Integrators, vendors talk PSIM at ISC West 2011

Expect pain points, said panel, but beyond pain points are true organizational benefits

Las Vegas, NV (April 7, 2011) -- One of the top themes at this 2011 ISC West tradeshow was physical security information (PSIM), and as part of the show, I joined a group of vendors and integrators for a panel discussion on the state of the PSIM industry. We sought to look at three key areas: the state of the PSIM market, how PSIM affects end-users, and what PSIM means for systems integrators.

On the panel from the PSIM vendor community were: Rafi Bhonker, vice president product management and business development at NICE (Orsus); Jeremy Howard, director of sales for Verint; and Pat Reilly, vice president worldwide sales for Proximex Corporation. On the panel to balance the discussion were Lee Caswell, founder and chief marketing officer at Pivot3, and Richard Dasugo, security products portfolio manager at Siemens. Caswell and Dasugo provided the storage/infrastructure and systems integration perspectives. The panel came amid a week of news from the PSIM industry, with ADT acquiring Proximex, and then Verint announcing that it had acquired Rontal's PSIM solution and launched Nextiva PSIM (see related video).

At the core of a PSIM solution, the goal is to bring together disparate systems into a common operating picture and to empower personnel to proactively resolve situations. In a PSIM deployment you might find the integration of systems like access control, video surveillance, radar, fire/life safety systems, building management systems, vehicle location technologies and more. The sky is the limit, agreed our panelists, as to what might be integrated into PSIM today.

PSIM is one of those technologies that all of our panelists agree is still quite early in its adoption, but our panel members agreed that PSIM is no longer in its infancy. When PSIM was in its infancy, it was often sold on the sizzle of Google Earth styled mapping interfaces that simply showed all alarm, access and video points on a single map. As PSIM has matured, the driving element has been the addition of rules engines that could filter and correlate the data from these disparate systems and then apply the security and business operational rules to make use of that data. One benefit of PSIM, panel members said, is to help organizations standardize and automate security processes. PSIM, they said, can aid security personnel in following security response processes as specified by management.

So why does PSIM exist? According to our panelists, it's a simple situation of there being too many different technology systems installed independently and operated independently of each other within a single organization. While integration hooks do exist today with many vendors offering integrations between access control and video, these are basic level integrations that don't provide total situational awareness. Notably, two of the companies on the panel were NICE and Verint, which each have video management systems that can be integrated with other vendors' access systems. But these vendors were clear that simply integrating video and access (the integration staple of our industry) simply wasn't enough for some clients such as airports and seaports. For clients such as those, having full, real-time situational awareness of their environment means much more than integrating a couple systems.

As to other top benefits of PSIM, the panelists identified improved situational awareness, better use of staff, improved incident response times, the ability to use PSIM as an audit trail and as a training/debriefing tool to study security and safety response, and the ability to converge control rooms as some of the top motivating factors for PSIM.

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