June 14th, 2018

Purchasing a major system typically involves a great deal of preparation and research. When preparing for the purchase of a new HVAC or security system, you might spend weeks or even months identifying your needs, surveying the market for solutions, pricing options and reviewing bids from top vendors.

Most of the focus during the research phase is on products and installation.


But service after the sale is at least as important. Reliable service is key to keeping your new system up to date and fully utilized.

But how do you shop for service? What do you look for in a service partner? Here are some questions to ask:

1. Communication skills. Does the service provider have strong listening skills? Do they document all conversations and actions consistently, accurately and thoroughly? Do communicate well verbally and in writing?
2. Capacity. Does the service provider have the right people with the right skills available to address your needs efficiently? Do they guarantee response times? Do they do what they say they will do, when they say they will do it?
3. Flexibility. Is the service provider rigid in their response? Do they look for reasons to say no, or reasons to say yes?
4. Partnership. Does your service provider consider themselves an extended member of your team? Do they invest in coaching and teaching your internal teams so their skills can be enhanced, and they can troubleshoot and get the most value out of the system?
A few more words of advice: ask for references, but also check for reviews on Google, Facebook and Yelp. Ask for certifications, if applicable, and follow up with accrediting agencies to verify.
ECT Services offers around the clock service support for environmental controls, security and monitoring systems, as well as preventative maintenance packages and remote support.

Interested in learning more? Call ECT Services at (800) 567-1180.

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 29th, 2018

Paige Curry wasn’t even surprised when a gunman made his way into her Santa Fe High School outside Dallas, Texas on May 18 and took the lives of ten people.
In the aftermath of the latest school shooting, a reporter asked the young teen if she was surprised that such a thing could happen at her school.
With a rueful laugh, Curry said she wasn’t.

“It’s been happening everywhere. I’ve always felt it would eventually happen here too,” said Curry.

It’s easy to see shy she feels that way.

Recent analysis in the Washington Post revealed that 2018 has been deadlier for students than for members of the military.

As of May 18, 31 people have died this year in school shooting incidents while 29 U.S military members have died in combat and non-combat incidents.

While it is important to keep the numbers in perspective – there are far more school children than there are service members, and service members are far more likely to be killed while serving – the analysis shouldn’t be overlooked. This year has been more deadly than previous years, and it’s understandable that students would feel at risk.
According to the Post, “the number of deaths and school shooting incidents through May 18 are each higher this year than at any point since 2000. There have been three times as many deaths in school shootings so far this year than in the second-most deadly year through May 18, 2005.”

Integrated security systems are key to quickly detecting and responding to threats. The Guardian indoor shot detection offered by Shooter Detection Services uses acoustic and infrared sensors to automatically detect and instantly report shots fired. The highly-accurate automated response eliminates reliance on human response during high-pressure, stressful and physically dangerous situations.

Guardian also integrates with a variety of other systems to show live video feed and floor mapping during an event, so shooters can be accurately tracked even from off site. Door locks can be triggered that trap a shooter in a particular area.
Guardian also can be integrated with communication systems to send out mass notifications via social media, audio systems, computer monitors, telephones, mobile devices and fire alarms systems.

This video demonstrates the basics of the system.
Interested in learning more? Please click here.

May 15th, 2018

With the weather warming up and the Kentucky Derby in the books, many are turning their attention to America’s favorite sport: baseball!

Little league fields across the country are humming with activity, and while the vast majority of the kids playing just dream of making the catch or scoring the winning run, some legitimately have their sights set a little higher.

In mid-August, talented teams of 10-12 year olds will take the field Williamsport, Penn. for the Little League World Series. For ten days, hundreds of thousands of players, coaches, parents, grandparents, fans and dignitaries from around the world will converge upon the small town of 6,500 to watch the action live.

But who will be keeping an eye on them?

Axis cameras will provide security teams with insights into all that’s going on across the 72-acre complex, which includes 2 stadiums, the World of Little League® Museum, parking, concessions, retail shops, sponsor booths, dormitories and other facilities. Strategically mounted AXIS Q60 PTZ (pan/tilt/zoom) Network Cameras will allow teams to keep a pulse on crowds and zoom in on any activity of special note. Even activities that take place away from the glaring, bright lights of the outfield will be in sharp view; Axis Lightfinder technology enables the cameras to produce high resolution, colored images in almost complete darkness. Thermal camera and radar capabilities also enhance security around the complex’s perimeter.

Axis delivers these capabilities on a budget, too. Little League International is a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping the experience as affordable as possible for families to attend. There’s no entrance fee for the games, so there’s no gate to underwrite the security budget. Even so, Axis capabilities are efficient enough to provide maximum coverage and extend the reach of security teams. The cameras are integrated seamlessly with network and access control systems, maximizing coverage and efficiency.

Interested in learning more about how Axis can provide efficient, effective, integrated security solutions for your venue, too? Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

April 23rd, 2018

It looks like HID is going to have to add a few new shelves to its trophy case. The identity solution provider raked in five awards from industry groups and publications in recent weeks.

Campus Security and Life Safety Magazine recognized HID’s cloud-based FARGO® Connect™card issuance offering with its 2018 Secure Campus award in the Cloud Solutions and Services category. HID FARGO Connect replaces the old paradigm of standalone printers tied to a dedicated PC workstation for ID issuance with the ability to issue ID cards from anywhere, from any device via a web interface in a trusted end-to-end encryption in a cloud environment. The FARGO Connect card issuance solution also tracks consumables use and helps control ID supply inventory.

HID Approve™ mobile authentication application was awarded New Product of the Year at the Info Security Global Excellence Awards gala ceremony during RSA 2018. HID Approve is a multi-factor authentication solution that equips users to authenticate and verify transactions.

HID’s Mini Tamper-Evident Beacon was recognized with the 2018 RFID Journal Live! Best New Product award. The beacon is the touted as the industry’s first Bluetooth beacon to provide anti-theft protection for IoT-based location services and conditioning monitoring applications. Use cases include monitoring gateways and portals and note when tagged assets approach; tracking temperatures, motion and vibration of machines for health and performance; and tracking inventory and equipment with 1 – 2 meter accuracy.

HID Trusted Tag Services for fire and safety compliance won Sales & Integration (SSI) magazine’s 2018 MVP award. The solution combines HID’s NFC trusted tags with their cloud-based authentication platform to add unique and trusted identities to everyday objects in the IoT, bridging the gap between physical maintenance and inspections and online management systems.

Cyber Defense Magazine also named HID Risk Management Solution the “Most Innovative Product” in the category of cyber security discovery during RSA 2018. The solution is a real-time cyber risk profiling technology that uses data analytics to protect transactions against cybercriminals. It combines evidence-based detection capabilities and behavioral biometrics, supported by machine learning, according to a release from HID.

What does this mean for ECT Services customers? It means you can trust us to partner with recognized industry leaders to provide the most innovative building automation and integration solutions available.

If you are interested in learning more about HID and our other partners, call us at (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

 

 

 

April 16th, 2018

Industry events are worth the time and resource investment for a couple of reasons:
Events offer the opportunity to learn and be inspired by the best in the industry. Organizers work hard to plan programs that include top notch keynote speakers and workshop leaders. Conferences offer attendees a one-stop shop for a wide range of issues, plus the opportunity to learn alongside your peers.

Conferences offer invaluable networking time with your peers. Who is struggling through the same challenges you are facing? Who has already figured it out and is ready to share what they have learned? What are best practices? Peers often have the answers, and the relationships formed in person may last long after the event has ended.

Companies often roll out new products at industry conference. For instance, Axis rolled out a new line of Infrared Illumination (IR) cameras at ISC West earlier this month. Attendees got a look at the new cameras, which feature, pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) and fixed dome cameras, bullet, fisheye and panoramic cameras, and discreet sensors units.

There’s a lot of value to be discovered in exhibits. The exhibit hall alone is worth the price of admission at an industry conference. Fun freebies and swag aside, exhibits often offer you the chance to see the best products in your industry in action. Best of all, you’ll have the chance to meet knowledgeable company representatives in person to discuss the products and solutions they offer, and your specific needs. It’s often like having a free consultation on your terms, and offers you the opportunity to kick off key conversations and relationships.

We’ll be attending the North American State Facilities Administrators National Conference and Resource Expo on June 3 – 6 in Santa Fe. NAFSA members are responsible for the planning, development, operations and maintenance of state facilities, and include facilities professionals in the departments of administration, transportation, real estate, parks, corrections, human services, and colleges and universities. That’s a really diverse group, and we’re looking forward to the educational and networking opportunities, and we’re also looking forward to greeting visitors at our booth in the expo hall.

What conferences do you plan to attend this year?

April 14th, 2018

During the current Kentucky General Assembly, lawmakers passed HB 100, which included an amendment allowing Kentucky to issue its own amendments to the National Electrical Code.

Senator Jared Carpenter (R-Richmond) spoke in favor of the amendment, citing the practices he endorses as the owner of KJC Properties, LLC Real Estate and Rental Properties.

If a tenant calls and says they plugged in a curling iron and now their lights won’t come on, the solution is typically to change the GFCI outlets, said Carpenter. Ground fault control breaker outlets just don’t work well, says Carpenter, and cause needless service issues that drive up costs. Federal regulations reduce efficiency and increase costs for businesses, he said, while not necessarily keeping people safe.

“There’s no electrician that wants to come to your house that wants to do faulty, unsafe work,” said Carpenter. They don’t want to risk the liability if something goes wrong, he said.

The National Fire Prevention Association takes a different view. Keeping current with the latest nation standards is critical for safety, NFPA maintains, and neglecting or opposing national standards could lead to property damage and loss of life.

The political and regulatory environment has shifted significantly in the last few years, however, and now national standards like the NEC face greater scrutiny. Adoption of updates is taking longer.

What does that mean for facilities managers? Facilities managers might have to work a little harder to keep up with the latest regulations, particularly in states like Kentucky which may amend the NEC or other federal standards. State code changes might not always be less strict, sometimes they may be more stringent depending on local context. It’s important to take nothing for granted. Keeping an eye on local codes is key, too.

Organizations like NFPA can be helpful in keeping up with the latest, but developing a good relationship with your local code enforcement office is key. They are the experts when it comes to knowing what is permissible, what is not, and why. Look to your local code enforcement office as an educational resource.

March 23rd, 2018

The best building control and security systems can be defeated by something very simple: insecure passwords.

Easily compromised passwords expose vulnerabilities and make it possible for disgruntled former employees, hackers or other bad actors to wreak havoc.
Each year, SplashData releases its list of the worst passwords. The list is culled from passwords revealed by hacking attacks from that year. It’s hard to believe, but passwords such as “123456” and “qwerty” and even “password” still make the list, despite perennial warnings that these passwords are not secure.

Why do businesses spend thousands on sophisticated security and building control systems, only to leave them open to easy attacks? It’s a bit like installing a very fancy lock on your front door, and leaving the key in place.

Here are a few dos and don’ts for creating and maintaining more secure passwords:

Don’t use familiar terms
Names, significant dates and other personal details make it possible for hackers to guess. Especially as our lives are lived more and more online, and hackers become more and more sophisticated, it becomes fairly easy to discover your favorite team is UK and your favorite color is blue and your mother’s maiden name is Smith. Using any of those terms in a password is risky. Instead, use nonsense, unrelated terms. Be sure to mix capital letters in, as well as a digit or a symbol. You might even consider using an automated random password generator.

Don’t share
Don’t share passwords between accounts and systems. Sharing passwords between accounts and systems is a huge temptation, and almost everyone does it. But it makes it extremely easy for hackers to take over not just one account, but an entire identity.

Do change passwords regularly
Change passwords regularly, but not too frequently. Change passwords any time your business has a personnel change. When you have turnover, change any password used by that person at any time.
Encourage all personnel to change passwords annually. Any more frequently will likely result in compliance challenges.

March 16th, 2018

The latest mass shooting – this one at a veterans’ home in California – touches on the usual concerns around workplace violence and violence in medical facilities.

This incident, however, raises a new concern: are veterans a risk for committing violence?

The shooter in the incident in Yountville, California was a veteran who had been part of the home’s program for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). While his motives are currently unknown, he had recently been dismissed from the program. He returned to the facility armed, and took the lives of three staff members before taking his own.

While people with ties to the military have been involved in recent high-profile shootings, including the perpetrator in the mass shooting in the Ft. Lauderdale airport last January, and the shooter in the Sutherland Springs church shooting last September, statistics do not show an increased risk for veterans.
According to this report in the San Diego Union Tribune, several studies and data from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics show no evidence that military veterans are more prone to lethal violence than others.

Even so, in the search for answers in the wake of traumatic events like mass shootings, some might seize on link together common factors such as military service to construct a narrative. In the case of veterans with PTSD, data doesn’t support the narrative that they are more likely to act out violently toward others.

How can facilities managers protect themselves, their employees and the people they serve? Some tips:

• Take any and all threats seriously. Communicate threats from former staff members, customers, clients and any others to the proper authorities.

• Develop policies and procedures that guide staff members on the steps to take in the event of an active shooter. Drill regularly.

• Design facilities with security in mind. Whether designing for initial construction or retrofitting an existing facility, ECT Services can help create spaces that are safer, more energy efficient and seamlessly connected.

Contact us at (800) 567-1180 today for a consultation.

March 12th, 2018

Weren’t we shivering under a blanket of snow just a couple of weeks ago? Then temps became warmer, with sunshine abundant, and spring fever started setting in. Of course, then it snowed last night.

Spring will officially start on March 20. Between now and then we could see several inches of snow, afternoon highs in the 80s, tornadoes, floods and just about anything in between. If you have any doubts, just check your Facebook memories and you’ll probably see evidence of all of these weather conditions on this day over the last several years.

With spring on the way, now is the time to tackle some routine maintenance and seasonal tasks. Put these on your to-do list now:

Check outside lighting. Walk your parking areas and around the outside of your facility. Look for outside lighting that may have been damaged during snowy, icy weather. Look for light bulbs that have burned out and replace them.

Check landscaping. Flower beds, parking lot islands, sidewalks and lawn areas might have taken a beating when being plowed, scraped and salted this winter. Look for signs of damage and note needed repairs. Look for potholes in parking lots that need repair, and significant gaps or cracks in sidewalks that can cause slips and falls.

Check security cameras and alarms. Review the placement and condition of all inside and outside cameras. Inspect wiring, and check placement to be sure views haven’t shifted or otherwise been compromised.

Clean or change HVAC filters and schedule routine maintenance. Pollen is already flying, and more will be in the air soon. Cleaning or changing out filters is a must to keep allergen levels down inside your facility. Plus, the system is likely to have trapped a lot of debris over the winter months; cleaning or changing the filter is a must for keeping the system running at peak efficiency.

Review severe weather policies and procedures. Tornado season is already underway. Schedule a drill with your team and make sure they all know what to do in the case of severe weather. Update checklists and rosters, especially is you’ve welcomed new team members or made other personnel changes since your last drill.

If you’d like to know more about how you can optimize and integrate your building systems, call us at (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.