January 22nd, 2020

There’s never been an easier time to do it yourself.

Need to troubleshoot an error? Google will lead you to a customer care community where experts and customers share their knowledge and recommend a fix.

Need to see troubleshooting and repairs in action? There’s probably a YouTube video or three that will walk you through step by step. Many suppliers and service companies create and post videos, and customers do, too, so you can get a good look at official guidance and how things might look and feel in an actual installed situation.

Need to order a part? Amazon has just about everything you could possibly imagine, and if they don’t have the part, the manufacturer probably does.

Between communities and YouTube and Amazon, customers are empowered more than ever to solve their own problems when it comes to maintaining and repairing building systems.

But when should facility and property managers seek out professional services to keep their systems running smoothly?

  • When equipment is under warranty.
  • Servicing yourself or using third party parts could void warranties.
  • If equipment or systems are still under warranty, it might be best to call in a qualified service for support.

When systems are complex and integrated. Installers should provide you with detailed documentation that helps you understand exactly how systems are installed and integrated. But if you don’t have such a roadmap, or if the systems are complex beyond your comfort level, it may be best to call in a professional service for backup. Professional support doesn’t have to mean they take over the maintenance or repair; it may mean they answer questions and even provide you with training so you can service equipment or systems yourself. They best professional support empowers you.

When multiple parts or repairs are needed. Professionals can help you map your approach to tackling repairs and parts replacement. They can help you understand how parts work together, and how processes should be staged and order. They can also offer guidance on trustworthy, reliable manufacturers. What could be worse than putting in the resources and effort to make a repair, only to have a part fail?

Service and support are key parts of the value ECT Services brings to our customers. We believe in investing in our relationships with our customers and empowering them to drive decisions when it comes to maintaining their integrated systems.

Do you have a service need? Are you trying to figure out how to get the best out of your integrated building systems? Call us today for a consultation.

January 15th, 2020

What’s the most important integration into every system that we service and/or install?

People.

Every single system must integrate with people in some way. Every integration point opens up a new opportunity for a threat.

This post from Security Magazine really raised my awareness about the nature of insider threats and approaches to mitigating risk. What is an insider threat? It is any act of theft, fraud, sabotage or violence instigated by someone inside an organization. The post outlines several types of insider threats and some tips on how to recognize each:

Unintentional insider threat. This threat isn’t caused by someone acting maliciously; this type of threat is tipped off by someone who is distracted or stressed. They forget or shortcut important steps. To guard against this type of threat, be aware of staff members who are careless with sensitive information, overshare on social media and consistently miss deadlines.

Intellectual property/sensitive data theft. Do you have an associate that “borrows” office materials for home use? Has gotten a poor performance review, missed a promotion or is about to be fired? They may be a risk to steal intellectual property or sensitive data for their own benefit on their way out the door. That sensitive information could end up being used against you by a competitor or other threat.

Insider fraud. Keep an eye out for associates who routinely live beyond their means or are suddenly facing unexpected expenses. They could be at risk of perpetrating insider fraud to benefit themselves and get out of a tight spot.

Sabotage. The office bully isn’t just bad for morale. Bullying is a red flag for sabotage. The saboteur wants to disrupt or even destroy work in an effort to assert their dominance or get revenge for a slight.

Workplace violence. I see the threat of workplace violence as a progression of sabotage. The perpetrator of workplace violence wants to go beyond damaging a piece of equipment or undermining a sale. They want to cause physical harm to those around them, perhaps in an outburst. They share characteristics with saboteurs, but may also threaten violence.

Each of the above threats can be detected and mitigated with team effort. We’d be happy to talk to you about how systems can be integrated to help you detect these threats and others. Give us a call at (800) 567-1180 to consult.

January 8th, 2020

The sporting world is gearing up for the end of the NFL season and basketball season is in full swing, drawing lots of attention to huge sports venues.

With on-site crowds in the tens or hundreds of thousands and online and broadcast viewers in the millions, the opportunity for bad actors to capitalize on the attention is ripe. Even smaller scale local venues playing host to high school or college sports are at risk.

How are venues keeping fans safe? One tool in the tool box is the Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System. The Guardian indoor shot detection system offered by Shooter Detection Services uses acoustic and infrared sensors – no bigger and no more obtrusive than smoke detectors — to automatically detect and instantly report shots fired. Guardian can integrate with systems to automatically lock doors the moment a shot is detected, limiting a shooter’s movement and/or keeping potential targets out of harm’s way.

SDS recently announced that one of their latest installations was in a Florida sports venue. The system will protect key threat areas throughout the stadium.

Guardian was developed in conjunction with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and a major defense contractor, and is SAFETY Act Certified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Approved for U.K. Government Use by the Centre for the Protection of Critical Infrastructure (CPNI), and SL4 Certified by the Australian Government’s Security Construction & Equipment Committee (SCEC). SDS serves customers in markets including K-12 and higher education, corporate, transportation, government, retail, entertainment, utility and manufacturing, and property management.

ECT Services has enjoyed a long partnership with SDS, and with our deep innovation and integration experience we are well equipped to help facilities fully leverage Guardian’s capabilities alongside other security and communication systems. In addition, we also offer a full range of security consulting services.

Interested in learning more? Inquire about our next live fire demonstration event or a consultation. Contact us here.

December 17th, 2019

This time of year can be really overwhelming. The hustle and bustle isn’t just limited to our personal lives. The end of year can be crazy busy in our work lives, too. There are budgets to finalize, invoices to issue, bills to pay, issues to troubleshoot, all as people are preparing to take time off for the holidays.

I don’t have any scientific studies to back me up, but I’m guessing not a lot of innovation happens in the final weeks of Q4 every year. That’s got me thinking about next year, and how I can plan now to lead my team to be even more innovative in 2020. Here are my thoughts:

Make time for thinking. It’s easy to fall into the mistaken notion that lots of activity means lots of productivity. Take a look at your calendar and to do lists – most of the time is probably blocked off for meetings, most of the items to be checked are probably tactical in nature. Where and how we invest our time is a reflection of what we value. When I look at my calendar, I’m not convinced I see the value of thinking reflected. It takes time to truly think and explore ideas and solutions.

Make time for building relationships. It’s also easy to slip into transactional relationships with our business networks. But there’s value in making time to share coffee, lunch or drinks with partners and discuss higher-level topics. Getting to know the bigger vision and driving passions of those we serve is key to finding opportunities to support and further that vision. Those dreams won’t always fit in bullet points or a slide deck, or even one conversation.

Make time for wellness. It might be a workout, a walk, or meditation, but wellness breaks are a great way of getting out of a rut and hitting “refresh” on a mental block. I find myself thinking about challenges in a whole new way if I step away and meaningfully disconnect for a time.

What would you add to be more innovative in 2020?

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.