The National Cancer Institute Embraces PSIM to Improve Situation Response and Security

NCI also sees PSIM solution as a way to standardize and integrate its operating procedures throughout the National Capital Region

The Solution

In December 2012, NCI began the process of moving approximately 2,400 NCI staff to a new, LEED Certified facility located in Rockville, Md. Aggregating six buildings into one, the 574,000-foot space and accompanying 1,950 spot surface-level parking garage boasted a 24-hour guard force, 24-hour command center and enterprise-level access control and video surveillance system.

NCI also began the process of rolling out the organization’s first personal identity verification (PIV) system consistent with Federal Identity Credential and Access Management (FICAM) guidelines. The new system addressed the inconsistencies in employee identification by establishing a common database to log all employee access, thereby increasing accountability and making it easier for NCI to keep tabs on who was entering its facilities at any given time.

NCI recognized that rolling out compatible technologies across campus locations would not be enough if there still were no common operating system to integrate the feeds and data from those locations, allowing the new command center to view and work with all of those systems simultaneously. To address this concern, the organization, working with integrator Northrup Grumman, decided to purchase a physical security information management (PSIM) solution that could integrate all its subsystems and technologies into one common operating environment. Selecting PSIM provider VidSys for its strong track record and simple-to-use, web-based user interface, NCI quickly found the cost of its investment made up by the training and cost reductions that resulted from only needing to operate a single system. Aggregating the inputs from and control for all of NCI’s existing security applications (regardless of provider), VidSys PSIM software made it possible for NCI operators to see, for the first time, how all systems were operating, and to have all of those systems working together for a 360-degree view of campus security. For instance, if a fire were to break out, the PSIM software would enable the controller to institute pre-set emergency response protocols, initiating the building mustering system and implementing evacuation procedures in motion while simultaneously alerting emergency responders –recording the entire event for later review and use for regulatory and training purposes. The first wave of NCI systems and technologies organized under VidSys PSIM solution were:

  • access control
  • video surveillance
  • emergency phones
  • emergency messaging system
  • entry building mustering system
  • fire detection


Early benefits of VidSys PSIM software identified by NCI include:

Training and Personnel Allocation -- Because of the traditionally high turnover rate for security employees, training personnel on the disparate systems at each campus had previously been a costly undertaking. VidSys PSIM software enabled NCI to bring all of its systems and technologies under one umbrella, meaning that there now was just one system on which to train. Regardless of location or systems involved, the organization no longer had to worry about whether a controller or security employee in one location would be able to function in another.

Further, because VidSys PSIM software streamlines the overall security process by integrating all software and technologies into a single view, manageable by a single operator, the number of personnel needed to man the command center was reduced, allowing resources to be allocated elsewhere.

Situation Response -- From day one, VidSys PSIM software gathered and correlated critical NCI’s system data in real time, giving operators the necessary tools and information to allocate resources during a situation and making it possible to respond more rapidly and effectively than ever before. For example, if the intrusion detection system alarms were to go off, the control center operator immediately could view the appropriate video feeds in real time, to determine whether dispatching personnel to the location was necessary.