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BUILDING INTEGRATION

Posts Tagged ‘Building Security’

Looking to the moon for innovation inspiration

Fifty years ago this month, Neil Armstrong took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Putting a man on the moon stands out as one of the most audacious acts of achievement ever attempted by humans. The moon landing was the pinnacle of a period of amazing innovation. America’s space program inspired generations to dream big, take risks and innovate new ways to solve problems.

But while the moon landing was a fantastic success, it was built on previous failures and challenges. Innovation happens when there’s a problem to be solved.

The successful mission of Apollo 11 was preceded by a nearly endless string of challenges, ranging from engineering problems to be solved to budget pressures to competition from the Soviet Union. The greatest failure of all was the loss of the entire Apollo 1 crew in a cabin fire during testing for that mission.

After that disastrous mission, the American space program could have folded. Leaders might have retreated, concluding that the goal was out of reach or too risky. But they instead persevered, deciding that “failure is not an option.”

Innovation is one of our greatest strengths at ECT Services. Here’s how we approach innovation:

  1. Keep the customer first. Customers trust us to help them solve problems because we’ve invested in building genuine relationships with them.

  2. Know the tools you have at your disposal. In an iconic scene from the movie Apollo 13, the mission control team on the ground scrambles to figure out a way to fix the air ventilation system on the space capsule when the ship becomes disabled tens of thousands of miles into space. One of the engineers dumps a seemingly random pile of objects onto a table before his team. The objects represent all the resources astronauts have aboard their disabled ship. The engineer sets forth the challenge: “We have to find a way to make this fit into the hole for this, using nothing but that.”

    The engineers set to work, and come up with an epic kludge that includes the cover off the flight manual. The contraption works, and the astronauts are saved.

    Innovation begins with the resources at hand. Our VR Tenant solution is a great example of innovation that started with a deep understanding of the equipment at hand and how it works.

  3. Stay focused on the goal. President John F. Kennedy set forth a clear, compelling goal: Get a man to the moon, and bring him back safely. The goals for our customers are different – achieve greater efficiency, keep this building secure – but they are just as important to our customers, and to us. It may not be landing on the moon, but it matters greatly to a child waiting at home that their parent returns safely from work each day. It matters greatly that we leave behind a cleaner planet because we helped maximize a facility’s energy efficiency. It matters greatly that works of art are preserved for posterity because we created a system that carefully controls their climate.

Need a strong partner to help you overcome a challenge and reach a goal? We can help. Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation today.

Is your coffee maker a security risk?

In most offices – ours included – the coffee maker is standard operating equipment, and the biggest hazard it poses is running empty before the caffeine-dependent among us are fully awake.

But this recent post caught our attention and raised our awareness about the threat posed by IoT (internet of things) connected devices. The pros at Professional Security Magazine put their skills to work hacking a “smart” coffee machine.

A smart coffee machine may sound fairly innocuous, but it’s not. The risks of a compromised device stretch far beyond a subpar cup of morning joe. Compromised connected devices can open up networks and all devices associated with a network to all manner of risk.

In 2016, hackers were able to launch a DDoS attack that took down sites like Twitter, Spotify, Reddit and more by infiltrating and compromising networks through connected devices like DVRs, baby monitors and IP cameras.

Let’s go back to that coffee pot.

The white hat hackers at Professional Security Magazine were able to manipulate the coffee machine itself to do some fairly annoying and perhaps even dangerous things.

“We infiltrated the coffee maker via Wi-Fi, then set up malicious software updates that made the coffee maker do unexpected and potentially dangerous things. We made the burner overheat, potentially starting a fire. We made scalding water pour onto the burner. We even made the coffee maker send ransomware messages demanding payment,” they said in the post.

But the hacking had more serious and sinister implications. The compromised coffee machine was now a gateway to the network. Hackers would be able to see emails and payment information on purchases made online. They would be able get into security systems, see video cameras, and muck around in other sensitive places.

The proliferation and utility of IoT devices means they are here to stay. At ECT Services, we certainly believe in the power and potential of integrated systems.

So what can you do to safeguard your home and business? Here are a few tips:

Keep connections minimal. Only network and connect to the internet when necessary, and in those circumstances work to minimize exposure and secure connections. If a device needs internet access, understand how it needs to be accessed and take steps to protect remote access channels. One example would be to require use of VPN type services.

Don’t reuse passwords.  Especially on your network or wireless router. Remove or disable default accounts if possible and always change default account passwords using strong password standards. Use two factor authentication if a product or service allows.

Know what’s connected. Understand all the devices connected to your network, and why they must be connected. Keep an inventory and audit regularly.

At ECT Services, we approached smart devices very carefully and custom tailor solutions to meet your security needs. Contact us today at (800) 567-1180 for a consultation about your building security and integration.

Active Shooter Drills and Trauma

An active shooter drill for staff members at an elementary school in Indiana drew fire recently when it was revealed that teachers were shot with Airsoft guns as part of the training.

Members of local law enforcement who were conducting the training shot four teachers “execution style” in the course of the training. The shots raised welts and drew blood on some of the teachers.

The Indiana State Teachers’ Union decried the training tactics and called for changes, but the White County Sheriff’s Office defended the approach.

“The training was meant to be realistic — to show what happens if you don’t act,” Sheriff Bill Brooks said following the training.

But is there actually a knowledge gap for teachers? Do they not know what may happen if they fail to act in a real, live active shooter event? That’s doubtful, given ample evidence. Nearly every significant active mass shooting event at a school has included teachers and staff members rushing to protect children. Teachers fully understand the need to act, and act quickly.

Inflicting unnecessary trauma on teachers, staff and children during training events may actually be a greater risk to safety in the long term, and the learning environment in the short term.

A recent story that appeared on MarketWatch claims that no studies exist that demonstrate that more realistic active shooter training is more effective.

A segment produced on an episode of This American Life last year suggested that realistic active shooter drills may actually negatively impact preparation. Participants in drills were so traumatized that they forgot critical response steps, such as calling police.

Drills and actual active shooter events both reveal the same thing: trauma negatively impacts humans’ ability to consistently respond in a way that is both timely and effective. While drills and training are still important, they are not likely to overcome that.

Instead of putting all of the onus to respond on teachers, staff and students, a better approach may be to integrate systems that automatically detect and respond to gun shots, much like fire detection systems automatically detect and respond to the threat of fire.  The Guardian indoor shot detection system offered by Shooter Detection Services uses acoustic and infrared sensors – no bigger and no more obtrusive than smoke detectors — to automatically detect and instantly report shots fired. Guardian can integrate with systems to automatically lock doors the moment a shot is detected, limiting a shooter’s movement and/or keeping potential targets out of harm’s way.

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

How can we keep houses of worship safe?

“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.

How secure are the entrances to your facility?

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.

Is video surveillance a marketing tool for college campuses?

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.

‘Tis the season to winterize your facility

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.

How schools are thinking differently about potential shootings.

This week’s episode of This American Life, a long-running public radio program that explores a different theme each week, featured stories on mass shootings. One of the segments featured took a closer look at the lessons learned in the wake of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last February.

The school had undergone intensive active shooter training just weeks before the event that took the lives of 17 students and teachers. As I listened to the segment, a few insights surfaced for me:

  1. One of the lessons learned from previous school shooting was the importance of locking doors and securing areas. At Sandy Hook, the gunman tried two classroom doors and found them locked. The third classroom door he tried was not. He entered that classroom.

“I will not be the third door,” teacher Melissa Falkowski told her students during the active shooter training at Stoneman Douglas.

The Guardian indoor shot detection system offered by Shooter Detection Services uses acoustic and infrared sensors – no bigger and no more obtrusive than smoke detectors — to automatically detect and instantly report shots fired. 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.

  1. Hyper realistic drills yielded worse performance, underscoring what we already know: humans don’t perform perfectly in high-stress situations. Some schools have used surprise drills featuring “gunmen” with blanks. As you might anticipate, the drills can be extremely traumatizing to faculty, staff and students.

In surprise drills with blanks, participants were so traumatized they forgot key steps like calling the police. Guardian eliminates such critical errors by automatically notifying police the moment that a shot is detected.

  1. Other alarms can add to confusion. During the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, dust from acoustical tiles hit by the first few bullets tripped the fire alarms, sending students and teachers pouring out into the hallways where they were exposed to the shooter. Emergency plans had accounted for multiple conflicting alarms – a fire alarm and an active shooter alert – with instruction to ignore a fire alarm and always pay attention to the active shooter alert. But the fire alarm was triggered instantaneously, while the active shooter alert was not.

Would the outcome have been different if acoustic shot detection had triggered an alarm for an active shooter first, rather than an alarm for a fire drill?

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

HID Innovation Recognized by Security Today

Trusted identity solutions provider HID Global recently snagged two awards for new products from Security Today magazine, according to press releases from the company.
Security Today recognized HID’s SAFE™ Analytics solution as its most noteworthy new product for Big Data Security Analysis in 2018. The HID SAFE Analytics solution employs predictive analytics for assessing risks associated with identities in the system. The solution monitors for activities such as tailgating and badge fishing and behaviors such as erratic movement and unusual timing. A risk score is calculated for each activity or behavior, and customized mitigation responses are recommended.

“We are excited to receive this award for a solution that takes customers beyond a purely reactive security stance to one where they can identify and prevent breaches before they occur,” said Julian Lovelock, Vice President, Identity & Access Management Solutions (IAMS) with HID Global. “The critical knowledge and actionable insights our solution delivers give organizations high-value tools for averting security issues.”

HID’s Lumidigm® V400-BX Series multispectral imaging fingerprint sensor was also recognized by Security Today as the New Product of the Year in the Access Control–Biometrics category.

The Lumidigm V400-BX sensor delivers end-point security with biometric authentication in a device that combines multispectral fingerprint technology with on-device encryption, tamper detection and response capabilities. The sensors work for normal, wet, dry or damaged fingers, across a wide range of conditions, and can detect fake fingerprints.

Use cases include user enrollment and verification in enterprise access control applications, especially in financial and other regulated industries.

“This award recognizes key Lumidigm V400-BX sensor capabilities, with superior biometric performance and the first ISO/IEC 30107-3 certified fingerprint sensor to reject faked or stolen fingerprints.  The sensor’s robust, end-to-end encryption and anti-tamper technology processes billions of transactions annually to prevent misuse by fraudsters, while correctly authenticating legitimate users,” said Michael Chaudoin, Vice President of Product Management and Marketing, Extended Access Technologies business unit with HID Global, in a press release.  “We are proud to receive this affirmation of our fingerprint sensor offering and validation of the crucial role biometrics plays in securing enterprise networks and other logical access applications.”
ECT Services is proud to partner with innovated industry leaders like HID Global.

Does your facility need a strong access control solution? Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation today.

Texas adopting Shooter Detection Services

It may seem like little has changed in communities impacted by last year’s deadly spate of school shootings, but that may not be the case.

Many called for “hardening” schools against future attacks with enhanced security processes and systems, and school districts across Texas are acting on recommendations to include active shooter detection systems to school facilities.

“We are experiencing a clear trend upwards in the K-12 school market, especially in Texas,” said Christopher Swanger, Senior Vice President of Sales for Shooter Detection Services, which markets The Guardian. “Texas schools are prioritizing funds for school safety and they see the value of our zero false alert system to empower students, staff and law enforcement to respond. Would you send your children to school without fire alarms? Schools are now looking at active shooter detection in the same way.”
The Houston area witnessed its own deadly school shooting on May 18 when a student entered an art classroom and began firing. He killed eight students and two teachers and wounded thirteen others, including school security personnel.

Just two weeks after, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a report which included a recommendation that Texas schools install active shooter alarm systems as part of structural improvements aimed at “hardening” schools.

While calls for hardening schools stokes fears that schools would become less welcoming fortresses, active shooter alert systems are a relatively unobtrusive option.

The Guardian indoor shot detection offered by Shooter Detection Services uses acoustic and infrared sensors – no bigger and no more obtrusive than smoke detectors — 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 can also integrate 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.