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Posts Tagged ‘Controls’

It’s time for seasonal maintenance

Weren’t we shivering under a blanket of snow just a couple of weeks ago? Then temps became warmer, with sunshine abundant, and spring fever started setting in. Of course, then it snowed last night.

Spring will officially start on March 20. Between now and then we could see several inches of snow, afternoon highs in the 80s, tornadoes, floods and just about anything in between. If you have any doubts, just check your Facebook memories and you’ll probably see evidence of all of these weather conditions on this day over the last several years.

With spring on the way, now is the time to tackle some routine maintenance and seasonal tasks. Put these on your to-do list now:

Check outside lighting. Walk your parking areas and around the outside of your facility. Look for outside lighting that may have been damaged during snowy, icy weather. Look for light bulbs that have burned out and replace them.

Check landscaping. Flower beds, parking lot islands, sidewalks and lawn areas might have taken a beating when being plowed, scraped and salted this winter. Look for signs of damage and note needed repairs. Look for potholes in parking lots that need repair, and significant gaps or cracks in sidewalks that can cause slips and falls.

Check security cameras and alarms. Review the placement and condition of all inside and outside cameras. Inspect wiring, and check placement to be sure views haven’t shifted or otherwise been compromised.

Clean or change HVAC filters and schedule routine maintenance. Pollen is already flying, and more will be in the air soon. Cleaning or changing out filters is a must to keep allergen levels down inside your facility. Plus, the system is likely to have trapped a lot of debris over the winter months; cleaning or changing the filter is a must for keeping the system running at peak efficiency.

Review severe weather policies and procedures. Tornado season is already underway. Schedule a drill with your team and make sure they all know what to do in the case of severe weather. Update checklists and rosters, especially is you’ve welcomed new team members or made other personnel changes since your last drill.

If you’d like to know more about how you can optimize and integrate your building systems, call us at (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

Will the Internet of Things take new ground in 2018?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is going to be awesome and change the way we do everything.

Just as soon as we figure out what it is.

That’s one finding from a study conducted earlier this year by trade groups in the UK. According to the study, more than 40 percent of respondents were unfamiliar with the term “Internet of Things.”

So, what exactly is IoT? According to Techopedia, “The internet of things (IoT) is a computing concept that describes the idea of everyday physical objects being connected to the internet and being able to identify themselves to other devices. … The IoT is significant because an object that can represent itself digitally becomes something greater than the object by itself. No longer does the object relate just to its user, but is now connected to surrounding objects and database data. When many objects act in unison, they are known as having ‘ambient intelligence.’”
In lay terms, that means that all sorts of appliances and equipment and tools can now talk to each other, making it possible to optimize for efficiency, gather data and more.

IoT has been at the top of annual trend lists for several years running, according to Energy Manager Today, but still has a ways to go before fully taking hold as the way commercial, industrial and manufacturing facilities are built and operated.
What are the barriers to full IoT adoption?

Legacy systems and piecemeal approaches. Retrofitting existing systems is a challenge.

Security. Some IoT products and tools have been used to exploit internet security weaknesses and launch attacks. That’s on top of the risk of having sensitive internal data available on the internet for exposure. It’s a concern for facilities managers and security professionals that must be overcome.

Funding. Upgrading can be an expensive proposition, especially if the business case isn’t clear.

What’s keeping you from fully embracing IoT for your facility? Where does it make sense to move forward with proven applications? How can IoT be installed securely? We can walk you through these questions and more. Call us at (800) 567-1180.

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.

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.

Proposed ordinance could make green improvements more attractive for business owners

If you’ve been putting off energy and conservation improvements because of cost, the Louisville Metro Government may be on the verge of putting those improvements within reach, according to a recent story in the Louisville Courier-Journal.

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Metro Government is considering a proposal which would enable 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. The ordinance was proposed by Bill Hollander, D-9th District.

Such improvements as HVAC upgrades, chillers, boilers, and furnaces, water heating systems, energy management systems and controls, mechanical system modernizations, lighting upgrades, and solar, wind turbines and geothermal heating and cooling, as well as water efficiency measures such as water management systems and controls would be qualified under the measure.

The ordinance requires no taxpayer dollars. It would create an Energy Project Assessment District, or EPAD, allowing property owners to acquire private financing to make their improvements and then repay the loans via an assessment collected by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s office over a term of up to 20 years, according to the story. The loan attaches to the property rather than the borrower, and transfer upon sale of the property.

The proposed ordinance was assigned to the Labor and Economic Development Committee at the Metro Council’s meeting on April 14, and was placed on the agenda for the committee’s April 19 meeting. Members of the committee include Chair Person Cheri Bryant Hamilton (D-5), Vice Chair Stuart Benson (R-20), Pat Mulvihill (D-10), Marianne Butler (D-15) and Robin Engel (R-22).

According to the Kentucky Conservation Committee, thirty other states have already passed legislation enabling the creation of EPAD. Several cities in Kentucky have created EPADs, and one project in Northern Kentucky has been funded.

Check out more facts about EPAD here.

Spring has sprung – are your systems ready?

Spring has sprung, and the change in season is a good reminder to review your HVAC and lighting systems to keep them operating at peak efficiency. The following may need your attention:


Spring HVAC servicing. The weather is getting warmer, and AC units need to be inspected to keep them operating at peak efficiency. A qualified technician will program your thermostat and check related system controls, inspect and test electrical connections and system components, clean and lubricate moving parts, inspect and clean the drain to prevent moisture problems and replace the air filter.

Lighting controls. Now that the time has changed, review your indoor and outdoor lighting timers and adjust accordingly. Need to know what time sunrise/sunset will come to your neighborhood? Check here.

Now is also good time to inspect lighting systems, too. Check for loose wires and replace burned out light bulbs.

Temperature controls. Warmer weather means adjustments should be made to maximize efficiency. During the summer, set air conditioning temperature controls to 78 degrees during peak hours when cooling is needed, and a higher temperature outside of those hours when less cooling is needed.

Air filters. You might be tempted to throw open the windows on pleasant spring days and let the breezy sunshine regulate the temperature in your facility. While spring breezes feel wonderful, they also carry a wealth of pollen and other allergens that could make life miserable for allergy sufferers. Install fresh air filters in systems, and consider purchasing air purifying units to keep staff and guests comfortable.

You’ll find more energy saving tips for businesses here.

New product releases signal innovation for building integration


Steve Jobs once said, “Innovation is the difference between a leader and a follower.” Several ECT Services partners have been busy lately, leading their industries with important innovations. Here’s a round-up:

The relay of critical information in active shooter situations just picked up a whole lot of speed, thanks to a new project between Active Shooter Systems and Desktop Alerts.

The two companies recently announced new integrations which accurately pinpoint an active shooter as soon as the first shot is fired, then issue alerts via social media, speaker systems, computer monitors, telephones, mobile devices and fire alarms.

HID has released new transponders and tags specially designed for on metal applications. The new tags support NFC-V standards, expanding the possibilities for use in industrial, Internet of Things applications.

Axis Communications has launched a new tool aimed at streamlining security system design. AXIS Site Designer works online and offline to recommend cameras and recording solutions for small and mid-sized systems. Site Designer includes templates for a variety of security requirements and gives interactive guidance on the selection of cameras, recording products and accessories needed for a complete surveillance solution.

For updates on the latest building integration products available, contact ECT Services.

Meet the team: James Burton

In the days that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks, James Burton just wanted to make the world a safer place. He enlisted in the Marines, and served two year-long tours in Iraq.

More than a decade later, he still wants to make the world a safer place. In a world where gun rampages seem to occur every few weeks, he sees Active Shooter Detection Services as a means to accomplish that goal.

As a combat veteran, James brings a deep understanding of what it is like to be in an active shooter situation. He understands the stresses that come from surprise attacks, and he understands that perpetrators are seeking out soft targets and attempting to cause the most damage in the shortest amount of time. He’s applied the three As of an active shooter response – assessment, accurate information and appropriate response – and he understands how and why they work.

James sees Active Shooter Detection Services as an amazing piece of technology — the technology assesses the situation faster than humans can because it takes out the confusion, purely using infrared and sound sensors to know what’s happened. It allows for accurate information to be communicated faster since it directly calls the proper authorities, and this allows for an appropriate response to happen faster — and this leads to saving lives.

“Ultimately, I want to make sure my child is safe,” says James, who is now the father of a toddler. “If we can make it mainstream, I fully believe we can save lives.” Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 10.17.07 AM

James is currently meeting with K-12 schools, universities, hospitals, corporate offices and houses of worship to evaluate their needs. He firmly believes that Active Shooter Detection services should be part of all new construction or building renovation planning, just like fire detection and suppression, video surveillance and other safety features. He also notes that existing buildings can  be effectively retrofitted with the system.

To reach James directly, please contact him at (502) 931-1118.

Eight tips for festive and energy efficient holidays

Getting ready to deck the halls for the holiday enjoyment of your customers and employees? You can create a festive and comfortable atmosphere without driving up energy costs.

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Here’s how:

  • Swap out old strands of light with newer light-emitting diode (LED) strands. You might pay a little more now, but LED lights use just a fraction of the power consumed by traditional strands and last years longer.
  • Consider decorations which add color and texture, but don’t require electricity.
  • Use a timer to automatically turn lights off and on. If you choose not to use a timer, turn off interior decoration lights during non-business hours, and turn off exterior lights during the day when they will not be visible anyway.
  • Keep the thermostat set to around 66 degrees, where most people are comfortable. If an area is unused, drop the thermostat to 55 degrees. Use timers to adjust thermostats automatically to lower temps outside of business hours when spaces are not occupied.
  • If you use ceiling fans, be sure to reverse them from summer settings and use them to keep warm air circulating.
  • Be sure to perform regular maintenance on HVAC systems before cold weather sets in to ensure systems are performing at peak efficiency.
  • Check insulation. Seal up leaks, and install insulation in walls and ceilings where necessary.
  • Install doors that open and close automatically.

Follow these tips, and you will set a festive tone, all while reducing the post-holiday headache caused by a high energy bill.