Defining the New PSIM Model for Commercial Security Applications
Today, advanced PSIM solutions with software architecture flexible enough to adapt to complex commercial organizations are being successfully deployed.
- By Simon Morgan
- Jun 20, 2017
Physical Security and Information Management (PSIM) solutions have at times earned negative reviews in the pro security industry for a multitude of reasons ranging from suppliers overpromising on integration and control capabilities to complexity of implementation and use. But now things are beginning to change. Today, advanced PSIM solutions with software architecture flexible enough to adapt to complex commercial organizations are being successfully deployed. Not only do these solutions have the capability to integrate in an open, standard way with a broad group of security systems, they are also easy to operate allowing faster and more efficient implementation and use leading to tangible ROI returns.
When defining this new PSIM model for commercial security applications, there are four primary capabilities that provide security operations with greater value and put today’s solutions miles ahead of their predecessors.
When it comes to the capabilities today’s advanced PSIM solutions offer, primary is the ability to integrate multiple disparate systems into a single, centralized interface. The architecture of these systems is flexible enough to cover multiple physical locations while supporting and bridging the gap between a vast range of integrated solutions – with the ability to grow, expand and adapt.
PSIMs must have an open architecture that provides a means of integration that is simple, maintainable, cost-efficient and scalable. The flexibility to integrate seamlessly with virtually any solution from different manufacturers, including legacy systems, saves organizations money while streamlining operations and providing more complete information for incident response.
In today’s growth-driven business environment, this is especially important for organizations that acquire other companies or facilities. This often introduces new and different business and security systems into the overall enterprise, so even if a company has standardized on one or two different systems, that number can easily expand to 10 or more following an acquisition. Without a PSIM to unify these systems, communication between them can become impossible, making overall management expensive, time-consuming and highly error-prone.
Further increasing effectiveness, new PSIM solutions standardize functionality across different classes of systems, eliminating costly bespoke solutions, and delivering a consistent user experience. For example, regardless of manufacturer, every access control or video surveillance integration should perform the same when integrated with a PSIM platform. This ensures security personnel can follow established response procedures no matter what system they happen to be connected to. Consider the impact of introducing an operator to an unfamiliar system or user interface during a high-pressure situation. There is tremendous value in providing an operator with a familiar user interface in any situation to optimize the potential for calm, standardized response.
Incident Response and Resolution
Effective incident response relies on good standard operating procedures (SOPs) that direct an operator’s actions based on the nature of an event, its location and other criteria. These are sometimes overly complicated, requiring security staff to consult separate documents to identify the appropriate response and then follow a long list of time consuming manual steps to resolve the issue.
To ensure the most efficient, consistent and effective response, operators need a set of simple steps to follow. When an incident occurs, time is often of the essence. An employee who is stressed or anxious about a situation they aren’t used to dealing with only serves to slow down the response and increase the potential for human error.
Simplicity is the key, and today’s PSIMs utilize automation to speed response and reduce the potential for human error or overreaction by automatically performing formerly manual processes based on SOPs. With automated log-in to Active Directory, identification of an incident’s location (GPS), pinpointing the nearest camera and other actions, a 30-step manual response can often be reduced to five or six steps. This ensures that operators are directed to perform the critical tasks that require human intervention such as determining whether a person seen on video is a potential threat, what he or she looked like and other factors used for identification, situational assessment and proper response.
With automation, organizations can keep complex processes in place while presenting operators and security officers with simple, streamlined actions to make them more effective at responding to incidents, even those they’ve never experienced before.
Today’s security operations centers (SOCs) are responsible for monitoring hundreds or thousands of sensors and systems, accessing documents and information from various sources and managing multiple software interfaces, all of which generate an overwhelming amount of data. Operators need to know what is happening and where, but given the sheer volume of available information it is impossible for individuals or even entire departments to sort through data without missing some critical details.
PSIMs can put all the information an operator needs at their fingertips, collating the highest priority alarms and automatically associating nearby video along with maps, call lists and other security sensor data, so that operators don’t need to search for data from myriad systems. This helps enable them to make quick and accurate decisions based on a complete picture of events.
Reporting and Insights
In addition to situational awareness, PSIMs can also analyze the data they capture to provide deep insights and intelligence about security, business and overall organizational operations, both in real time and over extended periods of time. Armed with this information, organizations can better prepare for events and identify any changes that can improve response and staff adherence to SOPs. These solutions can provide in-depth views into specific incidents as well for post-event analysis that can further improve security and operations.
Without question, the ability to integrate disparate systems is the main hallmark of the new PSIM model for commercial security deployments. The scope of integrations now embraces much more than video and access systems, enterprises are deploying a wide variety of non-traditional physical security systems that include business risk alerting, mass notification, IOT devices, mobile safety apps, and more. The combination of integration, improved incident response, greater situational awareness and the availability of deep insights into incidents are delivering the functionality needed to increase security while reducing inefficiencies and costs.