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Posts Tagged ‘Building Security’

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.

Could the SAFETY Act shield your organization from liability?

It’s a nightmare scenario.

A lone gunman holes up in your facility and uses it to stage a horrifying attack on the public, killing scores of people and striking terror in the hearts of the entire nation.

In the aftermath of the event as the public begins to sort out what happened, questions begin to arise about your organization. Should you have done more to prevent the attack? Were your safety and security measures adequate?

Experiencing the attack was agonizing, but those questions are even worse. Did you miss something key in planning? Would another system or tool have stopped the unthinkable from happening? Could you have foreseen this and prevented it?

Is your facility now liable for the loss and injury of so many innocent people at the hands of a terrorist?
The SAFETY Act might hold some answers to both issues:

1.) how can organizations evaluate their efforts to safeguard their facilities against terrorist attacks and

2.) how can organizations protect themselves against legal action in the event that those efforts fail to stop a terrorist attack.

According to a recent article posted on LATimes.com, the SAFETY Act allows companies to seek verification from the Department of Homeland Security that their security products and services are useful. If approved, the verification can limit the liability in the event the company is sued after an attack.

A quick scan of the SAFETY Act list of approved technologies reveals that not only have products received designations, but office parks, entertainment venues and public park systems have received designations, too, for their policies and procedures.

Even if you are not pursuing verification from the Department of Homeland Security for your facility, it’s worth your time to peruse the list and note the product vendors represented there. It’s a good starting place for considering vendors to enhance the safety and security of your facility.

You’ll see that our partner Shooter Detection Systems, LLC is listed there for their Guardian active shooter detection system. Guardian instantly detects gunshots inside a facility, pinpoints the location and notifies authorities, cutting response time significantly.

Want to know more about making your facility safer and more secure? Contact us at (800) 567-1180 to start the conversation.

What makes a good service partner?

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.