December 11th, 2019

Innovation seems inherently forward looking. When we innovate, we make something new happen.

But can looking back help drive innovation?

As the year draws to a close, now seems like a good time to pause and reflect. The past year offered a lot of good lessons if we choose to pay attention and learn them. It would be a shame to waste those lessons. These questions and thought starters will help spark some worthwhile reflections:

How did we perform against goals? If you haven’t been keeping score throughout the year, now is a good time to revisit goals set at the beginning of the year and see how you did. Be sure to assess sales goals, service targets, revenue targets and other performance metrics. What drove success? Where did you fall short, and why?

Take a look over time. Break down performance and achievements by month. Were some months better than others? Did one poor month drag down the rest of the year? It’s also helpful to revisit performance year over year. Are you spotting seasonal trends? How can you make the most of them?

Put it in context. Step back and look at the larger picture. Other useful contextual measures might include the overall economy. If your business is strongly impacted by the local economy, look at what was going on regionally. Did new events or business expansions give your own performance a lift? If so, look ahead for similar opportunities in the coming year. What lessons did you learn this year that will enhance lift even more next year when a similar opportunity emerges?

Do over. If you could go back and make just one decision differently this year, what would it be? Does that decision change future decisions or processes?

What sparked your interest this year? Take a look back at new products, tools, features or services that launched in the last year. Think beyond your industry. What was most exciting to you? Are there connections or applications for your work?

Who made an impact on you? As you look back over the last year, what new person brought the most value to your life, and why?

November 26th, 2019

This post from Campus Safety sparked my thinking about innovation. The premise of the post is that digital signage can and should be deployed for use in emergencies when notification is critical. I’m always intrigued by creative solutions that seem obvious once they are pointed out, and this example definitely qualifies as a slap-to-the-forehead, “why didn’t I think of that?!” moment.

The idea is potentially simple: post messaging on cloud-based, networked digital signs to communicate across school, hospital or other large campuses in the event of an emergency. Those menu boards in the cafeteria, the wayfinding displays in the lobby, the screens near the elevators, etc. can all be deployed to alert people to an imminent threat and direct them to safety.

The idea illustrates the power of innovation at work. Here’s how:

Innovation solves a problem. Text-based alerts have become the go-to for most organizations. But even as ubiquitous as smart phones have come to be, they are not the end-all, be-all for notifications in emergencies. They require users to opt-in for notifications, to have alerts turned on, and to pay attention when a message is received. How can we solve that problem? Looking at other communication channels – in this case digital signage – in a fresh new way is one solution.

Innovation doesn’t mean spontaneous and unplanned. On the contrary, innovation most often deploys considerable thought and planning. Utilizing digital signage in an emergency will require advance planning and documentation. You’ll need to have a thorough understanding of who owns the devices, how they are managed, access, permission levels and more. You’ll need to map out when and how they will be deployed in an emergency, and get signoff from stakeholders. All of this will require a thorough, thoughtful approach. Innovation doesn’t just “happen.”

Innovation pushes everyone outside of what they expect. People expect to get alerts on their phones. Our phones alert us about things all the time, from social media notifications to incoming email alerts and a thousand other things. After a while, it’s difficult to take those alerts seriously and they just become white noise. But if the digital menu I’m reading suddenly changes to warn me that there’s a tornado bearing down on campus and I need to take shelter in a nearby safe room, I’m likely to pay attention. I don’t expect to see that warning there, and the bright colors and motion graphics convey emotion and urgency I won’t necessarily get in a text.

Here at ECT Services, we pride ourselves on developing innovative approaches. Need a new solution that builds on current systems? Call us for a consultation today.

November 25th, 2019

I’m always on the lookout for great stories highlighting innovation and integration and this recent post from ASIS really caught my eye.

The story details the Detroit Institute of the Arts’ approach to updating their security system. Given our partnership with the Speed Museum in their renovation and our deep relationship with Axis the story was especially intriguing.

The DIA was long overdue for security overhaul when Eric Drewry, CPP, took them helm as director of security in 2015. Museum visitors can wreak havoc on exhibits both accidentally and intentionally. DIA  needed a solution that would protect the art collection while not disrupting the visitors’ experience.

A few key insights from the solution:

Keep your customer central. Designing a solution to keep valuable artwork safe could be very straightforward; lock it all up in a vault and it will never get damaged, lost or stolen. But keeping artwork safe isn’t the entire goal. Preserving art for the enjoyment and edification of the public is the goal, and it’s difficult to engage with artwork that is locked away or otherwise inaccessible.

DIA kept museum visitors central. The security system functions like a channel for dialog between museum staff and visitors. Staff uses the solution to gather data points about traffic patterns and issues to gain insights into visitor needs. For instance, staff observed that visitors were consistently getting too close to a particular object to peer at notes on the artist and work. They determined that more prominent signage was needed to help visitors engage with the work while keeping a safe distance.

Keep your context in mind. Like many public buildings – the Speed definitely comes to mind – the facility was historic and additions had been added throughout the years. We have significant understanding of how important innovation is in retrofitting systems in historic buildings. The infrastructure didn’t lend itself to cables and wires required for high tech equipment.

Fortunately, Axis’ camera line was a perfect fit. Axis modular cameras required only one cable for four cameras, and the cameras’ quality and coverage made it possible to cover an entire gallery with just four cameras and one cable. That saved a lot of risk and resources and helped gain efficiencies in cost and installation.

Need an innovative partner for your systems integration project? We can help. Call (800) 567-1180 to connect for a consultation.

November 13th, 2019

The use cases for video in healthcare settings stretch far beyond the typical security applications, according to Ty Miller, business development manager for healthcare for Genetec, one of our partner vendors. Miller recently shared a number of innovative healthcare use cases for video on the Dell PowerChat podcast.

Video is powerful tool for enhancing the patient experience, says miller. Hospitals and other provider facilities are becoming increasingly focused on the patient experience and are recognizing patients as consumers. Just as retailers are using video to enhance the consumer experience, health care providers are now using video to enhance the patient experience. Here are a few of the ways video can be used to enhance the patient experience:

Detecting drug diversion. Drug diversion – the theft of drugs from facilities – cost health care payors and others an estimated $75 billion a year. Those costs eventually get passed on to the consumer in a variety of ways, including higher costs for services. Video can be used in concert with other security systems to control access and deter diversion.

Optimize safety. “Being able to limit wandering patients is one example of how we can optimize safety in [healthcare] environments,” said Miller. It’s not unusual for patients suffering from dementia or other issues to become confused and find their way out of facilities and into dangerous situations. Integrated access control and safety systems can use tags to detect patient location, confirm location with video and redirect patients back to safety quickly before they are at risk.

Fall risk reduction. Thermal cameras can detect if a patient has fallen or is about to fall without revealing their identity or compromising their dignity.

“Thermal imaging technology protects privacy,” says Miller, and doesn’t violate HIPAA, all while preventing further injury or summoning help quickly.

Offers context with integrated systems. Systems designed to prevent infants from being kidnapped from hospital maternity floors are sensitive and often produce false alarms. Video instantly offers contextualization that can help reduce false alarms by work seamlessly with other systems to verify identity at key access points, says Miller.

Hands-free access control. Video cameras can also offer facial recognition for workstation sign on and access control. In a facility where workers may be pushing carts or wheelchairs, carrying supplies or trying to limit the surfaces to reduce the spread of infections, hands-free sign on offers increased efficiency and safety.

Interested in exploring innovating new use cases to improve the customer experience? We’d be happy to chat.

November 1st, 2019

Who keeps your integrated building solutions running smoothly? That would be Jeff Stivers, one of our newest service technicians.

John joined our team earlier this year and has enjoyed his first six months as part of the team serving our clients across the region. His favorite part about the ECT Services team is feeling like he is part of one big family.

His first job felt much the same way, because he literally was a member of the family! His first job was on the family farm. Maybe that’s why he prefers cattle to cats or dogs. When he’s not working, you’ll find him hovering around his smokehouse, firing up the smoker with a beef brisket inside.

We’re glad to have Jeff as a part of the team, and a part of our family, too.

October 30th, 2019

Every organization needs a nerve center that knows what’s going on and who is doing what. For ECT Services, that’s Jennifer Janney. Jennifer is responsible for coordinating services and billing. She joined the team recently, but in just one month has quickly become part of our family.

Jennifer, pictured right, with her “surrogate mom,” a major influencer in her life, and the woman who her mother says made Jennifer a better daughter.

 Jennifer might be new to the ECT Services team, but she’s not new to service. She has more than 40 years of experience in serving customers.

Jennifer brings with her an understanding of how powerful a “personal touch” is in creating a lasting impression. Her favorite birthday gift isn’t jewelry or some other expensive bauble. It’s a framed photograph of herself, her daughter and her dearest friend sharing a moment at a significant historic event. The photo carries a special personal inscription on the back. While the photo may not be significant or meaningful to someone else, the personal connection makes it significant and meaningful to Jennifer.

She understands the importance of nurturing meaningful connections and appreciating what’s valuable from the customer’s point of view. We’re delighted to have her on our team, and as part of our family.

October 17th, 2019

Halloween used to be a strictly neighborhood affair. On October 31, kids raced home after school, donned their costumes, then headed out with sacks in hand for trick or treating.

Today it’s blossomed into a community-wide affair. In the weeks leading up to Halloween, schools, churches and even businesses get in on the fun by hosting festivals or trunk or treat events.

These extracurricular activities are a great way opportunities for community and employee relations, but they do pose some safety risks. Here’s how to mitigate those risks and enjoy your event:

Bring safety to the table. While safety should be everyone’s job, at least one person on your planning team should be tasked with reviewing all plans. Responsibility should include identifying trip and fall hazards, cordoning off equipment and areas that are unsafe for non-employees, and traffic planning.

Get security involved early, too. The planning team should also include a leader tasked with security. Security might focus on how to prevent children or dependent adults and their adult guardians from getting separated from each other, how to handle disruptions and loss prevention.

Change perspective. If you event is planned for outside of your normal operating hours, and in particular for after dark, be sure to do a thorough walk-through in and around your facility at that time of the day. Traffic patterns change considerably throughout the day, and might look quite different during your event than they do during normal operating hours. The parking lot and facility look different, too. Scope out those differences by doing a thorough walk through in advance.

Include contingency plans and safety drills. Guests at your facility won’t know what to do in the event of sudden inclement weather, a fire, or some other emergency. Make sure staff and volunteers are fully prepared to respond. Staff and volunteers should know their responsibilities in an emergency and should be prepared to guide guests to safety.

Review security and access controls. Now is a good time to ensure that your facility’s video and access control systems are performing well. Cameras may need to be adjusted to accommodate different traffic patterns. Access control may need to be modified to lock down certain areas while opening up others. It’s a good time to review the flexibility and configurability of your system.

October 15th, 2019

Your business has been struck by a criminal. They were able to break in and make off with thousands of dollars worth of valuable equipment and inventory. Your cameras didn’t capture clear images of the perpetrator or their transportation, but there’s a good chance that better images might be available from other businesses along your street.

But it may take days before police are able to identify cameras, track down owners and get their permission to view footage.

Thanks to Genetec, there’s now a solution to that problem.

When it comes to preventing and solving crime, public and private entities now have a new collaborative tool at their fingertips.

Genetec announced today the release of a new camera registry module for its Genetec Clearance platform. Genetec Clearance is a digital evidence management system.

“The Genetec Clearance camera registry allows organizations to reduce the time to fulfill access requests and share video evidence between stakeholders operating across different systems, departments, and jurisdictions,” said Erick Ceresato, Genetec Product Manager in a company press release. “The technology allows organizations to maximize the use of their staffing and provides investigators faster access to evidence to help enhance their response, and focus on public safety within their communities.”

According to the release from Genetec, the new camera registry module simplified the video request process. The registry allows organization to share a registry of their cameras and allow authorized users to request captured video footage from relevant cameras to aid in investigations.

The registry replaces the routine legwork that is typically part of investigating. Rather than spending time hunting down cameras, identifying who owns or has authority over a camera, contacting the camera’s owner and requesting footage, the registry gives public safety agencies and private businesses or citizens a place to collaborate.

The system allows administrators to set up their own custom request forms and approval workflows. Once release of a video is approved, an encrypted version is released and tracked appropriately. The new camera registry module is a great example of innovation from one of our valued partners. For more innovative ideas, contact us for a consultation.

October 4th, 2019

How do facility and people managers keep fire safety drills from being routine?

October is Fire Safety Month, and many facility and human resource managers are dutifully planning fire drills and other activities aimed at raising awareness. For many, fire safety is the theme for every October, and has been, and will continue to be.

While regular fire drills are a key component of a safety plan, they can also be a risk if they become too routine. Participants may begin to take them less seriously or even avoid them altogether.

At the same time, you don’t want to amp up drills so radically that cause undue stress or panic among participants and actually place them at greater risk. Remember that fire drill scene from The Office? Let’s not do that.

How can we innovate new ways to keep safety routines like fire drills from being boring? Here are a few ideas from myself and the ECT Services crew:

Hold surprise drills throughout the year. Don’t wait for October to roll around. Hold surprise drills on different days of these week and different times of the day throughout the year.

Make it a challenge. Offer a performance incentive for the team that exits the most safely and efficiently. The incentive doesn’t even have to be significant; maybe it’s a t-shirt or other company swag, gift certificates, a “travelling trophy” that makes it way to the most safe and efficient team the next time you have a drill.

Add elements that simulate conditions. I really like this tip I picked up from this blog: during the drill, have training leaders pop up with signs that declare “this exit blocked by fire.” Without too much panic or disruption, participants will be challenged to rethink their routine and explore new options.

Need innovative solutions for your fire safety and other building systems? ECT Services is here to help.

September 25th, 2019

The Ohio School Safety Center (OSSC), a division of Ohio’s Department of Homeland Security, “will assist local schools and law enforcement in preventing, preparing for, and responding to threats and acts of violence, including self-harm, through a holistic, solutions-based approach to improving school safety” according to a story posted by securitymagazine.com.

Kentucky launched its own program by naming a school security marshal earlier this year.

The OSSC will review school emergency management plans and offer free risk and threat assessments for Ohio’s 5,500 schools using the following tools:

  • The SaferOH Tip Line. The SaferOH Tip Line, which accepts calls or texts to 844-SAFEROH (844-723-3764), offers schools staff, students and community members a free and confidential way to share tips and reports about activities that could represent threats to school safety. All tips are forwarded to local schools and law enforcement
  • Digital and social media monitoring. Intelligence analysts will actively monitor social and digital media for threats. Threats will be identified, analyzed and actioned upon appropriately.
  • Emergency management plan review. OSSC staff will review school emergency management plans and provide support as requested.
  • Threat assessment training. OSSC staff will provide policy guidance and training for schools that have a threat assessment team.
  • An enhanced website, saferschools.ohio.gov. The site includes resources on school safety from various state agencies, and will also include a database to communicate training opportunities, meetings, promotional materials, model policies and other resources.
  • An annual school safety summit where school safety, public safety, and mental health professionals can share best practices, training, and resources with schools and community leaders from across the state.

ECT Services has deep partnerships with schools and offers a full range of tools and services aimed at enhancing school safety and security, including access control, fire detection and suppression, video monitoring, automatic gunshot detection and more.