September 11th, 2019

Shooter Detection Systems (SDS) announced early this week the pending release of a new wireless/battery-powered gunshot detection sensor that will reduce installation costs by 40 – 50 percent without compromising reliability or accuracy.

The new Guardian Wireless sensors have all the acoustic and infrared gunshot detection features of the Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection Power over Ethernet (PoE) sensors, but operate on a lithium battery pack rather than wired power source. Guardian Wireless also utilizes secure long-range wireless technology to scan the environment for gunshots while filtering out false alerts.

Guardian Wireless’ backend software and integrations were left unchanged, making it possible to integrate both wired and wireless sensors in the same system. Partner technologies offered by Genetec, Everbridge, Avigilon, and other SDS partner technologies will also continue to work seamlessly.

The new sensors are currently undergoing internal and third party testing, and are anticipated to pass government certification and be ready for market in early 2020.

The news comes at a good time for many charged with enhancing facility safety and security. A deadly summer of mass shootings has left business leaders, lawmakers and the public clamoring for solutions; meanwhile, ever scarce resources are putting the squeeze on budgets. Guardian’s lower price, high quality wireless sensor option may help put system within reach as safety and security leaders plan 2020 budgets.

“We listened to the market and they’ve been asking for a reliable, zero-calibration system that meets the high-performance standards of the Guardian System,” said Christian Connors, SDS Chief Executive Officer in a company press release. “We began in 2018 by refining the core Guardian technology, redesigning hardware to incorporate battery power, then sourced a wireless technology well known for its reliability and security with IoT devices. Guardian Wireless will lower the overall customer cost by as much as 40-60 percent due to the reduction in infrastructure costs. Most importantly, customers can now choose a wireless system and be assured that they are using proven, reliable gunshot detection technology from a company they trust.”

Guardian indoor gunshot detection systems have been deployed in Fortune 500 companies, sports stadiums, government facilities, schools and a variety of educational institutions.

Interested in learning more about Guardian and other integrated safety and security solutions? Call us today at (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

September 4th, 2019

September is Campus Fire Safety month, and the National Fire Protection Association and The Center for Campus Fire Safety are teaming up to raise awareness about the threat of fire in both on campus and off campus housing.

Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/rgaudet17-8831873/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=3410065">Renee Gaudet</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=3410065">Pixabay</a>

They pulled together this excellent list of fire prevention and safety tips for dorm dwellers, but what about students who live off campus? Those students are unlikely to have the benefit of Resident Assistants and other program leaders to plan and execute fire drills and keep an eye on building safety features. We thought we’d adapt and expand the list a bit with those students in mind:

Make sure your living space includes a sufficient number of appropriately placed smoke detectors. Smoke detectors should be placed in each sleeping area, and also in living areas.

Test smoke detectors regularly, and never disable them. Change batteries on move in day, and once a year after that.

Place fire extinguishers in key areas, particularly the kitchen area. Make sure every occupant and regular guest knows where it is stored and how to use it.

Draw up an evacuation plan. Yes, that may sound a little over the top, but do it anyway. Post the evacuation plan on the back of every door, just like you see in hotels. Take time to practice escape routes with roommates and regular guests. Each room should have at least two ways you can exit in the event of an emergency.

Pay attention while cooking. Never leave the kitchen while there’s something on the stove or in the microwave. Reduce distractions from mobile devices, television or books.

Don’t overload the circuits. Resist the urge to plug in every device to every power strip you’ve ever owned. Make sure power strips will trip if overloaded.

Ditto candles and other combustible décor. Keep combustibles well away from drapes, pillows and other flammable objects.

Keep hallways and other areas clean and clear of extra furniture, clothes, mail, etc. Clutter can not only fuel flames, it can impede escape routes.

Want to know more about keeping your business safe from fires? Call (502) 567-1180 for a consultation.

August 14th, 2019

One of our core values at ECT Services is innovation. One of our greatest strengths is in creating solutions that solve problems for customers, just as we did with our VR Tenant product.

It’s back to school time for many students and observing as teachers and students embark on a new school year has sparked some insights for me about innovation. I’ll share a few:

Assemble the basic tools. Walk into any retailer that carries school supplies and you’re sure to see racks of supply lists for local schools displayed. Pencils, crayons or markers, glue, scissors, paper, folders, notebooks and the like are all basic tools for every student from Kindergarten through college. From these basic tools students will write essays, create art and solve problems every day. Students who lack these basic supplies will be at a disadvantage. Teachers are pressured to solve the problem and fill the gap, which may in turn distract them from their objective for the lesson.

What are the basic tools that equip and empower your organization to run efficiently and effectively? Are those tools supplied to every team member? Is every team member properly trained on how to get the most out of these tools?

Insufficiently supplied teams put team members at a disadvantage and place stress on leaders. Teams can innovate solutions to bridge fundamental gaps, but wouldn’t you rather spend that energy on solving bigger, more complex problems?

Standardization can lead to efficiency gains and greater leverage for the entire organization. One thing I’ve noticed in recent years is that some teachers specify which products to purchase – particular brands, colors and counts perhaps. The reason is often that supplies are stored and used collectively. Rather than have students keep their individual supplies stored in their own desk or cubby, markers or glue sticks or whatever are stored in bins and distributed to students as needed. Standardizing these supplies – making sure all binders are a uniform size and color, for example – streamlines storage, ensures interoperability and guarantees quality. Teachers know which products work best to meet goals, and how those products work together.

Interoperability and integration reduce friction and leverage efficiencies, both of which may lead to innovation. We see this every day in the systems we integrate. When access control, video, fire detection and suppression, gun shot detection and communication systems and others are all integrated, the entire system becomes greater than the sum of its parts. Data can be gathered and analyzed to discover opportunities to better position resources or make energy consumption more efficient, for example.

Networks invite collaborative innovation. This time of year, social networks like Facebook and Pinterest are rife with ideas shared by teachers. From bulletin boards ideas to classroom management tips to fundraising, teachers freely share their innovations with others within their own networks and beyond.

It’s important to network within your vertical, and without. While some industries must be cautious about giving away competitive secrets or losing advantage, many innovations fall well outside any area of risk or concern. Be generous and genuine in sharing your ideas, and let others inspire you.

We strive to be generous and genuine with all our partners, from our customers to our vendors. Do you have a security or access control problem to solve? Call us at (800) 567-1180 to discuss.

July 31st, 2019

Serious budget pressures are now threatening school safety.

In recent weeks, officials with the city of Louisville have announced that they may have to reduce the number of officers available to offer security services to schools, including school resource officers and crossing guards. The announcements have raised alarms among staff, students and parents who are concerned that the reductions and reallocations will place students at risk.

While short-term measures aimed at covering gaps have been put in place, long-term budget pressures remain. That means schools may need to get more creative when it comes to meeting safety and security needs.

The answer to some needs may be in leveraging technology, and at least one company is offering to help schools apply for grants to meet needs. Avigilon, a Motorola company, is offering grant research, grant alert notices and expert grant application reviews to schools applying for grants to enhance video security.

How can video enhance safety and security? Here are a few ideas:

Extend the reach of staff and school safety officers. Video enables staff and school safety officers to keep their eyes on all areas of school facilities and grounds and get help where it is needed most quickly and accurately. Monitors can quickly assess issues and offer the appropriate interventions if necessary.

Integrate with other systems. Video can be integrated with other systems for a more seamless, comprehensive approach. Integrations can include access control, public address systems/two-way communication, gunshot detection, fire detection and more.

Study traffic patterns and identify opportunities for improvement. Video can offer a birds-eye view – literally – of high-congestion indoor and outdoor areas that when coupled with artificial intelligence and other tools can help administrators gain insights into process and facility improvements.

Interested in learning more about how you might be able to leverage technology to enhance school safety and security? ECT Services has deep expertise and an innovative approach. Call us at 502-567-1180 for a free onsite consultation.

July 23rd, 2019

Cincinnati. Louisville. Saint Louis.

What do all of these cities have in common?

They all grew on the banks of mighty rivers. These cities are among the oldest in the United States, and sprang up because rivers are important highways for transporting goods and people.

A portion of The Ohio River

Along these cities, you’ll find massive, historic old warehouses. While some of these buildings are still being used the way the were originally intended, more still are finding new life as office, retail and living spaces. The buildings are being renovated and reimagined in exciting new ways.

For almost all, that means adding in modern requirements while maintaining the original character. In the Ohio Valley, heat and humidity are a significant issue much of the year, and good cooling options are a must.

Contractors are increasingly turning to variable refrigerant (VR) systems as a solution when retrofitting old buildings. Why? These systems don’t require bulky ductwork, saving valuable space in design and construction. Instead of ductwork that moves cooled air, VR systems rely on smaller pipes that move coolant through buildings.

The challenge in multi-tenant arrangements is in determining usage by each tenant. When Hitachi encountered this problem, they turned to ECT Services account manager Mike Fisher for an innovative solution. Within weeks, Mike had created VR Tenant, a solution for monitoring energy usage on a unit by unit basis.

Mike’s solution includes both hardware and software that ties into the variable refrigerant system to gather data and calculate data. A “head end” gathers all data and performs the detailed calculations, and energy measurement devices in each unit of the building measures and monitors usage. Units are determined by the building owner/manager, and the configuration is flexible.

Installation is flexible and fairly simple. Mechanical engineers can install the hardware, and ECT services handles set up and configuration of the software.

If you are renovating a historic building and are considering VRF as a solution, call (800) 567-1180 today for a consultation.

July 17th, 2019

Fifty years ago this month, Neil Armstrong took “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Putting a man on the moon stands out as one of the most audacious acts of achievement ever attempted by humans. The moon landing was the pinnacle of a period of amazing innovation. America’s space program inspired generations to dream big, take risks and innovate new ways to solve problems.

But while the moon landing was a fantastic success, it was built on previous failures and challenges. Innovation happens when there’s a problem to be solved.

The successful mission of Apollo 11 was preceded by a nearly endless string of challenges, ranging from engineering problems to be solved to budget pressures to competition from the Soviet Union. The greatest failure of all was the loss of the entire Apollo 1 crew in a cabin fire during testing for that mission.

After that disastrous mission, the American space program could have folded. Leaders might have retreated, concluding that the goal was out of reach or too risky. But they instead persevered, deciding that “failure is not an option.”

Innovation is one of our greatest strengths at ECT Services. Here’s how we approach innovation:

  1. Keep the customer first. Customers trust us to help them solve problems because we’ve invested in building genuine relationships with them.

  2. Know the tools you have at your disposal. In an iconic scene from the movie Apollo 13, the mission control team on the ground scrambles to figure out a way to fix the air ventilation system on the space capsule when the ship becomes disabled tens of thousands of miles into space. One of the engineers dumps a seemingly random pile of objects onto a table before his team. The objects represent all the resources astronauts have aboard their disabled ship. The engineer sets forth the challenge: “We have to find a way to make this fit into the hole for this, using nothing but that.”

    The engineers set to work, and come up with an epic kludge that includes the cover off the flight manual. The contraption works, and the astronauts are saved.

    Innovation begins with the resources at hand. Our VR Tenant solution is a great example of innovation that started with a deep understanding of the equipment at hand and how it works.

  3. Stay focused on the goal. President John F. Kennedy set forth a clear, compelling goal: Get a man to the moon, and bring him back safely. The goals for our customers are different – achieve greater efficiency, keep this building secure – but they are just as important to our customers, and to us. It may not be landing on the moon, but it matters greatly to a child waiting at home that their parent returns safely from work each day. It matters greatly that we leave behind a cleaner planet because we helped maximize a facility’s energy efficiency. It matters greatly that works of art are preserved for posterity because we created a system that carefully controls their climate.

Need a strong partner to help you overcome a challenge and reach a goal? We can help. Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation today.

July 15th, 2019

In most offices – ours included – the coffee maker is standard operating equipment, and the biggest hazard it poses is running empty before the caffeine-dependent among us are fully awake.

But this recent post caught our attention and raised our awareness about the threat posed by IoT (internet of things) connected devices. The pros at Professional Security Magazine put their skills to work hacking a “smart” coffee machine.

A smart coffee machine may sound fairly innocuous, but it’s not. The risks of a compromised device stretch far beyond a subpar cup of morning joe. Compromised connected devices can open up networks and all devices associated with a network to all manner of risk.

In 2016, hackers were able to launch a DDoS attack that took down sites like Twitter, Spotify, Reddit and more by infiltrating and compromising networks through connected devices like DVRs, baby monitors and IP cameras.

Let’s go back to that coffee pot.

The white hat hackers at Professional Security Magazine were able to manipulate the coffee machine itself to do some fairly annoying and perhaps even dangerous things.

“We infiltrated the coffee maker via Wi-Fi, then set up malicious software updates that made the coffee maker do unexpected and potentially dangerous things. We made the burner overheat, potentially starting a fire. We made scalding water pour onto the burner. We even made the coffee maker send ransomware messages demanding payment,” they said in the post.

But the hacking had more serious and sinister implications. The compromised coffee machine was now a gateway to the network. Hackers would be able to see emails and payment information on purchases made online. They would be able get into security systems, see video cameras, and muck around in other sensitive places.

The proliferation and utility of IoT devices means they are here to stay. At ECT Services, we certainly believe in the power and potential of integrated systems.

So what can you do to safeguard your home and business? Here are a few tips:

Keep connections minimal. Only network and connect to the internet when necessary, and in those circumstances work to minimize exposure and secure connections. If a device needs internet access, understand how it needs to be accessed and take steps to protect remote access channels. One example would be to require use of VPN type services.

Don’t reuse passwords.  Especially on your network or wireless router. Remove or disable default accounts if possible and always change default account passwords using strong password standards. Use two factor authentication if a product or service allows.

Know what’s connected. Understand all the devices connected to your network, and why they must be connected. Keep an inventory and audit regularly.

At ECT Services, we approached smart devices very carefully and custom tailor solutions to meet your security needs. Contact us today at (800) 567-1180 for a consultation about your building security and integration.

July 2nd, 2019

This week, a new law takes effect that will allow eligible Kentuckians to carry a concealed firearm without a permit.

Even under the new law, however, concealed weapons are still not allowed in police stations, law enforcement offices, jails and courthouses; federal offices; or private businesses that have posted signs banning guns.

How might this effect your facility? If your facility is open to the public, it may mean that customers, vendors, and other members of the public are carrying concealed weapons in your facility. It may also mean that employees are carrying concealed weapons, too.

You may choose to allow concealed carrying of weapons in your facility, or you may choose to ban them.

What should you consider when making that decision?

Check the legal requirements in your state and municipality. Your attorney should be able to help you identify any applicable law. If you are seeking to restrict the carrying of weapons in your facility, most states require signage and other clear communication, such as mention in an employee handbook. Some states also specify that employees are allowed to carry weapons in their personal vehicles under certain restrictions.

If employees have shared opinions with you about why they do or do not want weapons banned in your facilities, seek to understand their point of view. Consider your company culture carefully, and whether or not such actions would disrupt your staff. Gun ownership, possession and restrictions are hot button issues in the United States, and many people have strong opinions on either side of the issue. Most people simply want a respectful hearing of their concerns.

Check in with your insurance company about any decisions that might impact coverage. Do your current practices expose you to risk? How would changes to your current practices impact your risk exposure?

Review all policies and procedures to make sure they align. If you decide to change your practices related to concealed weapons in your facility, make sure those changes are clearly and adequately communicated in your signage, employee handbook and other applicable documentation.

June 19th, 2019

Kentucky has taken significant steps towards implementing some of the changes mandated in the school safety legislation passed by the General Assembly earlier this year.

This week, Ben Wilcox was named Kentucky school security marshal, a role created by the School Safety and Resiliency Act, which passed in March 2019. The legislation was crafted in the wake of a deadly school shooting in Marshall County in January 2018. Wilcox, who will be headquartered at Eastern Kentucky University’s Department of Criminal Justice Training Center, will oversee the work of two compliance supervisors, 12 compliance officers and one program coordinator. The team will offer guidance and accountability to school districts across the state as they seek to comply with the law’s other mandates.

In addition to creating Wilcox’s and other roles, the act also urges schools to hire resource officers and work with local law enforcement agencies to develop safety policies and track violent incidents.

Districts are also encouraged to make upgrades to facilities to make them more secure. All schools must restrict access before July 1, 2022, and buildings and renovations/expansions must comply with new safety guidelines.

How can ECT Services help schools achieve compliance and improve safety and security for students, faculty, staff and families? Here are a few ways we are able to support these efforts:

Access control. ECT Services partners with HID, the worldwide leader in access control. HID solutions are robust and feature strong integration capabilities.

Automatic shot detection. 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. Guardian has been successfully integrated into security solutions in several school districts around the country.

Interested in learning more? Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

May 28th, 2019

Were it not for Keanon Lowe, we might have been reading very different headlines last week.

Lowe, a former wide receiver for the University of Oregon, tackled and disarmed a student who entered a classroom at Parkrose High School in Portland, Oregon, wielding a shotgun. Lowe is a football and track and field coach for the school.

“When I signed up to be a Security Guard, Football and Track & Field Coach for Parkrose High School, I did so to guide and coach young people whose shoes I had once been in. I had no idea, that I would one day have to put my life on the line like I did yesterday for my students,” said in a tweet following the incident.

But what was once unimaginable – staff, students and teachers being forced to confront gunmen in schools – is now depressingly commonplace. In recent weeks, students have been shot and killed confronting gunmen on two different campuses.

Kendrick Castillo, and 18-year-old just days from graduation, lunged at shooters on the campus of STEM School Highlands Ranch in suburban Denver, Colorado on May 7. His quick action may have saved the lives of others, but it cost him his own.

A 21-year-old man named Riley Howell was forced to make the same split-second decision when a gunman opened fire at UNC Charlotte on April 30. Howell was also killed, but is credited with saving others by taking down the gunman.

These recent incidents have ignited complicated conversations around current active shooter response protocol – run, hide, fight – and about the demands placed on students, teachers and staff to make life and death decisions.

While we grapple with these questions, it’s important to investigate ways to make campuses as safer.   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.

Given the commonplace nature of gun violence in our country, I believe we are rapidly moving to  place where gunshot detection systems should be considered as standard safety equipment in a facility, much like fire detection and suppression systems.

Interested in learning more about Guardian? Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.