June 20th, 2017

There’s no question that 360 degree panoramic cameras deliver excellent coverage and rich image detail.

But those qualities come at a price, and for 360 degree video, the cost comes in the form of higher bandwidth and storage usage.

Photo credit: Axis

For many end users, finding the sweet spot between the need for coverage and quality and the desire to keep bandwidth and storage costs low has been a challenge. Axis Communications, one of ECT Services trusted partners, is meeting that challenge with the release of updates to its Zipstream compression technology.

Zipstream analyzes and optimizes the video stream in real time. The technology automatically detects low value areas like walls, lawns and vegetation, and ‘smooths’ them out, saving bandwidth and space. At the same time, the technology automatically detects important forensic details such as faces, tattoos and license plates and isolates and preserves them. A dynamic rate controller is enabled automatically when a camera is panned, tilted or zoomed. The result is a 50 percent decrease in bandwidth and storage requirements for surveillance video with no loss in frame rate or resolution.
“Storage and bandwidth make a significant part of the total cost of a surveillance system. Axis developed Zipstream to address the specific needs of the security industry. That is, to minimize these requirements without losing forensic details,” said Johan Paulsson, Chief Technology Officer at Axis Communications in a company press release. “We are happy and proud to announce that the enhancement of Zipstream now embraces both panoramic and ultra-high resolution cameras.”

Two new Axis compact fixed mini dome ‘fisheye’ network cameras, AXIS M3047-P and AXIS M3048-P, take advantage of the enhanced Zipstream technology to deliver 360-degree coverage on a budget.

AXIS M3047-P, with a 6-megapixel sensor, and AXIS M3048-P, with a 12-megapixel sensor, both deliver full frame rate video, according to the release.

Zipstream also works with Axis’ fixed and fixed dome, PTZ, thermal and explosion-protected cameras as well as door stations.

June 7th, 2017

For Marisa Eckberg, it was just a typical day in the office.


Until suddenly, it wasn’t.

Eckberg, an associate with a Dallas-area staffing company, was onboarding new employees when the president of her company interrupted her work to deliver alarming news. Shots had been fired in their high-rise office building, and they needed to respond quickly to keep themselves and their new class of recruits safe.
Despite her fear, Eckberg calmly took action. She began directing the employees into a dark supply room, and directed them to close, lock, and barricade the door with a filing cabinet. She instructed them to turn the lights off and remain silent and set phones to “do not disturb.”
How did Eckberg remain calm, and know exactly what to do? Just six weeks before, she attended Active Shooter training hosted by her staffing company. She learned the “run, hide, fight” protocol, and knew her office’s emergency procedures and her responsibilities as a leader to keep her employees safe.
“It was definitely a scary situation, and one I would never want anyone to have to go through, but had my company not conducted active shooter training just a few weeks prior, I would have been that much more terrified and unable to offer any kind of help to those around me,” said Eckberg in a blog post recounting the experience.
It might be tempting not to take safety and emergency training seriously, but in a crisis such training is crucial. What can you do to ensure safety and emergency training is an important part of your organizational culture? Start with the following steps:
Review your safety and emergency training policies and procedures, and make sure they are complete and up to date. Include procedures for fires, natural disasters and other common emergencies. Review policies at least annually.
Schedule safety and emergency training regularly and require attendance for every employee and regular volunteer. Move beyond classroom presentations to drills where participants walk through procedures.
Inspect safety and emergency systems regularly. Fire detection and suppression systems, video surveillance systems, alarm systems and all other systems require routine maintenance and inspection to ensure they are functioning properly. Be sure you’ve documented any changes or updates to systems, too, and ensure they are working properly.
Look for gaps in safety and emergency systems and considering adding additional capabilities. Gunshot detection systems are a fairly new entry to the market. Much as a smoke or fire detection system automatically alerts building occupants to potential danger, gunshot detection systems automatically alert and respond to shots fired in a facility.
Learn more about our Guardian active shooter detection systems at an upcoming Live Fire event.

June 5th, 2017

Active shooters have struck in any number of public places. Schools, malls, concert venues, night clubs and offices have all been attacked. With each new attack, law enforcement and first responders learn a little more about the awful imagination of active shooters, and look for ways to anticipate, foil and mitigate future instances. Active shooter drills have become a common preparation tool in the kits of local agencies.

 


Perhaps one of the more unusual drills we’ve heard about was staged this week aboard a ferry boat on Puget Sound in Washington state.
Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, Customs and Border Protection, Washington State Ferry, Washington State Patrol, King County Sheriff’s Office and Everett Police Department teamed up to stage an active shooter drill aboard the newly-commissioned Washington State Ferry Chimacum.
Captain Thomas E. Bliss of the Northwest Maritime Academy was recruited to role play the part of a passenger in the drill, and he shared his account here.
Against the picturesque backdrop of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, Bliss and others scrambled to find cover on the vessel, hiding from “bad actors.”
His experiences led him to make several observations, all of which apply on sea or dry land.
Pay attention to those around you. It’s easy to be distracted by job duties, technology or any number of other things, but it’s important to be aware of other people around you. Be aware of any unusual dress or behavior that may indicate that person is concealing a weapon or may be moving into a specific position.
Engage with others. If someone is acting strangely, don’t just let it pass. Those acting with bad intentions count on slipping by unnoticed, and being noticed and engaged may be enough to discourage them.
If you see something, say something. If you notice an unattended bag, don’t just let it pass. “Pay attention to your inner voice,” says Bliss.
Has your organization planned an active shooter drill? Check out this tips for planning and staging an effective drill.

June 1st, 2017

In recent weeks, hackers have taken hundreds of thousands of computers captive through the WannaCry ransom attack.


What is a ransom attack? Using this type of attack, hackers lock down a computer’s data and hold it hostage until the victim of the attack agrees to pay a ransom.
The implications are far from benign, and could indeed be life-threatening. Hospitals in the UK were particularly hard-hit, and without access to records were forced to turn some patients away.
On the heels of WannaCry, news broke that thieves dumped database with 560 million passwords on the Internet. Many of the records were compiled from previous hacks, including LinkedIn, Dropbox, MySpace and Tumblr.
The password dump poses a significant risk to personal and business data, as many use the same passwords across multiple platforms and services.
Both of these attacks highlight this truth: security extends far beyond the physical space. Increasingly, organizations must be vigilant about protecting themselves and their customers in cyberspace, too.
What can you do to protect yourself and your business? The steps are simple, and you’ve probably heard them before, but it’s worth repeating.
Don’t reuse passwords. Just don’t. Strongly consider purchasing a secure password generator and storage solution. Don’t forget to change passwords regularly, too, and never leave default administrative passwords in place.
Keep connections minimal. Only network and connect to the internet when necessary, and in those circumstances work to minimize exposure and secure connections. Following the DDoS attack that took down Spotify and Twitter last fall, we put together this Q and A with Anthony Tatman, our director of IT.
Keep software updated. Make sure you don’t use pirated versions of software; you’ll miss out on critical updates. When updates and patches are release, update promptly. Hackers rely on software vulnerabilities to worm their way in to systems.
Beware of phishing attacks. Never open emails or documents from sources you don’t recognize. Even if you recognize the source or it seems legitimate, exercise caution. Be aware of uncharacteristic language or strange file extensions.

May 18th, 2017

Tracking and monitoring equipment can be a challenge, particularly in large facilities or facilities that have been expanded and remodeled over the years. Critical equipment can go missing, only to be found tucked away in an obscure place. Equipment in difficult to access locations can be tough to monitor.

The Internet of Things can help overcome those challenges, and HID Global’s new Location Services for Item Management and HID Condition Monitoring Services are at the forefront.

HID Location Services for Item Management monitors the location and movement of equipment. Use cases for Location Services for Item Management include locating a ladders, carts, and emergency hospital equipment. Facility managers can use geo-fences to trigger alerts monitoring the movement of equipment as well.

HID Condition Monitoring Services provides real-time analysis of equipment performance, making it possible to optimize performance, predict failure and identify potential issues. Use cases for HID Conditioning Monitoring Services include vending machines, conveyor belts, heating and cooling systems, medical equipment, and other equipment.

The offerings provide a simple solution for streamlining the daily operations in hospitals, manufacturing facilities, and a wide range of industrial organizations requiring instant, actionable data to optimize workflow, processes and equipment efficiency, according to a release from HID Global.

“Every day, organizations seek to address pressing concerns around the misuse, tampering and theft of assets, as well as unforeseen equipment downtime. HID’s latest solutions make it possible to quickly locate items, provide valuable equipment data to optimize equipment efficiency, and react quickly to critical events or instantly know when equipment fails,” said Mark Robinton, Director of Strategic Innovation with HID Global in the release. “Our new condition monitoring services enable operations teams to move from a reactive or prescriptive stance to a more knowledge-based, predictive model that makes it possible to receive advanced warning of issues with equipment and proactively plan for scheduled maintenance based on algorithms and data analytics.”

The tools leverage Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology connected by a cloud-based Bluvision solution. The system is fully integrated, making set up efficient and cost-effective.

Interested in learning more? Call us today at (502) 632-4322.

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 (502) 632-4322 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 (502) 632-4322.

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.

April 12th, 2017

Spring is here, and several ECT Services partners have announced the launch of new products. Here’s a rundown of the latest:


HID Global announced the launch of HID Location Services. The new offering allows organizations to track its workforce in a facility. The real-time proximity-based services verify employee locations for use cases such as monitoring employee check in and check out, monitoring room occupancy, facility management, workforce optimization and more.
“HID Location Services extends HID’s leadership in physical access control with a cutting-edge Internet of Things offering for workforce optimization solutions that can be easily integrated into existing systems,” said Harm Radstaak, Vice President and Managing Director of Physical Access Control Solutions with HID Global in a company press release. “These new capabilities leverage the power of trusted identities to provide a new level of visibility for customers to better understand how buildings are used, help quickly find people in emergency situations, and deliver an extraordinary user experience.”
HID Location Services is off to a strong start, snagging the Most Valuable Product (MVP) award from Security Sales & Integration (SSI) magazine. HID Location Services also took top honors in the Security Industry Association (SIA) New Product Showcase competition in the category of Access Control Devices & Peripherals Wireless.
Bosch Security Systems also introduced a new line of intelligent IP cameras, all of which feature video analytics. The new MIC IP fusion 9000i camera also offers metadata fusion, which fuses the metadata of the camera’s built-in optical and thermal imager.
Bosch also introduced In-Store Analytics, a Cloud-based solution that uses intelligent Bosch IP panoramic cameras to give retailers insights on store traffic, according to a release from the company.
Axis Communications also recently announced new and updated product lines. The FA series of discreet indoor surveillance cameras includes the AXIS FA54 Main Unit, AXIS FA1105 Sensor Unit with a standard lens, AXIS FA1125 Sensor Unit with a pinhole lens and AXIS FA4115 Dome Sensor Unit with a varifocal lens. The series enables indoor surveillance of four closely situated areas using a single system system.
“By separating the sensor unit from the camera body, the sensor units can fit into tight spaces and blend in with the environment for unobtrusive surveillance. The pinhole sensor unit is especially useful at entrances for capturing people’s faces at eye level,” said Erik Mårtensson, Global Product Manager for Modular cameras at Axis Communications, in a company press release. “AXIS FA Series is really cost-efficient since it offers customers the possibility to cover multiple areas of a location with one high-performance camera system.”
Axis also added the indoor AXIS P1367 and outdoor AXIS P1367-E and AXIS P1368-E network cameras to its AXIS P13 fixed-box series.
Belimo also launched a new line of HVAC sensors, developed to seamlessly integrate into building automation systems. The sensors feature universal compact enclosure design, screwless snap covers and a detachable mounting plate.