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Posts Tagged ‘ECT Services’

TEAM SPOTLIGHT: Jeff Stivers

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.

TEAM SPOTLIGHT: Jennifer Janney

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.

Looking to the moon for innovation inspiration

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.

How secure are the entrances to your facility?

It might seem fundamental, but controlling access to doorways into and through your facility might just be the most important security decision you make. Doors are the primary way people and goods move through your building, and the ability to control when, where and how people move through doorways is key to security.

How have you chosen to secure the doors in and through your facility? Let’s review some basic tools:

Keycard access.

Physical keys. Humans have been securing doorways with rudimentary pins and locks since the technology first emerged in ancient Mesopotamia around 4,000 years ago. Physical keys are simple and reliable; you must have the correct key to fit into a correct lock to gain entry.

Some of the problems with keys are as old as the technology itself. Keys can be lost, leading to costly replacement of both locks and keys. Keys can also be duplicated fairly inexpensively, making it easy for access to quickly become uncontrolled.

Other problems are fairly new. Keys don’t enable any level of sophisticated tracking, which is a feature we’ve come to expect in the modern world. They don’t reveal exactly who operated the key, when they accessed the door, or when they left. They only allow a door to be locked and unlocked.

Even so, a traditional key and lock may be an adequate solution for doors which require some access control but don’t require a great deal of sophistication.

Keypads. Keypads work much the same as a physical lock and key, but rather than require a physical key to open the user must enter the correct code to gain entry. Codes can be shared among many users, making it simple to allow access to a number of people. Codes can also be changed regularly, maintaining some level of access control without the expense of changing locks and keys.

These same features can also be a drawback. Codes can be distributed too widely, allowing access to the wrong people. Changing codes can cause people who should have access to suddenly not have access.

Much as with traditional locks and keys, keypads don’t necessarily track who has entered and exited a doorway.

Even with the limitations noted, keypads may be an adequate solution for areas that don’t require a significant level of security but do require broad access.

Keycards. Keycards step up the sophistication considerably and solve a number of challenges posed by traditional and keypad locks. Users present a unique keycard before a reader at the door way. The reader scans the information encoded in the card and verifies whether or not the holder of the card should be allowed access.

Keycards tighten access considerably and are easily activated and deactivated without disruption to other keycard users. Keycard systems also enable sophisticated tracking, allowing managers to gain valuable insights into how people move through a facility.

Biometric access. Fingerprint scanning and facial recognition take security to an even higher level, and overcome some of the challenges posed by loss, theft or damage of other access control systems.

These options represent a broad range of solutions available to secure doorways. Options are available along every price point and need, and systems can be integrated and customized to fit your use case perfectly. Need help navigating your way through access control options? We have decades of experience and a expertise in the latest, most innovative products. Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation today.

What have we learned since Sandy Hook?

Last week marked the six-year anniversary of the deadly mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut that took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults.

There were school shootings before the Sandy Hook event, and there have been school shootings after. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a group formed in the wake of Sandy Hook, there have been 89 incidents involving gun fire at schools in the last year alone. But Sandy Hook represents a cultural touchstone in some sense, and is often cited in debates over how to solve the problem of mass shootings.

But what lessons have we learned since Sandy Hook?

Campus Safety Magazine identifies seven lessons from Sandy Hook. Among the most striking is the necessity to act quickly in the event of an active shooter situation.

Quickly implementing lockdown procedures undoubtedly saved the lives of many at Sandy Hook. Twenty of the victims where killed in or near two unlocked rooms. In the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla. last year, 22 people were shot in the first 69 seconds of the incident. Speed is crucial, yet difficult to achieve in high-stress situations.

In crisis simulation exercises conducted by Campus Safety Magazine, school personnel miscalculated the time they would have to lock the door. It took between 30 and 40 seconds to find keys and lock doors in many cases, and up to a minute in others.

Part of the delay may be attributable to being able to quickly and accurately assess the threat.

Shot detection systems like Guardian remove the uncertainty and reduce time to act by automatically and accurately detecting gunfire and initiating response. Guardian uses acoustic and infrared sensors to detect gunfire. Guardian can integrate with systems to automatically lock doors the moment a shot is detected. That quick action can limit a shooter’s movement, and also limit the movements of potential targets, keeping them out of harm’s way.

Guardian can also be integrated with other systems, such as communication systems, to immediately alert authorities, staff and other key stakeholders the second a shot is detected.

Schools are recognizing the value of Guardian. For instance, schools in independent districts across Texas have chosen to install Guardian as part of a comprehensive school safety approach aimed at “hardening” schools unobtrusively.

Interested in learning more? Sign up here for our next Live Fire demonstration.

‘Tis the season to winterize your facility

The Ohio Valley skipped right over fall and went straight to winter, it would seem. Aside from being unpleasant to go from 80-degree afternoons one week to 30-degree highs the next, such rapid shifts posed a threat to business continuity.

The ice storm that rolled through the region recently might not have wreaked the havoc it did if it had showed up in, say, January rather than mid-November. Why? Many trees were still holding on to most of their leaves. Ice clung to the leaves, weighing down the limbs and causing them to break off. The crashing limbs and trees took out power lines across the region, and left tens of thousands without power. It took as much as four days for power to be restored to some.

The early ice storm was a wake up call. Is your facility ready for unexpected weather events? Here’s how you can prepare:

Stock up now on surface treatment supplies. Make sure you have the proper equipment and chemicals available for treating parking lots and walkways. And don’t forget the inside of your facility, too – melting snow and ice tracked in through door ways can create a slip and fall hazard. Be ready with the necessary tools to keep those areas clean and dry, too.

Inspect shrubs, trees and roofs. Keep foliage trimmed back so it doesn’t hang over power lines or roofs. Check roofs for potential trouble spots, and make sure gutters and drainage systems are clear and functioning properly.

Take care of routine HVAC system maintenance. Evaluate performance and replace any filters or worn parts as needed to maintain efficient performance.

Review business continuity plans. If your business loses power, do you have a back up plan? If key personnel lose power at home are unable to get to work, do you have a back up plan? Now is the time to document and cross train to ensure smooth functioning.

Need help reviewing the safety and security of your facility? We can help. Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

Will the next big IoT wave be smart cleaning?

ECT Services has long been the region’s leader for building integration. As the IoT revolution has gotten underway, we’ve been the go-to source for connecting smart HVAC systems; integrating fire suppression systems; and linking building access, communication, video surveillance and even sophisticated acoustic shot detection systems. All of these integrations put valuable information and insights into the hands of facilities managers.

The integrations result in expanded capabilities and increased efficiencies. Buildings become safer and more efficient. We’ve made it possible for a whole community of systems to talk to each other to create a better environment for the people that inhabit the buildings they power.

So, it seems logical to ask, “What will join the next conversation next?”

The answer may be, “A vacuum cleaner!”

A recent post on Energy Manager Today suggests that cleaning may be the next big area of opportunity for driving efficiencies from insights gathered via IoT. It’s already possibility to remotely monitor performance and use of equipment. Managers can tell whether or not a tool – a vacuum, for instance – is operating efficiently or requires servicing. They can monitor how long, where and by whom a tool is being used. Those insights could lead to more efficient usage, driving down maintenance and energy costs.

The next logical step is to move beyond reacting to being proactive. Integrated systems could detect increased activity in a building – perhaps due to ramping up staff – and anticipate greater usage of cleaning equipment. Rather than wait for a breakdown, the system could use predictive modeling to anticipate a more frequent need for routine maintenance, and automatically schedule accordingly.

Integrated systems could also see changes in building usage and adjust cleaning schedules accordingly. Areas that have seen little or no use could be scheduled for a simple check, while areas that have seen increased usage could be flagged for extra attention.

Cleaning is just one possible area for innovation in the smart buildings of the present and future. Whatever the next wave of building integration looks like, ECT Services has the experience and capabilities to maximize opportunities and drive the value. Interested in learning more? Call ECT Services at (800) 567-1180 today.

Shut the door for fire safety.

When it comes to fire safety, fire alarms and sprinkler systems are the first pieces of safety equipment that come to mind.

But could the humble door actually be key to slowing or preventing the spread of a fire and saving lives?

The UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute, a non-profit which studies and trains both firefighters and the general public on fire safety, kicked off a campaign this year encouraging people to close their bedroom doors before turning in at night. Closed doors depress oxygen flow, which starves fire and slows its progress. Slowing a fire down gives occupants time to escape and gives fire crews more time to arrive on scene and fight the fire.

That same thinking translates from residential applications to office buildings, hospitals, schools and other public spaces. Facilities managers and building owners should think carefully about door placement, and how strategic door placement and use can slow or block fire progress and prevent loss.

The issue is especially urgent for hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers where moving patients may take more time or might even be impossible. In those cases, specially designed fire doors must be in place so buildings can be compartmentalized and occupants can shelter in place if necessary until the fire is suppressed.

Fire doors must be inspected at least twice a year. Fire doors are deceptively complicated, and even small defects can threaten their integrity and heighten risk, so inspections should be carried out by someone trained to recognize and correct any defect or misuse of the door.

Door monitoring can be integrated along with all other building systems such as security video, fire alarms and suppression systems and more. Maintaining awareness of these key systems all in one place provides key insights that can help identify and reduce risks.

Interested in learning more about integrating building systems? ECT Services can help. Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation today.

How schools are thinking differently about potential shootings.

This week’s episode of This American Life, a long-running public radio program that explores a different theme each week, featured stories on mass shootings. One of the segments featured took a closer look at the lessons learned in the wake of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last February.

The school had undergone intensive active shooter training just weeks before the event that took the lives of 17 students and teachers. As I listened to the segment, a few insights surfaced for me:

  1. One of the lessons learned from previous school shooting was the importance of locking doors and securing areas. At Sandy Hook, the gunman tried two classroom doors and found them locked. The third classroom door he tried was not. He entered that classroom.

“I will not be the third door,” teacher Melissa Falkowski told her students during the active shooter training at Stoneman Douglas.

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. That quick action can limit a shooter’s movement, and also limit the movements of potential targets, keeping them out of harm’s way.

  1. Hyper realistic drills yielded worse performance, underscoring what we already know: humans don’t perform perfectly in high-stress situations. Some schools have used surprise drills featuring “gunmen” with blanks. As you might anticipate, the drills can be extremely traumatizing to faculty, staff and students.

In surprise drills with blanks, participants were so traumatized they forgot key steps like calling the police. Guardian eliminates such critical errors by automatically notifying police the moment that a shot is detected.

  1. Other alarms can add to confusion. During the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, dust from acoustical tiles hit by the first few bullets tripped the fire alarms, sending students and teachers pouring out into the hallways where they were exposed to the shooter. Emergency plans had accounted for multiple conflicting alarms – a fire alarm and an active shooter alert – with instruction to ignore a fire alarm and always pay attention to the active shooter alert. But the fire alarm was triggered instantaneously, while the active shooter alert was not.

Would the outcome have been different if acoustic shot detection had triggered an alarm for an active shooter first, rather than an alarm for a fire drill?

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

HID Innovation Recognized by Security Today

Trusted identity solutions provider HID Global recently snagged two awards for new products from Security Today magazine, according to press releases from the company.
Security Today recognized HID’s SAFE™ Analytics solution as its most noteworthy new product for Big Data Security Analysis in 2018. The HID SAFE Analytics solution employs predictive analytics for assessing risks associated with identities in the system. The solution monitors for activities such as tailgating and badge fishing and behaviors such as erratic movement and unusual timing. A risk score is calculated for each activity or behavior, and customized mitigation responses are recommended.

“We are excited to receive this award for a solution that takes customers beyond a purely reactive security stance to one where they can identify and prevent breaches before they occur,” said Julian Lovelock, Vice President, Identity & Access Management Solutions (IAMS) with HID Global. “The critical knowledge and actionable insights our solution delivers give organizations high-value tools for averting security issues.”

HID’s Lumidigm® V400-BX Series multispectral imaging fingerprint sensor was also recognized by Security Today as the New Product of the Year in the Access Control–Biometrics category.

The Lumidigm V400-BX sensor delivers end-point security with biometric authentication in a device that combines multispectral fingerprint technology with on-device encryption, tamper detection and response capabilities. The sensors work for normal, wet, dry or damaged fingers, across a wide range of conditions, and can detect fake fingerprints.

Use cases include user enrollment and verification in enterprise access control applications, especially in financial and other regulated industries.

“This award recognizes key Lumidigm V400-BX sensor capabilities, with superior biometric performance and the first ISO/IEC 30107-3 certified fingerprint sensor to reject faked or stolen fingerprints.  The sensor’s robust, end-to-end encryption and anti-tamper technology processes billions of transactions annually to prevent misuse by fraudsters, while correctly authenticating legitimate users,” said Michael Chaudoin, Vice President of Product Management and Marketing, Extended Access Technologies business unit with HID Global, in a press release.  “We are proud to receive this affirmation of our fingerprint sensor offering and validation of the crucial role biometrics plays in securing enterprise networks and other logical access applications.”
ECT Services is proud to partner with innovated industry leaders like HID Global.

Does your facility need a strong access control solution? Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation today.