March 18th, 2019

“Hello, brother.”

The man standing at the entrance of the Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand must have seen the weapon the gunman was carrying, and must have guessed the gunman’s intent.

Even so, the greeter welcomed him as a “brother,” offering a hospitality even in the face of a clear threat. Many Muslims have commented online that the final words of that greeter, who became the gunman’s first victim, embodied their faith.

The greeting brings to mind the way Dylan Roof was welcomed in by members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Roof was invited to stay for Bible study. He spent an hour studying with a small group, including the church’s pastor, before gunning down nine of them.

Why are houses of worship so often the targets of active shooters?

The very design and purpose of most houses of worship makes them vulnerable to attack. Most houses of worship are meant to be places that are open and welcoming. Attackers count on that vulnerability.

They are also, of course, places where people of a common faith gather, which makes them a target. The communities gathered there may also share political beliefs, ethnic heritage or immigration status, which may also make them the target for shooters with an evil agenda.

Houses of worship are also often a refuge for troubled people, or those seeking help to escape domestic violence.

So, how can houses of worship enhance safety without compromising core values and losing their sense of community?

First, most broader religious organizations and associations, as well as major insurers, offer guidebooks and training. Leaders should check with their religious networks for guidance, or check with their insurers (see here and here). Law enforcement agencies are also good resources for advice and training.

Houses of worship should also consider adding video surveillance and automatic gunshot detection systems. Both can be unobtrusive and effective in detecting and communicating threats.

The Guardian gunshot detection system developed by Shooter Detection Systems works by using acoustic and infrared sensors to instantly identify gunshots. The precise location of the gunshots is noted, and authorities are alerted immediately. Warnings are also 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.

We’d love to tell you more. Please reach out via this link for more information.

March 11th, 2019

The hospital can be a dangerous place for healthcare professionals.

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, approximately 24,000 working adults are the victims of workplace violence on average each year. Of those, an astounding 75 percent are healthcare workers.

Even worse, healthcare workers injured as a result of violence on the job are four times more likely than other types of workers to be seriously injured and require days away from work to recover.

The nature of healthcare work, particularly hospitals, elevates risk of violence. Nurses, aides, physicians and other staff are caring for people at their most vulnerable. The vast majority of assaults against take place at the hands of patients. Many are in physical pain and may be emotionally or psychologically unstable.

Direct patient care – the time when hospital staff are most vulnerable to attack – often takes place in private or semi-private areas, which could make it challenging to quickly summon help.

But thanks to HID Global, a recognized industry leader in trusted identity solutions, help may be as near as the ubiquitous staff ID badge. HID Global recently announced the launch of their new BEEKs™ Duress Badge Beacon. Staff members or clinicians can simply press the back of their badge to trigger a duress alert that identifies zeros in on their location wherever they are in the facility or grounds and summons security teams for help. The badges feature a Bluvision enabled BLE beacon that makes it possible to locate the wearer anywhere inside a configured area. The beacons are accurate within six feet of the wearer.

The technology is also suitable for other use cases where employees might be at elevated risk of assault, such as the hospitality industry, according to a press release by HID Global.

Interesting in learning more about how to enhance safety and security at your facility? Call ECT Services at (800) 567-1180 for a consultation today.

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 16th, 2019

A year ago this week, a young gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. and took the lives of 17 people. The Parkland shooting was another in a long, sad list of mass shooting incidents that seems to grow every year.

Students at a vigil following the shooting in Parkland, February 14, 2018

But Parkland seemed to be an inflection point in the United States’ struggle with gun violence. Much like the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School more than six years ago, the shooting seemed to break through the national consciousness, even if just for a moment, and spur people to turn a critical eye to these types of events and at least attempt to prevent them from happening again.

So what have we learned?

Mass shooting incidents produce stress and chaos, which make it difficult to make good decisions. Despite the fact that Marjory Stoneman Douglas had held active shooter drills just weeks before the shooting, nothing could quite prepare leaders for the actual event. While the actions of some teachers and students have been heralded as heroic and life-saving, the actions (or inactions) of other leaders on the scene have been called into question. At least some of the problems called out included slow response due to confusion over exactly where the shooter was located on the large, complex campus.

That confusion could have been immediately eliminated by automatic gunshot detection and reporting via systems such as Guardian, offered by Shooter Detection Systems. Guardian uses infrared and acoustic sensors to automatically and accurately detect gunfire. Once gunfire is detected, authorities can be instantly notified of exactly where it is located, and other systems can be activated as well, including automatic door locks and alarms.

Several school districts, including districts across Texas, have responded to shootings like Parkland by investing in Guardian as part of facility “hardening” initiatives. Unlike other such initiatives, Guardian is relatively unobtrusive.

Interested in learning more about Guardian? Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

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.

December 18th, 2018

Last week marked the six-year anniversary of the deadly mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut that took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults.

There were school shootings before the Sandy Hook event, and there have been school shootings after. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a group formed in the wake of Sandy Hook, there have been 89 incidents involving gun fire at schools in the last year alone. But Sandy Hook represents a cultural touchstone in some sense, and is often cited in debates over how to solve the problem of mass shootings.

But what lessons have we learned since Sandy Hook?

Campus Safety Magazine identifies seven lessons from Sandy Hook. Among the most striking is the necessity to act quickly in the event of an active shooter situation.

Quickly implementing lockdown procedures undoubtedly saved the lives of many at Sandy Hook. Twenty of the victims where killed in or near two unlocked rooms. In the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla. last year, 22 people were shot in the first 69 seconds of the incident. Speed is crucial, yet difficult to achieve in high-stress situations.

In crisis simulation exercises conducted by Campus Safety Magazine, school personnel miscalculated the time they would have to lock the door. It took between 30 and 40 seconds to find keys and lock doors in many cases, and up to a minute in others.

Part of the delay may be attributable to being able to quickly and accurately assess the threat.

Shot detection systems like Guardian remove the uncertainty and reduce time to act by automatically and accurately detecting gunfire and initiating response. Guardian uses acoustic and infrared sensors to detect gunfire. Guardian can integrate with systems to automatically lock doors the moment a shot is detected. That quick action can limit a shooter’s movement, and also limit the movements of potential targets, keeping them out of harm’s way.

Guardian can also be integrated with other systems, such as communication systems, to immediately alert authorities, staff and other key stakeholders the second a shot is detected.

Schools are recognizing the value of Guardian. For instance, schools in independent districts across Texas have chosen to install Guardian as part of a comprehensive school safety approach aimed at “hardening” schools unobtrusively.

Interested in learning more? Sign up here for our next Live Fire demonstration.

December 5th, 2018

The Ohio Valley skipped right over fall and went straight to winter, it would seem. Aside from being unpleasant to go from 80-degree afternoons one week to 30-degree highs the next, such rapid shifts posed a threat to business continuity.

The ice storm that rolled through the region recently might not have wreaked the havoc it did if it had showed up in, say, January rather than mid-November. Why? Many trees were still holding on to most of their leaves. Ice clung to the leaves, weighing down the limbs and causing them to break off. The crashing limbs and trees took out power lines across the region, and left tens of thousands without power. It took as much as four days for power to be restored to some.

The early ice storm was a wake up call. Is your facility ready for unexpected weather events? Here’s how you can prepare:

Stock up now on surface treatment supplies. Make sure you have the proper equipment and chemicals available for treating parking lots and walkways. And don’t forget the inside of your facility, too – melting snow and ice tracked in through door ways can create a slip and fall hazard. Be ready with the necessary tools to keep those areas clean and dry, too.

Inspect shrubs, trees and roofs. Keep foliage trimmed back so it doesn’t hang over power lines or roofs. Check roofs for potential trouble spots, and make sure gutters and drainage systems are clear and functioning properly.

Take care of routine HVAC system maintenance. Evaluate performance and replace any filters or worn parts as needed to maintain efficient performance.

Review business continuity plans. If your business loses power, do you have a back up plan? If key personnel lose power at home are unable to get to work, do you have a back up plan? Now is the time to document and cross train to ensure smooth functioning.

Need help reviewing the safety and security of your facility? We can help. Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

November 29th, 2018

ECT Services has long been the region’s leader for building integration. As the IoT revolution has gotten underway, we’ve been the go-to source for connecting smart HVAC systems; integrating fire suppression systems; and linking building access, communication, video surveillance and even sophisticated acoustic shot detection systems. All of these integrations put valuable information and insights into the hands of facilities managers.

The integrations result in expanded capabilities and increased efficiencies. Buildings become safer and more efficient. We’ve made it possible for a whole community of systems to talk to each other to create a better environment for the people that inhabit the buildings they power.

So, it seems logical to ask, “What will join the next conversation next?”

The answer may be, “A vacuum cleaner!”

A recent post on Energy Manager Today suggests that cleaning may be the next big area of opportunity for driving efficiencies from insights gathered via IoT. It’s already possibility to remotely monitor performance and use of equipment. Managers can tell whether or not a tool – a vacuum, for instance – is operating efficiently or requires servicing. They can monitor how long, where and by whom a tool is being used. Those insights could lead to more efficient usage, driving down maintenance and energy costs.

The next logical step is to move beyond reacting to being proactive. Integrated systems could detect increased activity in a building – perhaps due to ramping up staff – and anticipate greater usage of cleaning equipment. Rather than wait for a breakdown, the system could use predictive modeling to anticipate a more frequent need for routine maintenance, and automatically schedule accordingly.

Integrated systems could also see changes in building usage and adjust cleaning schedules accordingly. Areas that have seen little or no use could be scheduled for a simple check, while areas that have seen increased usage could be flagged for extra attention.

Cleaning is just one possible area for innovation in the smart buildings of the present and future. Whatever the next wave of building integration looks like, ECT Services has the experience and capabilities to maximize opportunities and drive the value. Interested in learning more? Call ECT Services at (800) 567-1180 today.