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BUILDING INTEGRATION

Posts Tagged ‘Building Management’

How companies are prepping for the return to work.

During this time of businesses being closed and buildings mostly empty, our team has been hard at work.

We know when the workforce is allowed to return to their office and the world begins to get moving again, things will need to look quite a bit different. We anticipate in no way will doors fly open and office building lobbies will all-of-a-sudden be full of people again, waving their Starbucks in the air, high fiving each other on a great company party over the weekend or gathering for a bit of office gossip before heading up the elevator.

No, it will have to be different – much like the differences we saw with security post-9/11.

Companies are taking this into consideration now and are taking social distancing measures into account now so that when the government says everyone can go back to work, they can do it as safely as possible.

One of our customers is focused on monitoring building occupants and their movements in and out of the building to better allow for reporting a possible exposure. Working with their existing system and making a few additions we are able to make this a reality.

Another of our customers is focused on their turnstiles and how they can be used to affect change. We are currently working on upgrading some of those systems to allow for a break between people passing through the turnstile on their way in. In addition, we are upgrading these systems to no-touch card readers.

Another customer we are working with has decided to go with camera technology that will scan for temperature before allowing entry into the building.

Our goal is to work with each of our customers to implement a strategy that will make sure they have what they need to insure a safe re-entry into work when the time is right.

Stay safe, everyone. Please let us know if we can help your company reconsider future safety measures so that you, too, will be ready. You can reach us by clicking here.

This is no time to let your guard down.

With so many companies closed and employees not in the buildings, it’s important that systems are checked regularly.

When people are able to return to work, they will want to step right back in where they left things – and have all systems “go.”

This is especially important for your HVAC, temperature controls and security systems. With the weather changing rapidly and spring trying really hard to come alive, temperature control systems must be checked and serviced, even while people aren’t in the building.

Security systems are also critical right now. Empty buildings can be a temptation to anyone looking to snag a few free computer monitors or office supplies. So having your systems checked and running properly is critical right now. You want to be sure that the systems protect your building and that only those who should be going in to check things are the people going in. So much of this can be done remotely, and we are more than happy to help.

Our service personnel is available and ready. Click here to read how we are able to support our customers through this pandemic. Our emergency service line is running and “operators are standing by.” To schedule a service appointment, please click here.

Does your entry need two-factor authentication?

These days, it’s not at all unusual to have to confirm identify before accessing an account or completing a transaction online. It’s not enough to simply input the username and password; you also must verify a code you received via text on a trusted device.

Be sure about who is coming in and out of your building.

While this process known as two-factor authentication is encouraged as a best practice online, it’s rarely mentioned as a best practice for in person security. Gaining access to a facility is typically as simple as using a key or swiping a card.

But shouldn’t we at least consider two-factor authentication for facility security? I believe so.

It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where two-factor authentication would be helpful. For instance, imagine an employee loses their key card or – even worse – it’s stolen. If the thief acts quickly enough before the loss is detected, he or she can gain access to a facility simply by swiping the card and walking in the door.

Two-factor authentication would prevent that from happening. How? By requiring two of three verifications of identity. We verify identity in three key ways:

1. What you know (a pin code)

2. What you have (credential like a card key)

3. Who/what you are (a biometric indicator, such as a finger print, hand scan, face scan)

Imagine that the thief who stole the card attempted to gain access to your facility by swiping it and entering the door. Two-factor authentication would demand that they present either a pin code or biometric evidence in addition to the credential. A PIN code would be a strong second step, but even that can be stolen or even guessed. In addition, demanding a PIN code might slow traffic flow and make the process inefficient.

What’s harder to fake is biometric evidence. It’s a lot more difficult to steal someone’s face than it is to steal their key card.

What if video security cameras were integrated to enable facial recognition in addition to credentials? The result would be a powerful, efficient tool for maintaining facility integrity and keeping traffic flowing.

Interested in learning more about how you can integrate systems for greater security and efficiency? Call for a consultation today.

Using digital signage for mass notifications is a great example of innovation

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.

VR Tenant solves HVAC challenges in historic multi-tenant redesigns

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.