Nest Camera

A few months ago I bought a Nest Camera for $200. Nest Cams are linked with a smartphone. I bought it for one specific reason but I’ve come to see a multitude of additional benefits. The camera is located in my office window and is pointed to the parking lot.

 

I bought the camera for this benefit (and why I encourage you to get a Nest Cam):

  1. Bad weather: I live in Virginia and I wanted to see from the comfort of my house how much snow had fallen at the church and whether I needed to close for the day or postpone opening the building. I even got my facilities manager to create a snow gauge so I could see how many inches had fallen. (Here’s the irony, this first year of the camera we’ve had two snow events, each of less than an inch!).

Here are the unexpected but very cool additional benefits:

  1. It uses the church’s Wi-Fi and electricity. When either the power or Wi-Fi goes out, I get an email stating the camera is offline. Wherever I am, I will know that something is wrong at the church and I need to address that problem.
  2. The camera is pointed at trailers in which we have a lot of expensive equipment for our multisite location. If someone steals the trailers, the camera will capture the vehicle that took our equipment and that will help the police. For a fee, Nest will store video from your camera. Currently (2017) I pay $10 per month for 10 days’ worth of recordings.
  3. My facilities director has access to view my camera, too. He’s getting one for the other side of building so we’ll have everything covered. Multiple people can have access to the same camera.
  4. The camera has a microphone and a speaker. It captures conversations inside my office (though the audio is very bad). Be careful with how you use captured conversations because there may be legal issues with that. The speaker on the camera can be fun – from my smartphone I can talk and whoever is in my office will hear my voice. I haven’t done that yet, but I could really scare someone!
  5. When the lights in my office are off at night, the camera easily captures everything going on outside in my lighted parking lot so I can see if there are any cars that shouldn’t be there in the evening.
  6. When the custodian comes into my office and turns on the light, the camera catches his reflection in the window pane. I also hear his conversations! This allows me to “spy” on my staff – as if I have time.
  7. Speaking of spying – some of my staff realized that my camera captures when they come to work and they believe (despite my instance to the contrary) that I monitor when they come and go. I could do that, but, I don’t have time and I really don’t care.
  8. Last month there was a violent storm. Using Nest Cam’s recording feature, I captured a seven minute video of the storm which I was able to show to my insurance company during the claim process. The video helped the insurance company understand why I was making the claims – and we’re getting a new roof!

 Lead On!

Steve

 

Cameras

Churches should use cameras to protect their most valuable assets – people. Other businesses may use cameras to protect against theft and other crimes – churches can do that, too. But the most important reason churches should have cameras is to ensure the safety and security of everyone inside the church buildings.

There are several principles which churches should follow when installing cameras:

  1. Children’s areas are the priority. If you have a limited budget, then install cameras in children’s areas first. You don’t have to install cameras in each room but you should at least have them in the halls around the children’s rooms. The goal is that no one can get into or leave that area without being on camera.
  2. Exterior doors are critical. Every exterior door must have a camera covering who is leaving through those doors. That means that the camera should be above the door pointing into the building. Most security cameras capture images of people entering. But for churches, the critical issue is who is leaving the church and are they carrying someone (a child) or struggling with someone (child or adult). Cameras facing inward will also capture anyone taking something out of the building they shouldn’t (a TV or something else).
  3. Hallways and stairs are the final priority. Cameras should also capture “long throws” of halls and stairs. These images allow police to follow a person as they walk through the building and see what their path was.

Ensure you buy quality color cameras, not black & white. Camera systems include a CPU (computer) which records about 30 days of images before being copied over. The CPU must be in a cabinet which is locked. Some systems load their images to the cloud; access to that must be controlled so that no one can tamper with the recordings or camera settings.

These systems are increasingly sophisticated. Most systems are motion activated so they only record when there is activity (and not 24/7). Others can do facial recognition and track people from camera to camera creating a path the person walked. Cameras can also be linked to your smartphone so you can monitor and control the system from wherever you are. It is amazing what is available – but they can also come at an amazing price. Determine your priorities and your budget as you enter this project.

Lead On!

Steve

 

 

Dummy Plates on Outside Door Locks

2016 03-March 22 (7)

Every church wants to have a balance between the safety and security of the people inside the building (staff, guests, children in a daycare, etc.) while still being open and welcoming to first-timers and people needing assistance.

 

The best way is to control access by limiting the number of doors that people can come in. Use your signage to direct people what doors you want people to use to enter your facilities. Then, make those doors and the entrance area welcome and appealing. FYI, by law, all exterior doors must have push bars (aka, panic bars) so that people can leave without any trouble.

 

However, when exterior doors are installed, contractors typically install key locks on the doors. That means that anyone with an exterior key can unlock and open a door; they might even be able to leave the door unlocked for others to come in. There is a simple solution to this.

 

For all exterior doors which should not be used as entrances, change the lock plate and put on a dummy plate. That is a flat plate with no key hole which means there is no way to unlock and open the door from the outside. A dummy plate does not affect any of the exit mechanisms on the door. And a dummy plate won’t prevent someone on the inside from propping open a door, either.

 

Bottom line: control how people are coming into your building and remove the opportunity for people with keys to come in other doors.

 

Lead On!

Steve

 

Workers’ Comp E-Mod Factor (part 3 of 3)

2016 05-May 31 (10)

Every year each insurance organization receives an annual report from National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). The report is usually a letter with a link to a website to get the actual report. Every WC policy is evaluated every year to determine if the number of claims was above or below the anticipated amount. The insurance company uses formulas to pre-determine what they expect each policy to have in annual claims.

 

The number of claims and the dollar amount of the claims affects the experience modification factor or E-Mod Factor.” The Mod Factor is the figure which is multiplied against the total premium to get the final premium. Mod Factors range from about 0.80 to 1.49 with the average being 1.00.

 

The report from NCCI will list the org’s most recent Mod Factor. If the Mod Factor is below 1.00 then the original premium will be discounted. If the Mod Factor is above 1.00 then there is an extra amount to be paid in the WC premium. Of course, if the Mod Factor is exactly 1.00 then there isn’t a discount or a surcharge.

 

Organizations want to have Mod Factors under 1.00 in order to get discounts. However, do not jeopardize the safety of your employees nor hurt them when there is an accident and they need WC coverage. Mod Factors are on a three-year rotation. Accidents and claims that happened four years ago are no longer reflected on the Mod Factor.

 

Bottom line: use WC appropriately, try to keep the Mod Factor low by having a safe work environment, pay the premiums each year, and always know your Mod Factor.

 

Lead On!

Steve

 

Workers’ Comp Insurance – a primer (part 1 of 3)

2016 05-May 24 (5)

Workers’ Compensation Insurance is legally mandated for employers. In Virginia (and probably in most US states) it is required for all employers with more than two employees. That means that ultra-small employers (like mom & pop companies) do not need WC insurance but everyone else does.

 

WC insurance covers the medical expenses of employees who are injured or killed while working. It pays for most work-related injury expenses. However, I have seen work-related accidents which were determined by the insurance company to be non-work-related.

 

When a person goes to the hospital with an injury, especially the emergency room, one of the questions is, “Was this caused by a workplace accident?” This question should always be answered truthfully – never try to protect an employer from claims or insurance price increases by lying about the nature of the accident. Employers must encourage their employees to claim WC insurance especially on injuries which could cause chronic pain or prolonged recovery. Those long-term consequences can be expensive if the employer or employee pay for them.

 

WC insurance is obtained from the insurance company which handles the employer’s property & liability insurance. It is typically not expensive and it is based on several factors:

  • The work performed by the employee
  • The employee’s actual wages
  • A discount or premium charged based on prior claim history

 

After the terrorist attacks on the US on September 11, 2001 the insurance industry lobbied Congress which permitted a non-negotiable terrorism fee which is assessed on all WC policies.

 

Lead On!

Steve

 

Personal First Impressions (part 10 of 10)

1985 June-Barcelona-15 Children's class - Iglesia Bautista Bonanova June 1985

  • Parents want to know their children are safe – volunteers need to explain the safety (a better word than “security”) measures in place. Print up a card explaining the details – what to do when you drop off your child and how to retrieve your child. The Welcome Desk volunteers can explain these details en route to the classroom.
  • Names are powerful – guests will notice as they walk with their Welcome Desk volunteer when she greets passing members by name. It says a lot that these volunteers learned members’ names and greets each one by name.

 

 

You get the idea. If you don’t, then ask a fellow administrator to visit your church as if for the first time and give you a report with this checklist. Don’t shoot the messenger – she’s trying to do your church a favor by giving guests a great first impression of your church. After all, you only get one chance to make a first impression – make it count.

 

Lead On!

Steve

 

 

Personal First Impressions (part 9 of 10)

2013 04-April 4 (32) Watford; Initial greeting @ Harry Potter Studio Tour

  • The Welcome/Information Desk volunteers should be extroverts off the scale: warm, friendly, and anxious to go out of their way to help people. Don’t let these critical volunteers burn out. Heap praise on them but also let them know how much is riding on their actions.
  • The Welcome Desk volunteers also need to walk with guests to their Bible study (Sunday School) room or the worship center. But the volunteer also needs to explain to the guest how to find their way out of the building after worship (many church buildings resemble rat mazes) or perhaps the Welcome Desk volunteer can ask a member sitting nearby to “host” the guests.

 

Lead On!

Steve

 

 

Personal First Impressions (part 8 of 10)

2013 04-April 5 (164) St Albans; Door @ base of tower

  • Some churches have greeters in parking lots helping drivers find spots and directing them to a door. That is an excellent way to impress people – especially if those greeters accompany young families all the way to the welcome desk.
  • The front door greeters should have assigned doors – they’ll get to know the people coming in their door and vice versa. Make sure the greeters have the latest church directory so they can call people by name – it will really impress guests who see people greeted by name.

 

Lead On!

Steve