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.

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.