Another key point—a VMS can present alarms from the VMS and also from other systems, such as Physical Access Control Systems, through SDKs. The alarm arrives, gets acknowledged and that’s essentially the end of it. This is a very basic form of situational awareness. A PSIM solution considers the alarm as the trigger to either start an incident, or to provide real-time situational awareness as the incident evolves.
Another distinguishing difference is that PSIM can address challenges beyond day-to-day security operations, such as compliance issues. Using PSIM’s automated workflows and incident reporting capabilities, for example, utilities can more easily comply with aspects of NERC CIP. PSIM can also ensure business continuity by providing complete situational awareness of the “what, where, why, how and when” of unfolding events and by helping organizations quickly implement contingency plans.
But perhaps the biggest differentiator between PSIM and VMS may have nothing to do with security at all—and everything to do with operations. PSIM can enable operational situational awareness in much the same way as it enables security situational awareness. For example, a utility could integrate grid devices into a PSIM solution, so error messages or device alerts could be sent automatically to operations when maintenance was required. This could initiate work orders, or instruct personnel to follow-up or escalate situations if work was not completed on time.
In short, while PSIM’s past is grounded in security, the future of PSIM is limited only by the boundaries of our collective imagination. The need to mitigate risk, to be situationally aware, and to manage situations better, cuts across many vertical markets and organizational lines and reaches high into the organization.