Hate Cannot Prevail: The Modern Day Fire Alarm

Hate Cannot Prevail: The Modern Day Fire Alarm

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in Security, Technology

On December 1, 1958, a fire broke out in the basement of Our Lady of the Angels School in Chicago. Due to a grandfather clause in building construction, the school did not have to comply with upgrades to the Illinois Fire Code. The school was well-maintained, clean and relatively modern. However, the school’s failure to have important updates in fire prevention led to this tragedy. The building had only one fire escape, no direct alarm wire to the Chicago Fire Department, no heat detectors, no automatic fire sensor, no fire doors and no sprinkler system. There were two unmarked fire alarm switches and only four fire extinguishers, mounted out of the reach of all the children and most of the adult staff, seven feet off the floor.

In the aftermath, 92 children and three nuns perished. A year after this tragedy, 16,500 older school buildings in the US were brought up to modern fire code.

We all remember fire drills from our school years. At surprise intervals, the fire alarm system was tested for its performance and ability to notify all students and teachers of a fire. Student preparedness was also critical to these drills, as knowing how to react without panic or emotional duress is just as important as a warning klaxon or strobe light.

This system is impressive in that, even as adults, we instinctively know what to do when we hear a fire alarm. And it’s so effective that not a single child has died in a school fire since 1958.

Not a single fatality.

In 60 years.

In that same time frame, 458 students have been murdered in by active shooters in schools and colleges. Why are these fire drills and alarms systems so effective? What makes them work?

The answer is layering.

Layer: a fire alarm klaxon, that makes a loud noise that every can hear clearly and easily recognize.

Layer: sprinklers. When they get hot, they activate and suppress the fire with water, slowing its spread.

Layer: backlit exit sign. With an attached battery backup, the sign will light up indefinitely, showing anyone who views it how to escape the building.

Layer: human drilling and practice. This reinforces the process, creates familiarity with all the other layers and allows a calm process to be followed without taxing critical thinking skills that can lead to panic.

The merger of reliable technology and consistent reinforcement of best actions through assessment and drilling have reduced the number of fatalities in school fires to zero. School fires still occur, to be certain. There are even a few injuries every year. But ZERO fatalities.

There is now a ‘fire alarm’ for the active shooter nightmare. With the Guardian Indoor Gunshot Detection System, first responders, and occupants receive real-time location and confirmation of a gunshot inside a building, and act with confidence instead of fear and panic. Law enforcement gains tactical intelligence to stop the threat, and everyone inside can follow their processes for crisis management safely and confidently but most importantly, faster.

In response to the vicious and hateful attacks at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, SOS has committed to bringing this life saving technology to particularly at-risk faith centers and places of worship, along with schools both public and private, and sites around the country. We will not watch as these attacks of senseless hate and violence continue to hurt our communities and our hearts, and take the lives of loved ones & friends.

Disaster Recovery: Is your Business Prepared?

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in IT News, Technology

technology

Disasters take many forms. It’s not just catastrophic events such as hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes, also cyber-attacks & equipment failures that can be classified as disasters.

Companies and organizations can the impact of disasters with plans that detail actions to take and processes to follow to resume operations quickly with minimal loss.

 

In the IT space, disaster recovery focuses on the IT systems that help support business operations. The term “business continuity” is often associated with disaster recovery, but the two terms aren’t completely the same. Disaster recovery is a piece of business continuity, which focuses more on keeping all aspects of a business running in spite of a disaster. Because technology is so critical to the success of modern businesses, disaster recovery is critical for business continuity.

 

Economic and operational losses can overwhelm unprepared businesses. One hour of downtime can cost small companies as much as $8,000, midsize companies up to $74,000, and large enterprises up to $700,000, according to a 2015 report from the IT Disaster Recovery Preparedness (DRP) Council.

 

Even if your business has a disaster recovery plan of some sort, a thorough review of that plan is needed. If your company doesn’t have one, and if you’ve been handed the task of coming up with one, the first step is a risk assessment. It’s important to identify key vulnerabilities to your infrastructure and where things could go wrong, and when they do go wrong, how your operations are impacted.

 

This phase is where a managed service provider can help. We can assess your network & infrastructure, and provide a custom disaster recovery plan tailored to your specific operations, and you can rest assured your business is protected in a disaster situation. Talk with us today.

Unlock the Potential of your Business with Managed Service Provider

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in IT News, Technology

Unlock the potential of your business with a Managed Services Provider

 

Why should you look to a managed service partner for your IT needs? The answer lies in your business’s bottom line.

 

Technology is the foundation of every modern business; without it, you could not service your customers, communicate internally & externally, or coordinate internal plans and strategies. Yet most small- to medium-sized businesses lack the time, payroll and expertise for in-house IT management, leaving their necessary networks vulnerable and limiting their future growth. Don’t let your company make the mistake of trying to take on too much too early! Outsourced IT management services provide a convenient, affordable business solution for SMBs that ensure your technology doesn’t fail as you expand and grow to new opportunities.

 

This also includes the project management that goes along with managed IT services. Without the proper foundation and guidance, your IT infrastructure starts to take on a cobbled-together, Frankenstein’s monster that becomes harder to maintain, manage and scale. If that’s your solution, you’re headed for disaster.

 

The problem is that piecing together solutions without vision is equal to throwing a bunch of ingredients together without looking at a recipe. You know what you want the end result to be, but because there is no precision and consistency, you can’t be certain that you’ll achieve what you set out to do. That’s where a managed IT services provider, along with quality project management, can mean all the difference.

 

In the business environment today, controlling costs and resources is critical for sustainability and growth. A managed IT services provider can create systems that function to your specific operations, inside your security concerns, within your budget and without compromising quality. As a result, you can focus your people and doing what you do best with less IT distractions.

 

Adopting new technologies can introduce new risks to your organization, as well. A knowledgeable, experienced and professional partner can help you stop unforeseen issues in new arenas before they start. And, unless you happen to be a tech whiz yourself, a managed services provider can manage your data and IT infrastructure with greater skill. Should you choose to keep some of your tech work in-house, outside technology management pros can provide off-hours backup and peak workload support beyond your internal team’s capabilities. You also eliminate the need to pay for training to keep your own team’s skills up to date, giving you greater control over training and personnel development budgets.

Thanks to leveraging diverse IT experience and numerous resources, managed services providers tend to be more proactive that internal ones. That shifts your company’s focus from problem solving to problem avoidance. More than 90 percent of technology problems can be spotted before they lead to costly downtime, data loss and security breaches. Managed services providers can also advise your company to employ more cutting-edge practices, from newly released software and hardware, improved data security and disaster recovery, to advanced use of cloud resources.

 

Talk with SOS today to learn more about how you can use a managed IT services partner to take your organization to the next level.

VOIP vs Analog Phones

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in Technology

4 Tips For Your Help Desk and IT Support

Comparing analog phones to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems is like comparing a basic telephone to a computer. An analog phone is a basic phone you can plug in and you’re instantly ready to go. If you’re one of the shrinking number of people who have Analog phones at home, or any home phone at all, we know they are reliable and easy to use, but only offer so many features and applications. VoIP phones are different and a bit more involved.

An analog phone system, also commonly known as a Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS), converts voice signals to electronic signals that travel over the phone line until they reach the destination. These voice signals can travel in two ways because the phone system offers bidirectional communication. Users communicating to each other using POTS or analog systems are connected through a copper wire loop running from a central switch office to many homes and businesses. Subscribers are assigned to a phone number allowing them to contact others.

 

If you don’t know anything about VoIP, it is a system that converts analog phone signals into digital signals and runs your phone system on an IP network through your own IP address or the Internet, combining voice and data on one secure network. The digital signals being converted can be delivered over the Internet from one home or business to another. This communication method is extremely cost-effective. Of course, your features may differ depending on the size of your business, but it is generally the same installation and architecture for small and large businesses alike. So, why are more businesses are turning to VoIP communication and ditching their conventional landlines? VoIP communication systems offers several advantages for businesses of any size.

VoIP communication systems offer a secure and quality service, managing calls over their own private networks. VoIP also offers more features than a traditional analog phone such as voicemail, caller ID, Internet faxing, virtual receptionists, advanced call screening and forwarding, integrated office software, voicemail forwarding, hosted web conferencing, and more.

 

Business VoIP services are generally cheaper than traditional phone services, even with all of the extra features listed above. There is less hardware to buy or lease, if any at all, and monthly subscription fees are lower. Several hosted providers offer smartphone apps that allow the user to make and receive calls through their data connection which can be connected to your office phone or left as a standalone option. Adding new extensions is also a much easier task with VoIP phone systems.

 

Among all of these advantages of VoIP is increased productivity. Choosing the VoIP communication system simplifies and combines your communication tools. This is one step up from analog or traditional phone lines.

 

Choosing a VoIP communication system for added benefits, such as security, improved productivity, and features such as caller ID, voicemail forwarding, and call screening, can help your business stay efficient as possible, and offers enterprise-level features, at an amazingly low cost, while you scale to ‘right-size’ infrastructure as your business grows.

 

The State of the Internet: Cause for Concern

Written by Scott Hall on . Posted in IT News, Technology

fiber optic cables

In light of Mark Zuckerberg’s recent testimony on Capitol Hill regarding Facebook’s use of data and role in foreign nationals influencing the American public with engineered news, many questions have been asked about just how we utilize the Internet in 2018.

 

We’ve come far from the days of digital bulletin boards and dial-up modems. Now, our interface with the internet is seamless, and reflexive. It touches every aspect of our lives, from relationships to business, art, science, recreation and finance. But is the system we place ourselves wholeheartedly into ultimately healthy, in its own right? And that begs a second question – is it healthy for us?

The Mozilla Foundation, a known open source pioneer and the creator of the Firefox browser, recently published a report on the health of the Internet. Their goal was to foster a wider understanding of the human experience of the Internet – from connectivity barriers, to economics, to security and privacy, to online harassment – and find out how those issues all relate to each other, and find the existing patterns in these previously separate experiences. In short, changing the perception of the Internet from a technology experience, to a fundamentally human one, with a very real impact on the well-being of people in a number of ways.

 

With Big Tech

 

Companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook have market share and influence the likes of which have never been seen before. They are seamlessly ingrained into almost all facets of our lives, from civil discourse & public engagement, right down to the contents of your refrigerator and washing machine. They built the internet through innovation, by dreaming big, and giving us exactly what we wanted. It’s not their wealth which makes them dangerous; it’s their market share. Are they now too big to fail, knowing that they take the convenience of modern culture, along with all of our personal data, with them?

 

With Fake News

 

One of the founding ideals of the Internet was almost true democracy and the openness of knowledge. In 2018, it looks more like targeted product placement and the manipulation of the data you’re shown based on how an algorithm believes you think. A growing number of people source at least 30% of their news from social media, one of the most malleable platforms for fake news. A story need not be ‘true’, it need only be ‘liked’ and ‘shared’ enough for the appearance of validity. Since some of these ‘news’ stories tend to be extreme or alarmist, to either side of the political spectrum, they become nothing more than propaganda for special interests at best, foreign spies at worst. Russian citizens were able to use Facebook pages to organize social protests, and even counter-protests to the original protests they had created. It’s no stretch to see the tools used in that case turned to causing outright violence and creating panic during disasters.

 

We are no longer separate from the Internet. It’s now a part of almost everything we do. It is very much a human system now. Keeping the Internet open, free, and diversified is the key to a prosperous and free 21st century.

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