The magic of PSIM

What is this process called Physical Security Information Management (PSIM)? The solutions vary, but the end result is a much needed scenario the industry desperately requires to accurately represent all the converged data that will continue to flow into the central monitoring station. Here's what PSIM thought leaders told SD&I about the topic in this exclusive roundtable:

CNL SOFTWARE Intuitive Software: Many of the leading central stations are using PSIM to aggregate intelligence from all the different systems to create high levels of situational awareness within the control room. Within seconds of an alarm being triggered operators are alerted within the station. From here an operator is guided step by step to resolve the incident, following established rules and protocol according to the nature of the alert. At each step, all of the information and controls needed to manage the situation are at their fingertips. Meeting the Need: One of the primary benefits of PSIM software is its ability to centralize security operations, providing one place to manage functions turnkey. It is therefore ideally suited to meet the needs of a central station. Some caution needs to be taken as not all PSIM solutions are the same. Data Management: As an IP-based open solution, IPSecurityCenter connects to a huge number of systems, regardless of the technology they are built on. So technically it does not matter if it is fire data, intruder data, radar data or any other type of data. New and Into the Future: As we move into the next phase of PSIM, one of the key reasons why systems integrators will choose it is because of the freedom it gives them to create solutions that do exactly what their customer wants to do. For years they have been limited to the current systems in place and their limited standalone capabilities. They can now make full use of these systems in a solution that delivers exactly what the customer wants and needs for future scalability.

-Matthew Kushner, CNL president-Americas, Indianapolis

DICE CORPORATION Intuitive Software: In-bound communications to the central station have evolved over the past years, and now many central stations are required to maintain new levels of service and communication networks. To manage the varied service offerings that a central station is required to support, it has become apparent that having the PC guy who worked on a couple of desktops is not going to be able to provide the level of networking, telephony and systems architecture that is required to effectively drive these business streams into profitability. This means support personnel at the central station now have to be able to set up, troubleshoot and repair the IP infrastructure, which is certainly more complicated than two-pair copper phone lines. Meeting the Need: It has always been a general rule of thumb at DICE Corp. to deliver software that is designed to not only meet the needs of a central station, but be designed especially for and by a central station through their experiences and growth. The only way we could offer this specialized software is by being a custom-house, developing our software under the direction and pilot program testing of our clients in the field to use before going to market. Data Management: Like most other types of data, dealers and end-users expect to see and manage fire and intrusion data connected via the Internet as well. Today our cloud-computing environment allows dealers and end-users to manage data with fire and intrusion systems, while being notified of specific events. The name of the game is "connectivity," and while the older Microsoft(tm) Windows(r) systems are becoming fewer and less prevalent, a movement to the Web and browser-based applications and devices like the Apple(tm) and Google(tm) products is sweeping the industry. New and Into the Future: Today, companies don't want to have to manage a computer system in the facility, but rather manage their remote locations at one time via the Web. DICE Corporation sees larger, video-only central stations being built to cater to specific markets.

-Clifford V. Dice, CEO, DICE Corp. Bay City, Michigan

DIEBOLD Intuitive Software: Managing information is a challenge at the central station. The most important factors for effectively managing incoming information include the following: ensuring a robust and redundant communication pathway that can handle multiple data formats; the ability to "serve up" critical information in a manner that allows for action to be taken quickly, either by operators or systems; logging and recording data enabling the ability to search for and recreate any event; and the ability to apply metrics to subtasks and critical actions. Because technology changes constantly, these factors require integration skills and flexible systems that can change to meet new demands, along with developer tool kits that enable expansion into new service offerings. Meeting the Need: Software developers are focused on making integration of disparate systems easier. Moving forward, software needs to be designed for cost-effective deployment and with the next-generation central station in mind. Most software is being designed to meet the needs of an untrained or minimally trained operator-requiring GUI interfaces. In the past, this was a requirement for the alarm handling business. However, as information can be made available to the operator from many different sources-a different kind of interface is required. Data Management: Fire is a life safety issue. Each incident needs to be acted upon quickly, immediately auditable and be able to be recreated. Systems that generate and record fire data should streamline this data so that it is available faster. Intrusion data is typically needed at a later date as investigators look for patterns and connections from other physical activities. New and Into the Future: What is new is the ability to integrate disparate systems. Today, however, most PSIM systems are one-way. In the future, it will be critical to ensure that PSIM systems enable two-way interaction, streamlining information management and essentially optimizing operations.

-Jacqueline Grimm, director, Security Solutions and Strategic Channel Management, Diebold, North Canton, Ohio

HONEYWELL Intuitive Software: We are seeing central stations looking at new ways to offer their services as the software becomes more intuitive. The central station is being asked to do a lot more than they have before. In the past alarms would come in, get managed and then be acted upon. More services are being offered by the central station than a few years ago: two-way audio, IP video, remote monitoring, managed access control, mobile services-all finding their way into the mind share of the end user. Meeting the Need: The software is demanding more of these resources to be available, to be delivered to various devices. Pushing the need is the desire of customers to have instant access to information. If a central station is not offering services, the end-user is going to go elsewhere. The software is getting there to manage all these services. There are thousands of companies looking to have their products integrated into the automation platform. Automation companies have to choose who they are going to partner with. Data Management: Dealers are using every product under the sun, whatever the customer demands. Others have standardized on a few core applications, which is smart. New and Into the Future: The central station is using specialty products for managed control that is not tied to normal operations and this is a growing trend. The central station is also finding itself in a position of justifying all these service offerings. Going forward there will be a lot more integration into the automation platform.

-John Smith, senior marketing manager, Honeywell, Morristown, N.J.

INTERGRAPH Intuitive Software: Intergraph's application blends PSIM principles with incident management to enable our users to manage the detect-assess-respond workflow. We worked closely with one of our customers to support the development of a CS to Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) interface for alarms. This interface is an ANSI standard and provides a means to send a standard data packet of information electronically from a CS to a PSAP to convey relevant and timely information about alarms. Meeting the Need: The software has been driven primarily by users like transit agencies, airports, seaports and, to some extent, commercial and industrial organizations. The design goal is to seamlessly integrate alarms, sensors and video in a cohesive and coherent user environment; operators will have a better situational awareness of what is happening in the area of responsibility. Data Management: Essentially all fire alarms are responded to while intrusion alarms have high false positive rates. Therefore, part of what PSIM applications are working to provide is an integrated assessment capability, using queued video. The goal is to provide a video feed, potentially with pre-alarm video, associated with the intrusion alarm such that the operator can determine whether a breach has occurred or not. New and Into the Future: There is an increasing drive towards getting standards in place to better enable integration of the various component systems supplied by the physical security and video vendors. Currently the challenge is integrating legacy and proprietary hardware into a meaningful and useful system. As the industry evolves to IP-based systems with standards-based XML data protocols against industry accepted operational concepts, the PSIM tools will become increasingly important for security organizations to handle higher volumes of disparate and complex data in a manner that can be presented more clearly for better and quicker decision making.

-Bob Scott, executive director, Security Solutions Strategy, Intergraph, Madison, Ala.

OnSSI Intuitive Software: PSIM technology should be intuitive and relatively simple to configure, as well as readily able to integrate with network-based access control, visitor management, intrusion and fire alarm systems. Ocularis from OnSSI provides a non-proprietary, video-centric software platform that dramatically reduces the complexity of managing edge devices, hardware and networking, while allowing users to view, manage and record video from an unlimited number of IP and non-IP video surveillance cameras. Events generated by physical security systems, such as smoke detectors, intrusion alarms, or other IP-compatible devices, can be accessed and investigated in seconds via Ocularis. Meeting the Need: The Ocularis platform runs on standard IT servers and adheres to and supports recognized industry standards, including integration with a range of physical security and camera devices. It provides a simplified, intuitive way to effectively manage video feeds and complex physical security systems. Data Management: We have found motion events or any events generated by any physical security system can be accessed and investigated within seconds using immediate real-time video. Users can also custom-create composite events encompassing two or more parameters such as heat and smoke detection that are specific to an organization, while incorporating logical sequence and time interval between events. New and Into the Future: Using open architecture Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and Software Development Kits (SDK) enables integration with video content analytics, access control, fire alarm, transaction, radiation detection and other physical security and IT systems. Integrators can also use datalink integration to create solutions for end-user clients without any involvement from vendors. The openness has made such integration possible.

-Gadi Piran, president, OnSSI, Pearl River, N.Y.

S2 SECURITY Intuitive Software: As software has become intuitive there are different ways for central stations to manage information that comes in. A reasonably scaled central station generally will have monitoring packages that take the raw data coming in from the premises equipment and then load balance it across all of the monitoring operators. That way, the central station receives a limited amount of information about the alarm and the account and a list of responders to call. Meeting the Need: In the new models, like video monitoring, software is being designed to meet the specific needs of central stations, but it is happening slowly. For this to work it requires the cooperation of the manufacturers of equipment and manufacturers of central station monitoring systems. To date, this cooperation has been limited. New and Into the Future: We will see a move to hybrid models where the end-user manages data some of the time and the central station manages the system at other times. Also, there will be cloud-based services available to end-users that will be billed through the central station account.

-John L. Moss, CEO, S2 Security, Framingham, Mass.

VidSys Intuitive Software: Most central monitoring stations today treat each set of alarm technologies separately and, while they share a common network, the systems need the operator to synthesize the information. For a home this may not be a problem but for a corporation, government agency, school or campus, integration of the alarms is extremely helpful to determine the root cause of the problem quickly and to relay that information to first responders for a more effective response. PSIM technology enables this integration to happen seamlessly so that operators don't need to worry about the underlying technology. PSIM allows an organization to take the skills of their best operators and clone them into the system so that the system provides additional skills. Meeting the Need: A number of companies have developed their software to accommodate a SaaS or outsourced model managed from a central station. The challenge is keeping different customer's data secure and separate on a shared infrastructure. We are also seeing some organizations deploying a SaaS or central station approach within their own organization to allow for a global security infrastructure managed from a central location. Data Management: It is not really any different than access control, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) sensors or building sensors. Systems with good Geo-Engines can provide location information that allows the system to automatically bring up the appropriate cameras in the area and share the location and view with first responders. New and Into the Future: Leading edge PSIM is evolving to put more and more of the intelligence on diagnosing problems into the system and then moving that detection out to the edge of the network so that operators at a central station have to handle fewer false alarms or situations. The evolution of standards, like those that PSIA are developing, is making it easier to integrate new devices. Systems are also going to dynamic policies, devices, maps, identity information and standard operator response instructions are all changing dynamically while the system is running to adapt to evolving situations.

-Dave Fowler, senior vice president, Marketing and Product Development, Marlborough, Mass.