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Posts Tagged ‘Commercial Security’

Floods = fires? Sounds crazy, but it’s true

Spring and summer often mean severe weather in the Ohio Valley. In addition to the typical storms caused by weather fronts rolling in from the west, the remnants of tropical storms and hurricanes occasionally sweep up from the south. Both can bring deluges and flash flooding.

 

Flooding brings a particular set of safety risks. The National Fire Prevention Association offers these six tips for managing electrical risks brought on by storms:

• Keep in touch with local authorities, and be prepared to turn off utilities and propane tanks as instructed.
• Don’t ever drive into flooded areas, even if water is only a few inches deep. The current could be much stronger than you realize, and the water can conceal or distort hazards like holes and washed out roadways.
• Every downed wire is a live wire, whether you see sparks or not. Call the utility company immediately if you spot any downed wires in your area, and do not approach. Downed wires are a risk not only in flash flooding situations, but in storms with high winds.
• If you smell gas in your area, do not turn on any lights or equipment. Even the smallest spark could trigger an explosion.
• If your facility is flooded, don’t turn power back on until you it has been inspected – including equipment – and either been remediated or declared safe to operate.
• If you choose to use gas generators to power equipment, be sure to operate it safely. Carbon monoxide poisoning due to improper ventilation is a real risk. Operate generators outdoors only, well away from doors, windows and other openings and well away from air intake for HVAC systems.

Review these safety tips with your team, and be sure to add them to your emergency plans and procedures with other safety policies. All emergency plans should be reviewed annually and updated as necessary.

Fire safety systems should be reviewed and updated regularly, too. An updated, integrated system runs more efficiently and offers better protection. Interested in learning more about our fire systems? Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

Axis provides big league security for the Little League World Series venue

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

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

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

But who will be keeping an eye on them?

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

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

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

Shut the front door with good password practices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are veterans at risk of becoming mass shooters?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 (800) 567-1180.

Is “reducing false alarms” on your radar?

… It’s on Axis’ radar, too.

The network video leader recently rolled out a new offering: motion-detecting radar.

The Axis D2050-VE uses radar technology to minimize false alarms triggered by spiders, small animals, shadows and light reflections. Once motion is detected, the device can trigger camera recording and/or activate a horn or lights to deter unauthorized access to property or a facility. The radar can be used alongside cameras with video motion detection, and can be used to track movement with PTZ cameras.

Reducing false alarms is key to good security. Not only are false alarms annoying, they impact operational readiness. Repeated false alarms fatigue personnel, and can make it possible for more credible threats to be disregarded.

“Radar closes a gap as it offers good area coverage, detects movement with high accuracy, and reduces false alarms,” explained Andres Vigren, Global Product Manager, Axis Communications, in a press release. “Compared to simple motion detectors, AXIS D2050-VE provides additional information of detected objects which allows for auto tracking with Axis PTZ cameras. Customers can now easily add proven radar technology to their existing or new surveillance systems to protect their premises.”

The radar detector was designed to be used in medium industrial installations. While its effectiveness is maximized when part of a complete surveillance system, it can also be used as a standalone tool. It integrates with other Axis products, including cameras and management software, and is also compatible with other systems thanks to its open interface design.

The Axis D2050-VE Network Radar Detector is wall mounted detector and designed for outdoor use. It offers detection coverage of 120 degrees and 164 feet, and is powered by Power over Ethernet Plus (PoE+). The Axis D2050-VE has IP66, IK08 and NEMA 4X ratings for tough environments, and can be operated in temperatures ranging from -40°C to 60°C (-40 to 140°F), well within the typical temperature range for the Ohio Valley.

Interested in learning more? Contact our team at (800) 567-1180 for more information about Axis products.

Could an ‘Airborne’ Bluetooth attack put your facility at risk?

A new attack aimed at every computer, mobile device, smart TV or other IoT device running on Android, Linux, Windows, and pre-version 10 of iOS operating systems could open up your systems and facilities to number of significant vulnerabilities.

The newly-identified “BlueBorne” vector “allows attackers to take control of devices, access corporate data and networks, penetrate secure ‘air-gapped’ networks, and spread malware laterally to adjacent devices, according to digital security experts at Armis.

Unlike other malicious digital attacks, BlueBorne requires no action on the part of the user to work. It’s an “airborne” attack that spreads through Bluetooth connections. Users don’t have to click a link, download an app, or take any other action to spread the attack. It simply spreads itself.

Once BlueBorne gains access to a device, the device can be exploited for espionage, theft, ransom or DDoS attacks.

Considering the rapid growth of IoT connected devices, and the prevalence of the use of mobile devices to control everything from building access to critical systems, both IT and facility managers should rightly be concerned.

But according to HID, users of its products have limited exposure to risk. Its HID iClass SE readers are unaffected by BlueBorne.

Mobile devices that interact with their readers could be at risk of infection, however. To reduce risk and avoid infection, all mobile device users who interact with HID readers should be instructed to download the latest security updates for their device, and make sure they are kept up to date. All devices which run on iOS 9.3.5 or lower smart devices are affected, as are all Bluetooth-capable Android devices with that have not yet been updated to the latest Android security update released by Google in September.

Another route for concerned Android users would be to disable Bluetooth and rely on Near Field Communication (NFC) to access facilities.

For concerns about other types of systems that rely on Bluetooth or interact with Bluetooth-connected devices, contact the manufacturer of those products for specific details. You can also contact our IT team at (800) 567-1180 for system design information and guidance.

Teacher’s preparation leads to lives saved.

A teacher played a key role in putting an end to a school shooting.


When a student at Mattoon High School in rural eastern Illinois opened fire in the cafeteria, Angela McQueen sprang into action, subduing the shooter and preventing him from wounding or injuring others. As a result of the physical education teacher’s quick action, just one student was injured by bullets and no one was killed.

Authorities pointed to training as contributing to McQueen’s successful takedown of the shooter.

“Lives were saved by the quick response of a teacher here,” Mattoon police Chief Jeff Branson said at press conference Wednesday evening, as reported in the Champaign, Illinois News-Gazette. “She had been trained, obviously, but in these scenarios, you just don’t know what happens until it happens.”

Training for emergency situations like active shooters or natural disasters may seem dull, repetitive or entirely unnecessary, but it is the key to success for response and risk reduction. An associate at a Dallas staffing firm realized the importance of her recent training when an active shooter went on a rampage in her office building, and she had to keep herself and several new employees safe.

What can your organization learn from the latest school shooting?

Don’t take training for granted. Make sure every member of your team is trained to respond in the case of any type of emergency – active shooter, fire, weather event, etc. It’s not enough to simply hand out a manual or give a PowerPoint presentation. Training should include active participation including role playing, walking through escape and shelter in place routes, and more.

Regularly review policies and procedures. Look for gaps in plans, and fill those gaps wherever possible. Take into account key learnings from other live situations, research, recommendations from other organizations and more.
Review safety systems regularly. Maintain current systems, and consider adding new ones.

Gunshot detection systems are a fairly new entry to the market. Much as a smoke or fire detection system automatically alerts building occupants to potential danger, gunshot detection systems automatically alert and respond to shots fired in a facility.

Learn more about our Guardian active shooter detection systems at an upcoming Live Fire event.

Convergence of security and communications

Security systems and communications systems used to be two entirely different propositions.


Security teams were responsible for evaluating and procuring video cameras, ID badge systems and the like for their particular use cases. They oversaw the installation and use of those systems, and owned any associated data.

Communications systems were typically owned by IT teams. They evaluated and procure phone and conferencing systems for their particular use cases; oversaw the installation and use, and owned any associated data from those systems.

Security and communications systems operated differently, with no connection, often on entirely different networks.

All that is changing. The move away from analog systems to digital was the first step towards converging security and communications systems. The next step is figuring out how to make disparate IT and security systems work together and exchange data.
Through its DevConnect program, Avaya, a segment leader in communications systems, has opened the door to convergence a little more. The program empowers partners to create, verify and market Avaya-enabled solutions. DevConnect offers access to almost all SDKs offered by Avaya products, as well as technical education, tutorials and sample applications, forums, and in some cases, technical developer support on the use of Avaya APIs.

Axis, an ETC Services partner and market leader in security systems, is an active participant in Avaya’s DevConnect program. Through the partnership, they’ve developed integrations between their Network Door Stations and Avaya systems. Axis Network Door stations combine communication, video surveillance and remote entry control into a single device, and allows users to identify visitors and grant them access to a facility from a single platform, from anywhere in the world.

Perhaps more powerfully, converging the security and communications systems means data can be combined. Security data that was once entirely separate can now be integrated with other data streams and used for other business purposes, extending the value.

For more on how Avaya and Axis are partnering together, listen to this episode from the Avaya DevConnect 8 & Out podcast.

Active shooters are a liability risk

If an active shooter targets your facility, will your insurance policy protect you against claims from victims?

It’s hard to tell.

Current insurance policies aren’t clear, and neither is case law. That leaves open the possibility that if an active shooter causes harm in your facility, you could be open to a lawsuit from victims, and your insurance provider might push back against covering you.
As a result, some carriers are now offering stand along active shooter policies, according to a post on InsuranceJournal.com.

One program cited in the article includes liability coverage for “lawsuits arising from harm caused by attacks using deadly weapons.” The program also features risk assessment and crisis management services, as well as event responders and post-event counseling services.
Insurers originally began by offering the coverage to educational institutions, but now the coverage is offered to all types, including hospitals, sporting venues, retailers, religious organizations and more.

Business and organizations should also consider including fully integrated shooter detection systems alongside other safety and comfort systems like fire detection and suppression systems and HVAC systems.

Shooter Detection System’s Guardian uses acoustic and infrared sensors to instantly identify gunshots inside a facility. 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. Guardian gunshot detection can also be integrated with a number of other systems, including text alerts, incident management dashboards and building systems like door locks and video surveillance.

The instantaneous response significantly cuts response time and reduces the opportunity for human error.

Interested in learning more about the Guardian active shooter detection system? Register now for one of our Live Fire events to see a live demonstration, or call us at (800) 567-1180.