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Posts Tagged ‘Commercial Security’

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.

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 (502) 632-4322 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 (502) 632-4322 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 (502) 632-4322.

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.

Is your community center at risk?

Louisville’s Jewish Community Center was the target of a bomb threat and had to be evacuated recently.


The threat appears to be part of a recent wave of threats and vandalism aimed at Jewish organizations. Since the first of the year, at least 134 bomb threats have been made against 100 locations across the country. Targets include Jewish Community Centers, schools and offices of the Anti-Defamation League.
The Jewish Community Center of Louisville is a vital part of the community, hosting an array of recreational opportunities ranging from swimming classes to art classes to theatre productions. The activities are open to all.
Why would anyone target such an institution?
It’s actually not unusual for religiously-affiliated institutions to be targets of violence and threats. Some are targeted for their beliefs, ethnic or religious makeup. Some are targeted because they are open and accessible by design, so it’s easy for those who wish to do harm to gain entry. Some are simply caught up as collateral damage in situations of domestic violence.
What can religiously-affiliated organizations do to protect themselves and the communities they serve? Here are a few ideas:
Gather stakeholders. Bring together organizational leaders, key staff, community members, legal counsel, insurance representatives and law enforcement. It is important to have a variety of perspectives represented; the different points of view will help you balance addressing risks with the purpose of your organization.
Assess potential threats. Think as comprehensively as possible about risks, which may include bomb threats, active shooters, vandalism, arson or more.
Develop response plans. Local law enforcement and insurance companies may be a good resource here, as well as your facilities maintenance team. Once you’ve developed response plans, communicate them appropriately. Hold regular emergency response training and drills, and distribute plans among key staff members in several locations.
Evaluate monitoring and response systems. Is your security system adequate and up to date? Are cameras, alarms and other elements fully integrated and securely accessible from remote locations? Should your facility consider a shot detection system that automatically detects gun shots and alerts first responders?
ECT Services can help you evaluate your security monitoring and response systems. Call us at (502) 632-4322 for details.

Now is the time to plan an active shooter preparedness drill

Has your organization staged an active shooter preparedness drill? If the answer is no, you are not alone.


According to a recent story in HR Daily Advisor, most companies have not. Despite strong perceptions that an active shooter incident is a top threat, 79 percent of those surveyed don’t fee adequately prepared for such a scenario, and 61 percent have never conducted an active shooter preparedness drill.
In additional, 44 percent don’t have a plan to communicate and escalate alerts.
Need to get your active shooter preparedness efforts off the ground? Take these steps:
Bring stakeholders to the table
Stakeholders will vary based on context, but consider including facility managers, security personnel, local law enforcement and other first responders, employees with significant contact with the public. Each will bring a different, valuable perspective.
Research resources
The Department of Homeland Security has developed education materials including a video, pamphlets and posters aimed at educating the public about what to do in an active shooter situation. Click here for details.
Assessment and education is also available from ECT Services. Contact James Burton at 502.632.4322 or email sales@ectservices.com.
Enhance systems
Consider adding an active shooter detection system to your facility. The award-winning Guardian Shooter Detection System significantly reduces response time by automatically detecting when shots are fired, then instantly reporting the activity to authorities and alerting people in the area.
Interested in learning more? Register for a Live Fire Event to see the system in action.
Get it in writing
Just as will all other emergency policies and procedures, your plan should be written, distributed to all appropriate personnel, and reviewed and updated regularly.
Practice makes perfect
Coordinate with local law enforcement and first responders to conduct an active shooter drill. Communicate to participants and the public when and where the drill will take place, and what they can expect. Surprises drills can set off panic and lead to public safety issues.

Protect your facility from not-so-peaceful protests

Peaceful assembly is a time-honored and Constitutionally-protected right in the United States, and many Americans have exercised that right in recent weeks.

11058927 - protesters crowd landscape background illustration

While the majority of protests have been peaceful, some have attracted participation by a few violent outliers. The activities of these few have disrupted otherwise peaceful actions, threatened public safety and resulted in property damage.

What can you do to keep your facility, staff and customers safe in the event of a public protest? Here are a few steps you can take:

Review emergency plans. You’ve probably got plans in place for tornados, fires and active shooters, but do you have a plan in place for protests? Plans should include key staff members, emergency exit routes, communication channels and more. Local law enforcement and insurance carriers are good resources for developing plans.

Review your insurance coverage.  Does your coverage extend beyond property damage? Do you need a rider to cover damage to special features like plate glass? Does your coverage include business interruption? Nailing down these details now, especially if your facility or one nearby is likely to be the object of a protest, could potentially save you a lot of headaches and expense later.

Review security equipment and systems.  Do security cameras cover all building access points? Are they vulnerable to tampering? Does your system allow secure remote access and monitoring? Are storage systems adequate? Keep in mind that you may not lose access to your facility, and may not regain access for some time. Being able to keep an eye on activity remotely and capture data might be essential.

Review social media and news coverage.  Maintain situational awareness online. Follow protest hashtags, and watch conversations for indications that protests may shift from peaceful to violent. Know how you can contact law enforcement quickly in event of an emergency.