Moving beyond PSIM

Posted On 12 Dec 2014
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TDSIPSIMOpinionJohn Davies of TDSi looks at the evolution of security system integration and how PSIM has fared

A few years ago PSIM (Physical Security Information Management) became a popular buzzword in both the physical and logical security sectors. In its broadest sense, the term sought to describe the increasing unification between IT security and physical security systems, which became inevitable with the increased adoption of IP services throughout business and society as a whole.

In the case of physical security, this phenomenon has revolutionised the approach the industry takes to its products and services. Manufacturers, specifiers and installers have had to adapt and evolve to meet the expectations of the market (and in many cases, the wider public). However, the security sector as a whole has moved on and the expectation of an IP connection is now simply a basic necessity rather than a defining characteristic. Full integration between often complex and crucial systems is now the goal of security operators and providers alike. Paradoxically, whilst the technology is undoubtedly becoming more and more complex, the overall goal is to provide operators and installers with solutions that are actually simpler to use and install.

Bringing together all the elements  

PSIM has been highly successful in bringing together physical and logical security systems, but the expectations on integration have grown significantly as well. The security market now demands more joined-up physical security technology. Common integration components include:

  • Access control (physical locks and doors),
  • CCTV systems,
  • Intruder alarms,
  • Firefighting systems,
  • Buildings’ services controls (including environmental systems and lifts) ,
  • Centralised business systems (and Schools Information Management Systems – SIMS),
  • HR systems

Whilst physical and logical security were traditionally isolated from one another, equally many of the individual physical security and management applications were too. The inability of these various facets to work directly together was a frustration when it was clear that the overall management of a facility could be enhanced and made considerably simpler and more efficient by doing so.

Bringing together the various elements has been made achievable by two improvements –

  • The ability of many security and management systems to be connected to a universal Internet connection,
  • The development of systems and software which are capable of administering and simplifying the operator’s task of running multiple functions from a single portal.

True security integration has only really been made possible with the advent of systems which are highly compatible with one another (often using shared/agreed standardised protocols) and offer the ability to network these previous disparate elements. The second hurdle has been to understand the popular standards and to create software systems which are able to bring the strands together as a whole.

Surveillance and control

Whilst security systems are traditionally used to combat intruders and protect against attacks or thefts, some organisations actually face a substantial threat from what is sometimes termed ‘insider theft’. Modern integrated security systems can be used as an effective deterrent against such threats.

Take the example of a busy warehouse. With items being moved in and out rapidly, it can be easy for a worker to remove items (especially small ones) without necessarily being noticed by colleagues or human security operators. In this example CCTV surveillance may not be enough to detect a problem alone, however in combination with an integrated stock taking system and monitoring of access to the facility it is much easier to investigate unaccounted losses and to check video footage for the missing items. Equally, it can be a powerful tool to defend the honesty of staff members where there is suspicion or doubt.

Visual verification

With a truly integrated combination of security and business/building control systems there are fresh opportunities to use these existing investments. A good example of this is the administration of facilities management resources. Visual verification from CCTV and security software systems can be used to monitor the movement of authorised staff as well as intruders.

A practical application for this could be the intelligent use of environmental temperature control and lighting. An integrated security system can detect the use of designated areas within a facility and intelligently manage the use of resources, especially outside normal working hours, to reduce any wastage in unoccupied areas. Equally this visual verification technology could be used to monitor human and vehicular traffic around a facility to analyse any congestion or to influence planning decisions.

Read the full version of this article in the January 2015 edition of PSI magazine.