to monitor live events where safety and security issues could arise, like concerts, sporting events and protests. Thirty three percent of respondents find video surveillance to be a force multiplier.

Given those use cases, image quality and reliability are key factors in choosing video surveillance tools, along with integration with other systems and data analytics tools to extend the reach and insights even further.

ECT Services partners with leaders in video surveillance cameras like Axis. We build integrated systems that connect seamlessly with other tools like access control solutions offered by HID and active shooter alert systems like The Guardian by Shooter Detection Systems.

Want to learn more? Contact us at (800) 567-1180 for a consultation today.

May 31st, 2018

Spring and summer often mean severe weather in the Ohio Valley. In addition to the typical storms caused by weather fronts rolling in from the west, the remnants of tropical storms and hurricanes occasionally sweep up from the south. Both can bring deluges and flash flooding.

 

Flooding brings a particular set of safety risks. The National Fire Prevention Association offers these six tips for managing electrical risks brought on by storms:

• Keep in touch with local authorities, and be prepared to turn off utilities and propane tanks as instructed.
• Don’t ever drive into flooded areas, even if water is only a few inches deep. The current could be much stronger than you realize, and the water can conceal or distort hazards like holes and washed out roadways.
• Every downed wire is a live wire, whether you see sparks or not. Call the utility company immediately if you spot any downed wires in your area, and do not approach. Downed wires are a risk not only in flash flooding situations, but in storms with high winds.
• If you smell gas in your area, do not turn on any lights or equipment. Even the smallest spark could trigger an explosion.
• If your facility is flooded, don’t turn power back on until you it has been inspected – including equipment – and either been remediated or declared safe to operate.
• If you choose to use gas generators to power equipment, be sure to operate it safely. Carbon monoxide poisoning due to improper ventilation is a real risk. Operate generators outdoors only, well away from doors, windows and other openings and well away from air intake for HVAC systems.

Review these safety tips with your team, and be sure to add them to your emergency plans and procedures with other safety policies. All emergency plans should be reviewed annually and updated as necessary.

Fire safety systems should be reviewed and updated regularly, too. An updated, integrated system runs more efficiently and offers better protection. Interested in learning more about our fire systems? Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

May 9th, 2017

Summer break is just weeks away, and teachers and students are both looking forward to an extended break.

Not so for building maintenance personnel. Summer is the time to catch up on cleaning and maintenance projects that had to be put off during the school year. Their hard work will pay off; studies indicate that well-maintained facilities have a positive impact on student achievement.

On the agenda for many schools:

Floor maintenance. Floors take a beating during the school year, and now is the time to clean and protect them in preparation for next year. Furniture can be moved out of the way and products can be applied with proper drying time.

Window maintenance. Windows do more than let the sunshine in. They also aid in scientific exploration, showcase art, and serve as the starting line for day dreams. All of those activities lead to everything from smudges to cracks and defects. Windows can be thoroughly cleaned and replaced during summer months.

Deep cleaning surfaces. Tabletops, counters and bathroom surfaces get wiped down during the year, but summer is the time to do the job more thoroughly.

But summer is also a good time to address larger system needs, too. School maintenance personnel should take the opportunity to inspect, clean and review:

HVAC systems. Filters and ducts should be inspected, updated and cleaned. Systems should be evaluated to ensure they are operating at peak efficiency.

Fire safety and emergency alert systems. Equipment and systems should be inspected and tested.

Security systems. Worn or outdated equipment should be replaced. Camera placement should be evaluated and adjusted, if necessary.

School staff should also take the opportunity to revisit emergency plans, too, particularly if the facility is has made significant changes, such as room reconfigurations, additions or other building projects. Summer is also a good time to investigate adding new systems and processes.

Well-maintained systems are key to building maintenance, and important for the development, health and safety of students and staff.

We’re always happy to discuss how our solutions can help. Connect with us at the Kentucky School Plant Management Association conference and workshops Oct. 18-19 at the Embassy Suites Hotel at 1801 Newtown Pike in Lexington or call us at (800) 567-1180 to discuss your needs.

May 4th, 2017

If you’ve got a need for to keep an eye on critical, sensitive areas in potentially hazardous contexts, Axis Communications may have the solution.

Axis announced earlier this week the release three new explosion-protected cameras for use in sensitive industrial areas: XF40-Q2901 Explosion-Protected Temperature Alarm Camera, XF60-Q2901 Explosion-Protected Temperature Alarm Camera, and XP40-Q1942 Explosion-Protected PT Thermal Network Camera.

“Industrial plant operators have a tremendously difficult task,” explained Martina Lundh, global product manager for thermal and explosion-protected cameras at Axis Communications, in a company press release. “They need to ensure efficiency and continuity in large-scale, critical industrial processes, while meeting all health, safety and environmental regulations, across multiple locations and, often, across huge areas. Our new cameras deliver critical real-time information, allowing for immediate incident response which can prove to be a life-saving benefit.”

The cameras allow plant operators to monitor remote, inaccessible, and sensitive areas, allowing for rapid incident response and protection of employees, machinery and critical industrial infrastructure, according to the release. The new cameras integrate with existing Supervisory control and data acquisition architectures. The cameras are based on industry standards and open protocols, and are protected in a heavy-duty enclosure.

Use cases for the fixed cameras include control and detection of temperatures of equipment and leaks in pipes, fire detection, and monitoring of equipment and perimeter protection. They can also be used to help visually inspect and verify functions and processes are running correctly, and provide remote assistance with planned maintenance.

Use cases for the pan/tilt include detection of people in restricted areas and safety of personnel in hazardous areas. XP40-Q1942 also supports electronic image stabilization, which improves video quality in situations where cameras are subject to vibrations, and Zipstream, which lowers bandwidth and storage requirements without compromising image quality.

The cameras are certified world-wide and will be available starting this month. Interested in learning more? Contact our sales team at (800) 567-1180.

May 1st, 2017

Survivors recently marked the ten year anniversary of the Virginia Tech shooting. On April 16, 2007, a VT senior terrorized the campus, killing 32 people and wounding 17 others before taking his own life. Several more students were injured jumping out of windows to safety.

But many, many more victims were left in the killer’s wake. Students and teachers who witnessed the shootings, first responders, hospital staff, administrators and countless others suffered secondary trauma and were left at risk of developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Because they were not physically harmed, many secondary trauma survivors may be reluctant to seek help.

“My mind felt like a confused, scrambled mess. I constantly compared myself to the physically injured survivors,” wrote Lisa Hamp in Campus Safety Magazine. “They had to cope with physical injury while I walked out of the building unharmed. Because of this, I thought I was undeserving of being recognized as a ‘survivor,’ that I lucked out, and that I needed to be quiet and make myself small.”

Hamp suffered with feelings of anxiety, vulnerability, fear, loneliness for years after the shooting, despite giving the appearance of moving on with her life. Counseling helped her recognize and resolve the mismatch between her outward appearance and inward turmoil.

“Today, I understand that survivors include both physically injured and non-physically injured individuals. You don’t have to be shot to be injured,” wrote Hamp. “Recovery is both physical and mental. The psychological effect of surviving an active shooter situation is intangible and boundless, and the level of trauma that each individual experiences will vary.”

Hamp advocates for recovery plans to include a mental health component, and should include outreach to all survivors and first responders.

Additional resources:

This comprehensive whitepaper will help in developing plans to recognize and treat secondary trauma and PTSD in first responders.

Check out these tips for how parents can help children and adolescents cope with trauma after a school shooting.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has also prepared a Psychological First Aid Field Operations Guide.

The U.S. Department of Education has also produced a helpful list of lessons learned from school crises and emergencies that includes a detailed section on short and long term effects of trauma.

April 24th, 2017

A school custodian is emerging as one of the heroes of the latest headline-grabbing school shooting.

On April 10, Edna Gamarro was outside the library at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, Calif. when she heard the distinctive sound of gunshots.

At that moment, a little boy was exiting the library. Gamarro quickly redirected the child back into the library and to safety.

“I was just telling him to go inside and he was like ‘why why’ and I was like don’t ask anything and I just pushed him in and went inside and told the librarian just keep him inside, just go to the back door,” Edna Gamarro said in an interview with CBSNews.com.

The boy’s mother credited Gamarro with saving his life.

Gamarro’s sharp ears and quick thinking made a difference in the San Bernardino school shooting.

Guardian, a gunshot detection system developed by Shooter Detection Systems, puts the same sharp ears and quick thinking throughout a facility. Guardian works by using acoustic and infrared sensors to instantly identify gunshots. The precise location of the gunshots is noted, and authorities are alerted immediately.

The Guardian system has the ability to dramatically reduce response times in active shooter situations. A recent independent live-fire study in a two million square foot facility reduced reporting and first-responder dispatch time from as much as 18 minutes to just five seconds. Warnings can also be instantly sent out to people in the facility and vicinity advising them to evacuate or take cover. This video demonstrates the basics of the system.

Interested in learning more? Register for our Live Fire event.

ECT Services will also be participating in the Kentucky School Plant Management Association conference and workshops this year, which will take place Oct. 18-19 at the Embassy Suites Hotel at 1801 Newtown Pike in Lexington.

March 28th, 2016

On a cold night in mid-February, a piece of Kentucky history went up in flames.

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Rabbit Hash General Store, a landmark clapboard store that stood on Lower River Road in Boone County for more than 185 years, was decimated by a fast-moving fire. The family that owns the store, and the community that loves it, have vowed to rebuild on the same spot.

While you can’t prevent every disaster, you can mitigate risk. Some ideas for protecting property and people:

Inspect fire protection systems quarterly. Test alarms and systems regularly, and perform any required maintenance promptly. Questions about inspections? Contact Tom Barrett at (800) 567-1180.

Inspect property for fire risks. Fires need ignition and fuel. Are sources of ignition and fuel present? Look for frayed electrical cords or other spark risks, and repair or replace when necessary. Be sure fuel sources like papers or chemicals or any other combustible materials are properly stored. Check out this list from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration for more ideas to reduce risk.

Review your emergency action plans. Be sure your plan includes: a plan for reporting, an evacuation plan for employees and guests that includes floor plans and maps, procedures for employees who must remain in place to perform critical operations, and rescue and medical duties for designated employees. Use this guide to create or review your plans.

Plan a drill. Plan and execute fire evacuation and other safety drills at least once a year.