Lancaster, PA Electrician Directory

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Homeowners need electricians to install new modern circuit breaker electrical service panels replacing antiquated fuse panels. You may need extra outlets installed in an older home that didn't have electrical receptacles installed in every corner of the home. Perhaps you're installing ceiling fans and need them wired to switch panels on the walls. Or, you want to add a hot tub to your backyard and need electrical service installed. You'll find electricians available for all of these services and more here on lancaster electrical .com.

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Industry Argues the Benefits of Facial Recognition Tech
Industry Argues the Benefits of Facial Recognition Tech aconstanza Tue, 03/31/2020 - 18:37

Industry Argues the Benefits of Facial Recognition Tech

As facial recognition manufacturers grapple with wide-ranging restrictions and outright bans in cities and states across the country, the physical security industry is stepping up with advocacy and education, focusing on the ongoing improved performance of algorithms in the technology. Adding further credibility to the industry’s mission to prevent moratoriums on the technology is a new demographics study on facial recognition released late last year from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Results from the report, “Face Recognition Vendor Test (FRVT) Part 3: Demographic Effects” (NISTIR 8280), are intended to inform policymakers and help software developers better understand the performance of their algorithms, according to a press release by the government agency. FRVT evaluates facial recognition algorithms submitted by industry and academic developers on their ability to perform different tasks. While NIST does not test finalized commercial products, the program revealed rapid development in the field as well as stark differences between high- and low-performing algorithms.

The NIST study evaluated a majority of manufacturers in the industry—189 software algorithms from 99 developers—focusing on how well each individual algorithm performed one of two different tasks among facial recognition’s most common applications.

The first task, confirming a photo matches a different photo of the same person in a database, is known as one-to-one matching and is commonly used for verification work, such as unlocking a smartphone or checking a passport.

The second, determining whether the person in the photo has a match in a database, is known as one-to-many matching and can be used for identification of a person of interest.

What sets the NIST documentation apart from other research is its concern with each algorithm’s performance when considering demographic factors. For one-to-one matching, only a few previous studies explore demographic effects; for one-to-many matching, none have.

The NIST report also found that demographic differentials are lessening due to many high-performing algorithms producing fewer errors. The report further emphasized that many facial recognition use-case scenarios require trained humans as an integral part of the process. It summarized: “Whether in an investigation of a potential crime or identifying an individual at a port of entry, trained personnel are critical to the successful deployment of this technology.”

Responding to the NIST study and using it as a positive springboard for the technology’s implementation as a critical and indispensable tool for criminal investigations, physical security, fraud and automating identification processes, the Security Industry Association (SIA), Silver Spring, Md., said the most significant takeaway from the NIST report is that it confirms current facial recognition technology performs far more effectively across racial and other demographic groups than had been widely reported and that overall, modern facial recognition technology is highly accurate, according to Jake Parker, SIA Senior Director of Government Relations.

On March 10, Parker testified before the California State Assembly’s Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection—the first ever informational committee hearing on the technology in the state—discussing current and future applications in government and commercial settings. The videotaped hearing can be found here.

“NIST has found that the facial recognition software it tests is now more than 20 times more accurate than it was just a few years ago in retrieving a matching photo from a database, and its report found close to perfect performance by high-quality algorithms with miss rates averaging just 0.1%. This reaches the accuracy of automated fingerprint comparison, which is viewed as the gold standard for identification,” Parker said.

According to Parker, the benefits of facial recognition are not potential or hypothetical. They are proven and growing. “In the public sector for example it has been used for over a decade to improve the speed and accuracy of criminal investigations. In any process where there are potential high consequence outcomes, the technology serves as a tool to assist personnel. This may explain U.S. law enforcement’s decade-plus operating history in many thousands of instances, without any confirmed example of the technology resulting in a mistaken arrest or imprisonment.”

In light of the NIST report, SIA encourages its members and facial recognition technology companies to strive to eliminate bias from within facial recognition processing algorithms and encourages such firms to enlist diverse data sets when testing their algorithms.

“The NIST study provides clear data that can help shape advances in facial recognition,” said Don Erickson, CEO of SIA. “SIA encourages collaborative efforts by member companies and involving key stakeholders with the goal of improving facial recognition algorithms and eliminating significant accuracy variation or potential bias.”

The primary concern of biometrics is that it potentially violates privacy and civil liberties, misidentifying or profiling people of color or by ethnicity, as reported earlier on ECmag.com. Oakland and San Francisco banned the use of facial recognition software by police and other government agencies. But in the recent committee hearing, Darryl Lucien, Managing Partner of Lucien Partners and representative for the Los Angeles Police Protective League said facial recognition provides a necessary tool in making criminal investigations more accurate.

Parker commented that development of any policy regarding the use of facial recognition must take a use-case and risk-based specific approach, factoring in privacy for the specific application.

“A blanket ban often is done without a full understanding of the proven, positive effects of the technology and its broad range of uses. A rush to implement one-size-fits-all rules could result in unintended consequences if the full range of uses are not considered. While any technology has the potential for misuse, we believe facial recognition should only be used for purposes that are ethical and non-discriminatory, and consistent with our Constitutional framework of laws and regulations,” Parker said.

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Construction Projects at Risk Amidst Coronavirus
Construction Projects at Risk Amidst Coronavirus aconstanza Tue, 03/31/2020 - 17:47

Construction Projects at Risk Amidst Coronavirus

A new survey published by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) finds COVID-19 is causing significant problems for the construction industry, with 39% of contractors reporting project owners have halted or canceled current construction projects amid deteriorating economic conditions. The project cancellations are particularly severe in light of new data showing 42 states added construction jobs through February.

Conducted between March 17 and 19, the survey received 1,640 responses and found:

  • 45% of respondents reported experiencing project delays or disruptions.
  • 23% of respondents reported shortages of materials, parts and equipment, including vital personal protective equipment such as respirators for workers.
  • 18% reported shortages of craftworkers.
  • 16% said projects were delayed by shortages of government workers needed for inspections, permits and other actions.
  • 13% said that delays or disruptions had occurred because potentially infected people had visited jobsites.
  • 35% of firms said suppliers had notified them or their subcontractors that some deliveries would be delayed or canceled. The previous week, that number was only 22%.
  • Only 18% of respondents reported they had been ordered to halt work by elected officials.

“The abrupt plunge in economic activity is taking a swift and severe toll on construction,” said Ken Simonson, AGC’s chief economist. “The sudden drop in demand stands in sharp contrast to the strong employment levels this industry was experiencing just a few weeks ago.”

AGC officials warned that project cancellations and delays mean massive job losses are likely soon unless Congress passes targeted recovery measures to boost infrastructure funding, compensate firms for lost or delayed federally funded work and provide needed pension relief.

“The steps firms are taking to protect workers from the coronavirus unfortunately won’t be enough to save many of them from the economic damage the pandemic is creating,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC’s CEO. “Construction workers and employers need more than a lifeline. They need a recovery plan.”

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Major Storms Causing an Increase in U.S. Utility Power Interruptions
Major Storms Causing an Increase in U.S. Utility Power Interruptions aconstanza Tue, 03/31/2020 - 14:56

Major Storms Causing an Increase in U.S. Utility Power Interruptions

A new report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration found in 2018 (the most recent data available), U.S. electric utility power interruptions totaled an average of 5.8 hours per customer. The EIA came to this figure using data from utilities that represent 94% of the nation’s 154 million electric customers reported to the EIA.

“Interruptions in electricity service vary in frequency and duration across the nearly 3,000 electric distribution systems in the United States,” said the report. “Power interruptions are caused by many factors, including weather, vegetation patterns, and utility practices.”

The reliability of electric utilities is generally measured using the System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) metric, which is the total amount of time an average customer experiences a nonmomentary interruption during a year. For utilities that report metrics using IEEE standards, non-momentary interruptions are defined as interruptions lasting longer than five minutes.

SAIDI data in recent years has varied. In 2013, it averaged about 210 minutes per customer per year. In 2014, that number was about the same. In 2015, it declined a bit to just under 200 minutes. In 2016, it increased to about 250 minutes, in 2017 it spiked to about 475 minutes and then fell back to 345 minutes (5.8 hours) in 2018.

Utilities are also able to report SAIDI data to EIA after removing “the effects of major events.” Since EIA began collecting reliability data in 2013, SAIDI values have been consistently under two hours per customer (108 minutes to 118 minutes) when major events have been removed.

However, “The past two years of data show that interruptions classified as major events were the primary causes of increases in total SAIDI,” said the report.

In 2017, SAIDI data that included major events was the highest since EIA began collecting reliability data in 2013, doubling from the levels of previous years.

“The increase was a result, in part, of high levels of hurricanes, wildfires, and severe storms,” said the report.

From 2013 to 2018, Arizona, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Nevada and North Dakota had the lowest cumulative SAIDI (ranging from 58 minutes to 165 minutes), while Maine, North Carolina, South Carolina, Vermont, and West Virginia had the highest cumulative SAIDI (ranging from 10 hours to 16 hours).

“In each of these states, the high SAIDI values were caused by major events such as winter storms or hurricanes,” said the report.

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Job Creation in the Energy Efficiency Industry is on the Rise
Job Creation in the Energy Efficiency Industry is on the Rise aconstanza Fri, 03/27/2020 - 14:46

Job Creation in the Energy Efficiency Industry is on the Rise

Released this month, the 2020 U.S. Energy and Employment Report highlights the strength of the energy efficiency sector in creating jobs for the American economy. The report noted energy efficiency has quickly become a major force in the larger energy sector and in the American economy overall.

Published by the Energy Futures Initiative, a nonprofit think tank based in Washington, D.C., and the National Association of State Energy Officials, a nonprofit association representing the 56 energy offices of the states, territories and the District of Columbia, the report includes a number of favorable key findings for the energy efficiency sector.

For example, the report finds that together the energy efficiency and traditional energy sectors employed 6.8 million people. They added over 120,300 new jobs in total, outperforming the rest of the economy in job creation.

By itself, energy efficiency now employs 2.38 million Americans and added 54,000 new jobs last year, which was the most of any sector. Those numbers are even more impressive over an expanded time frame. According to the report, energy efficiency has added 300,000 new jobs in the last four years.

The report also examines the role of energy efficiency in the transportation sector. It notes energy efficiency and fuel efficiency together contributed to the creation of over 400,000 new jobs in the last five years.

If job creation is a reliable indicator, then the American economy is certainly going green. According to the report, energy efficiency alone outpaced fossil fuels, such as oil and gas, which created 18,000 jobs last year.

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Dodge Sees a “Mixed” Initial Impact From COVID-19
Dodge Sees a “Mixed” Initial Impact From COVID-19 aconstanza Fri, 03/27/2020 - 11:46

Dodge Sees a “Mixed” Initial Impact From COVID-19

According to Dodge Data & Analytics chief economist, Richard Branch, the construction industry market research and forecasting firm expects the novel coronavirus to have less of an impact on the economy than first anticipated, while also reporting “a growing realization that the U.S. economy is in recession.”

Please note—Branch warns these forecasts have a large margin of error as the full extent of the pandemic has yet to be felt (as of the date of publication of this issue on March 27, 2020) and forecasts are adjusted as more information becomes available.

The company expects to see a decline in U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) throughout 2020 (dipping deepest in the second quarter), only seeing a return to growth in the final months of the year. An overall decline of 0.5% for the entire year is expected.

Specifically, Dodge predicts a slight decline to –0.1% in GDP in the first quarter, followed by –6.3% in the second quarter, as the economic impacts of the virus are fully felt. (According to Dodge, the deepest quarterly decline during the Great Recession was an annualized –8.4% in the fourth quarter of 2008.)

As the year continues, improvement is expected if COVID-19 containment and mitigation plans are working and “some aspects of life return to normal.” Dodge expects GDP at –1.1% in the third quarter, end- ing with slight growth of 1.5% in Q4.

For the construction industry specifically, the commercial sector has fared better than the institutional in the initial weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Branch, U.S. commercial projects survived the first week of major economic impact (March 15–21), possibly as a result of more flexibility for teleworking and a strong economy protecting the construction industry from the full impact of the pandemic as companies were still able to enter projects into the planning phases.

In particular, the commercial sector saw little to no difference between the dollar value of projects entered into planning during the first three weeks of March compared to the first three weeks of February. However, according to Branch, the commercial sector is likely more vulnerable to an economic downturn as the hotel and retail sectors are likely going to be hit hard by COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

Institutional construction has seen a much more noticeable impact from the effects of COVID-19. The dollar value of institutional construction projects entering the planning phase fell each successive week in March. This trend is expected to continue as state and local governments feel the pain of reduced tax revenue and increased use of social safety nets as a result of unemployed workers.

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Relaxed Utility Regulatory Requirements in Light of COVID-19
Relaxed Utility Regulatory Requirements in Light of COVID-19 aconstanza Wed, 03/25/2020 - 12:37

Relaxed Utility Regulatory Requirements in Light of COVID-19

On March 18, in a somewhat unprecedented move, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) temporarily suspended or relaxed certain utility regulations to give utilities more flexibility in response to COVID-19. In a joint statement, FERC and NERC said they are “taking steps to ensure that operators of the bulk electric system can focus their resources on keeping people safe and the lights on during this unprecedented public health emergency.”

The two organizations are using regulatory discretion when considering the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in complying with reliability standards in three specific areas:

  • The coronavirus will be considered an acceptable basis for noncompliance with obtaining and maintaining personnel certification, for the period of March 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020.
  • COVID-19 will be an acceptable reason for case-by-case noncompliance with reliability standard requirements that involve periodic actions taken between March 1, 2020, and July 31, 2020.
  • Finally, regional entities will postpone on-site audits, certifications and other on-site activities until July 31, 2020, at the earliest.

The release also states, “FERC and NERC recognize the uncertainties regard- ing the response to and recovery from the coronavirus outbreak and will continue to evaluate the situation to determine whether to extend these dates.”

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Construction Exempted from DOL’s New Apprenticeship Programs
Construction Exempted from DOL’s New Apprenticeship Programs aconstanza Tue, 03/24/2020 - 10:57

Construction Exempted from DOL’s New Apprenticeship Programs

On March 11, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) published a final rule establishing a system for developing Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs (IRAP) in all sectors except construction.

The DOL says the programs must include a paid-work component (which offers at least the minimum wage), an educational component, on-the-job training/structured work experience, mentorship and result in an industry-recognized credential, among other requirements. Additionally, an IRAP must be developed and approved by a third-party organization—such as an industry group, corporation, non-profit organization, educational institution, etc.—which must meet certain criteria and apply for recognition as a “standards recognition entity” or SRE by the DOL.

In a subpart of the final rule, the DOL has completely excluded IRAPs in the construction industry. Additionally, the DOL will see to it that the Office of Apprenticeship Administrator will not recognize SREs that intend to establish IRAPs seeking to train apprentices in construction activities, which includes, “the erecting of buildings and other structures (including additions); heavy construction other than buildings; and alterations, reconstruction, installation, and maintenance and repairs.”

The DOL cited the 326,798 public comments—the most the Employment and Training Administration has ever received on a rule—as part of this decision, stating that “the vast majority” of the comments addressed this construction exemption section “with many calling for an express exclusion of construction from the final rule.”

While recognizing some comments that argued IRAPs would help fill skilled-training needs, ultimately the DOL determined that the goal of IRAPs is to expand apprenticeships into new industries, and registered apprenticeship programs are already well-established and widespread in construction. Additionally, the department did not want to risk disrupting registered construction programs.

The final rule states, “…a complete exclusion of construction, but no other sector, is most consistent with the goal of encouraging more apprenticeships in new industry sectors that lack widespread and well-established registered apprenticeship opportunities.”

The National Electrical Contractors Association applauded this exemption, believing IRAPs will interfere with their already established registered apprenticeship models.

NECA Chief Executive Officer David Long said, "Given the high concentration of time-tested registered apprenticeship programs in the construction industry, there is no need to create a parallel program that would detract from our nearly 80 years of experience as the industry's gold standard.”

The DOL also addressed other comments in its final rule. In particular, the department pushed back against the idea that IRAPs are less safe than registered apprenticeship programs. The DOL also argued against the idea that a stronger distinction was not needed to prevent confusion between IRAPs and registered apprenticeship programs.

The creation of the IRAPs programs is in response to an Executive Order signed by President Donald Trump on June 15, 2017, directing the Secretary of Labor to promote the development of apprenticeship programs by third parties.

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Offshore Wind Power Expected To Surge
Offshore Wind Power Expected To Surge aconstanza Fri, 03/20/2020 - 12:33

Offshore Wind Power Expected To Surge

Land-based wind power has fueled rapid growth in renewables across the United States. Now, the offshore version is poised for a growth curve of its own.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), offshore wind power will grow exponentially in the next decades, and jobs and economic investment will grow along with it.

This month, the AWEA released its U.S Offshore Wind Power Economic Impact Assessment. The analysis estimates jobs, economic output and economic value add resulting from the development and operation of offshore wind projects on the East Coast through 2030.

The AWEA notes that total U.S. offshore wind potential is huge at more than 2,000 gigawatts (GW) or nearly double the nation’s current electricity use. Recognizing all of this capacity won’t get built all at once, and some may never get built at all, the analysis relies on more likely market projections of between 20 to 30 GW of operational offshore wind capacity by the year 2030.

It examines the economic impact of two scenarios based on the outside parameters of those projections. In the first scenario, 20 GW of offshore wind will lead to $28 billion invested in the U.S. economy by 2030, approximately 45,000 jobs and $12.5 billion annually in economic output. In the second scenario, 30 GW of offshore wind will result in $57 billion invested in the U.S. economy by 2030, 83,000 jobs and $25 billion annually in economic output.

The AWEA analysis draws some of its insight from the history of the land-based wind power industry, which grew from 2,500 MW in 2000 to over 105,500 MW at the end of 2019.

The analysis notes that growth in the offshore wind power industry is being driven by East Coast states, including Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Virginia.

Currently, the United States has one operational offshore wind project, the Block Island Wind Farm, a 30-MW project with five turbines located three miles off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island. It came online in December 2016.

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Congress Passes Series of COVID-19 Relief Bills Including Historic $2 Trillion in Aid
Congress Passes Series of COVID-19 Relief Bills Including Historic $2 Trillion in Aid aconstanza Thu, 03/19/2020 - 12:39

Congress Passes Series of COVID-19 Relief Bills Including Historic $2 Trillion in Aid

On March 18, the Senate approved a House-passed coronavirus relief package bill that includes provisions for free testing for COVID-19 and paid emergency leave. President Trump signed the bill into law that evening.

The economic relief bill marks the second aid package passed in a matter of weeks. It provides paid sick and family leave for some U.S. workers impacted by the coronavirus as well as two weeks of paid sick leave for workers being tested or treated for coronavirus or diagnosed with the virus. Also eligible are those who have been told by a doctor or government official to stay home because of exposure or symptoms.

Payments will be capped at $511 a day, which is approximately the daily pay for someone with an annual salary of $133,000. Workers with family members affected by coronavirus and those whose children’s schools have closed will receive up to two-thirds of their pay, though that benefit will be limited to $200 a day.

The relief package expands unemployment assistance, includes nutrition assistance and increases resources for testing. A third, and even larger, relief measure totaling nearly $2 trillion was unanimously approved in the Senate late on March 25 and passed by the House on Friday, March 27.

The bill, which lawmakers are describing as “Phase III,” is the largest rescue package in U.S. history, according to NPR.

The legislation includes direct payments to American house- holds. Payments scale down as household income increases, and families will receive additional payments per child. The bill also includes expanded unemployment insurance programs, fund- ing for healthcare facilities and state and local governments, and loans for companies in distress and small businesses.

When signed by the Senate, provisions for small businesses included a $349 billion emergency loan program to maintain payroll, group health benefits, mortgage payments, utilities and other debt obligations. The loans would cover the period from February 15, 2020, through June 30, 2020, and the Small Busi- ness Administration would be given the authority to waive their regular credit checks.

President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.

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Trust Within a Company Builds Business and Profit
Trust Within a Company Builds Business and Profit aconstanza Wed, 03/18/2020 - 12:46

Trust Within a Company Builds Business and Profit

A new report released by Autodesk and management consulting firm FMI Corp. found that construction organizations with very high levels of trust within their companies and project teams reported better financial and organizational performance.

For the study, “Trust Matters: The High Cost of Low Trust,” FMI and Autodesk surveyed more than 2,500 construction professionals worldwide who ranked trust at their organizations.

The findings revealed that organizations with very high levels of trust achieve better financial and organizational performance. However, 63% of survey respondents noted that their organizations had less than very high trust.

“The performance advantages at ‘very high’ trust organizations can represent mil- lions of dollars in profitability,” said Jay Bowman, research and analytics lead at FMI. “With margins in the construction industry continuing to shrink, organizations should be aware of their trust ranking and how it can be improved to increase profitability.”

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