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BUILDING INTEGRATION

Posts Tagged ‘Commercial automation’

Will 2018 be the year artificial intelligence makes a big impact on your business?

As 2017 winds down, trend watchers are looking ahead to 2018 and thinking about the trends taking shape. Artificial Intelligence is top of mind for many.

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI), and what is the difference between AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning? According to techopedia, “Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans.” AI computers might be used for speech recognition, learning, planning and problem solving.

Machine Learning takes AI a step further, allowing computers to be challenged by and learn from new scenarios for testing and adaptation. The goal is for the machines to use pattern recognition and trend detection to “learn” so that it can make independent decisions about similar situations in the future.

Deep Learning collects what Machine Learning computers have learned and uses those algorithms to develop larger networks that mimic the high-powered decision-making capability of the human brain.

AI, Machine Learning and Deep Learning all have significant potential for real-world application, particularly in video security.

The boom in digital video means a voluminous amount of data is available to analyze. Couple that data with more data available via API – weather data, financial data, etc. – and the possibilities for pulling together patterns and making predictions is nearly endless.

“While the technologies aren’t particularly new, this year they have more than ever captured the attention of the market due to various factors: an increase in data that’s available for meaningful analysis, the emergence of hardware devices with high computing power, as well as the maturity of networking infrastructure for both landline and wireless transmissions,” wrote William Pao of a&s International in a recent post on asmag.com.

Some are predicting a boom in AI-driven analysis. “The next step in video analytics is to dive deeper to gain very specific insights into video content, including analyzing human behavior through the use of neural network video analysis. Video will not only be used to track the usual movement of cars and people or detect items left behind, but will also be relied on more frequently to bring behaviors of interest to the attention of security personnel,” said Jammy DeSousa, Senior Product Manager for Security Products for Building Technologies and Solutions at Johnson Controls in the post.

Others are slightly more conservative in their outlook. “Machine or deep-learning is mostly used for video analytics, but I expect the technology will be an important component in many different applications and products in the future. Over time it will become a common tool for software engineers and will be included in many different environments and devices,” said Johan Paulsson, CTO of Axis Communications in the post. “However, the surveillance industry has a history of sometimes over-promising with video analytics, and we are especially conscious of that when it comes to deep learning. We think deep learning has to mature further before it is ready for market in a broader perspective.”

Interested in learning more about new products and integrations on the horizon for 2018? Contact us at (502) 632-4322.

10 energy-saving tips for dark, cold months

The recent arrival of cooler temps dovetailed with the end of Daylight Savings Time, making it feel like the world suddenly went dark and cold and the same time. Is your business or organization still making the adjustment?

These tips will help you maximize energy efficiency during the winter months:

Contact your energy provider and ask if they will help you conduct an energy audit. Many providers provide free audits to customers.

Review your energy usage from last winter season and set targets. How much energy did you use? What was the average daily temp and other conditions? Setting a goal for reducing use might help you keep costs in check.

Check insulation. Make sure it is adequate to meet your needs. Check seals on all duct work to make sure it is sound and air isn’t leaking.

Schedule regular maintenance for your HVAC system to keep it running at peak efficiency. Be sure to change or clean filters, too. Dirty filters make systems worker harder and less efficiently.

Check all vents and returns to make sure they are clear of obstructions. Arrange furniture so air flow is maximized, and keep paper and other debris clear.
Look for leaky doors and windows and seal them. Use caulk and/or weather stripping to seal up energy-sucking gaps throughout your facility. Gaps around plumbing access, electrical outlets and lighting fixtures are often leaky, too. Seal them up and you’ll better maintain temps in your facility.

Use programmable thermostats to maintain temps. Set temps no higher than 67 degrees when your facility is occupied, and drop temps several degrees overnight or when facilities are not in use. You’ll realize substantial savings by dropping your thermostat just two degrees.

Limit the use of space heaters. Not only do they present a fire hazard, they use significant energy and make it difficult to regulate temperatures. Encourage layering clothes or wearing sweaters for personal comfort.

Maximize use of natural light. Open blinds and curtains to allow sunshine in during the day, and close them at night to retain heat.

Monitor lighting use. Use sensors or timers to turn lights on and off automatically. Switch to LED lighting wherever possible. Use smart power strips and sleep settings to operate office equipment efficiently.

Need help monitoring and integrating your HVAC and other key building systems? We can help. Call (502) 632-4322 to learn more.

Could facility improvements help improve student performance?

Maintaining school facilities is a challenge in nearly every school district. Most districts don’t have the funds to adequately resource regular capital improvements, and maintenance is sometimes deferred and systems and equipment are repaired long after they should have been replaced.


It’s no different for Jefferson County Public Schools, which has 155 school buildings, shifting population and a $1.3 billion list of maintenance and new construction projects.
Addressing the maintenance and construction issues is a complex challenge, but the payoffs are considerable, including improved energy efficiency and better utilization of resources, among other things.
But the most important payback of all might be improved student performance. How?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, schools without a major maintenance backlog have a higher average daily attendance of 4 to 5 students per 1,000 and a lower annual dropout rate by 10 to 13 students per 1,000 compared to schools with backlogs.
Check out these other benefits and impacts the EPA cites:

  • Studies that measure school conditions consistently show improved scores on standardized tests as school conditions improve.
  • Controlled studies show that children perform school work with greater speed as air ventilation rates increase, and performance of teachers and staff also improves.
  • Higher ventilation rates have been shown to reduce the transmission of infectious agents in the building, which leads to a drop in sickness and absenteeism.
  • Moderate changes in room temperature affect children’s abilities to perform mental tasks requiring concentration, such as addition, multiplication and sentence comprehension. Poor temperature and humidity regulation can lead to problems with focus.

Well-maintained systems are key to building maintenance, and important for the development, health and safety of students and staff.
We’re always happy to discuss how our solutions can help. Connect with us at the Kentucky School Plant Management Association conference and workshops Oct. 18-19 at the Embassy Suites Hotel at 1801 Newtown Pike in Lexington or call us at (502) 632-4322 to discuss your needs.

ECT Services partners continue growth

Recent weeks have brought news of new integrations, products and acquisitions for several ECT Services partners.

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On December 1, HID Global announced the acquisition of Bluvision, adding enterprise Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to its capabilities.
Bluevision offers real-time location system technology, presence and proximity-based location capabilities and condition monitoring solutions as well as cloud infrastructure, gateways, beacons and software as a service (SaaS).The acquisition will expand HID’s real-time asset tracking capabilities and extend HID’s cloud services for access control and related applications.
HID also announced the launch of the industry’s first end-to-end identity access management solution that offers a single credential for accessing doors, IT systems, networks and data. HID PIV unifies physical and IT security systems, a must for government and regulated industries.
On December 5, Shooter Detection Systems announced that its Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System now integrates with Software House’s C•CURE 9000 access control system.
Then integration will provides the ability for instant shot location information, initiation of lock down procedures, capturing live and recorded video from cameras in the incident related areas, and immediate notification to first responders.
On December 15, target=”_blank”>Axis announced it would begin marketing seven new models of Canon network cameras. According to a press release, the cameras include the VB-S30VE, a compact outdoor mini PTZ dome camera, and the VB-H761LVE, an outdoor fixed box camera with 20 times zoom and IR illumination. Most are designed for outdoor surveillance, and all offer HDTV 1080p resolution in full frame rate.
Looking for innovative, effective building integration solutions? We can connect you to the right partners.

Green doesn’t always mean new; retrofits are on the rise

When you think about green buildings that boast maximum energy efficiency, you probably imagine a newly-constructed building. But that may no longer be the case.

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The green-construction trend is shifting from new construction to retrofitting existing construction, according to a recent post in Contracting Business.

In the wake of the 2008 recession and tighter credit markets, developers found it harder to get new construction projects off the ground. Instead, some have turned their attention to renovating existing buildings.

“The U.S. Green Building Council observed that 61 percent of all construction projects today are retrofits; in many population centers the percentage is much higher,” according to the post.

While not all of those retrofits are “green,” governments are doing what they can to encourage energy efficient upgrades to existing buildings through tools, grants and other special financing arrangements.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy offers several guides and tools for retrofitting existing buildings to be more energy efficient, including Advanced Energy Retrofit Guides, Energy Modeling Software and a Technology Portal that can be accessed to make fact based procurement decisions during a retrofit. Additional government resources are provided here.

The U.S. Senate also recently passed a bill granting up to $200,000 each to non-profit organizations seeking to upgrade facilities to be more energy efficient.

Closer to home, the Louisville Metro Government recently passed an ordinance allowing owners of commercial, industrial and larger multi-unit residential buildings to make energy efficient upgrades to their buildings and pay for them through tax assessments.

If you’ve been considering making some changes to your facility, now may be the time.

Benefits of System Integration

When individual systems are not integrated, facilities staff has to learn how to operate each element separately. These systems can consist of: fire alarm system, HVAC system, access control system, elevator system, lighting system, and even utility metering. Many of the elements associated with these separate systems have to be manually adjusted at different times and through different front-ends. When it comes to better facilities management and truly efficient methods, system integration needs to be established. The following benefits of system integration can make facilities management more efficient:

Single Work Station

System integration allows facilities managers to work from a single work station. Problems can be solved and changes can be made with a few clicks rather than visiting multiple computer systems. It simplifies the process and makes it easy to manage.

Energy Savings

Integration can reduce energy consumption and bring significant energy savings. Tying together and monitoring temperature fluctuations as well as making necessary adjustments or repairs to equipment can produce energy savings almost immediately.

Lower Labor Costs and Improve Operations

Reduced energy consumption isn’t the only benefit, companies see reduced labor costs through streamlined operations.

Improve Response Time

When integration is done properly, real-time alerts (Alarms) will be sent and can potential generate work orders (if the proper systems are in place). Many software companies now offer mobile capabilities, so management can get alerts through their mobile phone or other device.

Performance

Integrated systems perform well and should be easy to use.  A good partnership with your system integrator is crucial to maintain and keep your system in tune with the dynamic changes of your facility.

Data Collection

The wealth of data that is collected by systems integration will lead to better decision making. Data ranges from the temperature fluctuation, routine maintenance, to power outages and underperforming facilities.

Software and Device Compatibility

Most modern vendors make software products that are compatible with each other. Communication protocols also aid in integration of systems and products (ie. BACnet, LON, MODbus).

 Multiple Sites

Integration can include multiple buildings on multiple sites, and is not limited to one individual building.

Work with your system integrators on a plan to help bring your building systems together.  ECT Services can help!

 

…Dave Stumler

Energy Management Starts at Home.

There has been a lot of attention lately to the home energy management technology arena. Home energy management products range from simple devices like power strips and programmable thermostats which are the most recognizable.  These devices can be remotely or automatically controlled and even more sophisticated home automation systems can be put in place.

With the increase in energy usage and cost there has been a lot of innovation and development taking place. I suspect people are starting to wonder, “Should I install any of these products and what benefit will I get from them if I do? “

The Utilities and energy management industry has been working together to develop a system for the homeowner and businesses to implement programs to get incentives to reduce their energy consumption.

This can be accomplished by simple rebates on the energy management devices to the utilities issuing rebates on Energy Star appliances and credits on your monthly bill from demand conservation.

Presently, a simple form of energy savings for the homeowner would be to replace their incandescent lighting and add a programmable thermostat. With the lighting you have several choices. You can use the CFL style or the new LED’s. The programmable stats have evolved from simple to somewhat sophisticated. They can be easily controlled at the device, through a smartphone app or even a manufacture’s account. Either version works well and is relatively easy to install and operate.  Even if you had not been too diligent with your thermostat in the past you will definitely reduce your heating and cooling cost.

Down the road, many more products will become available, and they will become simple enough for the homeowner to use. Hopefully all of the products will become more cost effective, either by themselves or with rebates or other incentives.

A final thought. As we have said before there are steps for the homeowner to take in the quest to reduce energy usage and cost. It begins with conservation and changing those habits that cause more energy consumptions. Next it pays to ensure that all energy consuming devices in the home, and your home itself are the most energy efficient they can be.

Utilizing Existing Infrastructure

As the security, CCTV and intercom industries continue their move toward greater reliance on IP infrastructure, our customers are asking for more involvement if not outright ownership from their internal IT support groups. How the systems are designed to minimize the potential impact to corporate network resources go a long way to obtaining support from the customer IT support staff.

We are seeing greater demand for migrating away from the centralized security platforms that require dedicated panels, head-end equipment and homerun cabling. Customer requests are moving security products and control to the “edge”. Much of this interest is driven by the possibility of significant cost savings in both material and labor for a security project as well as the increased flexibility and greater functionality available when the systems are placed on the corporate network.

The potential cost savings are typically balanced against an increase in scope for the structured cabling and network infrastructure requirements to meet the needs of the edge devices. Additionally, IT groups may have additional requirements in terms of maintenance allowances and services required for the upkeep of additional devices requiring corporate network access.

Overcoming these challenges will allow the customer security staff to utilize new remote access capabilities to become more efficient and can allow combining multiple systems into a single point of monitor for a consistent application of existing security processes. Upcoming features will require the security system products to increasingly fit into existing IT support standards as we all become more reliant on the IT world.

Anthony Tatman
Security Controls Engineer

It’s amazing what happens when you show up!

It’s amazing what happens when you show up!

This is one of our favorite sayings at ECT Services, Inc. It expresses our belief that when we show up to meet with customers or new potential clients, great things happen for them and for us!
There are lots of ways to “show up”, such as an introduction meeting, a networking event, a service call, a project meeting, and even social media is a way in which we “show up”.
We are excited to provide this blog space to bring meaningful discussions and thoughts about the customers and industries we serve. Our hope is by “showing up” in this manner, it brings value to the readers and sparks some interesting thoughts and even conjure up new ideas.
At ECT Services we design, develop, install and integrate technology systems, such as temperature controls, energy management, lighting, security, intrusion, and intercom.
We are an independent technology provider, in the business of making buildings sustainable, maintainable, energy efficient and safe.

Why is being “independent” important?

Did you know that only fifteen (15) cents of every dollar spent by national providers goes to support the local economy, while fifty-five (55) cents of every dollar spent with local independent providers goes to support the local economy. This is a huge variance and impactful when you think about how it impacts your organization.
Our vision is to be the premier independent provider of building technology solutions in the Ohio Valley.
Our mission is two-fold:
“To be the lifelong technology partner with our customers by exploring new and innovative technology solutions from implementation and continued service with integrity and confidence.”

“Our desire is for our customers to have an excellent experience while helping them make their buildings sustainable, maintainable, energy efficient and safe.“

We look forward to providing many interesting topics and discussions in the coming days. If you have not done so, please check out our website at www.ectservices.com
Regards,
Jeff Murphy
President and CEO
ECT Services, Inc.