Tech Trends: PSIM Possibilities

May 18, 2015
Is the technology ready for prime time?

Quick Quiz….what does PSIM stand for? A) Potentially Secure Information Medium; B) Physical Security Information Management; C) Powerfully Shameless Information Manipulation; or D) Been trying to figure this out for10 years. Clue: The answer is either B or D.

The one thing most of these answers have in common is “Information”

In a Dec. 22, 2014 Fortune Magazine article, Erin Griffith, author of “How to Invest in the Internet of Things,”  writes that the potential of the Internet of Things radically outpaces the reality. “Research firm Gartner predicts the hype will soon collapse into a ‘trough of disillusionment,’ followed by a ‘slope of enlightenment,’ and then, eventually, a ‘plateau of productivity.’”

CompTIA’s Tim Herbert adds that “We often overestimate a technology’s impact in the short term and underestimate it in the long term.”

This reflects my own thinking on the evolution of impactful technologies, and we have two great examples of this in physical security — video analytics and PSIM. Didn’t we see all of the early hype surrounding video analytics dissipate into disillusionment, only to witness the technology become mainstream, reaching the “plateau of productivity” in cameras and VMS systems? PSIM also had great early promise with upstart companies tackling enormous information management problems, only to see many of those acquired (such as Verint and NICE Systems) and their technologies evolve into broader, more capable product offerings.

Ready for Prime Time?

I chaired a panel at the TechSec Solutions Conference in February titled “Is PSIM Ready for Prime Time,” where we had a very spirited debate about the meaning and value of PSIM. Dick Beard, CEO of KapLogic, started his presentation by presenting some past characterizations of PSIM, which seem to paint a picture of “trough of disillusionment”:

  • Too expensive
  • For enterprise customers only
  • Too difficult and time consuming to install and maintain
  • It doesn’t work – too many failed installations
  • PSIM manufacturer has to do the installation

Beard went on to define PSIM as “a software platform that collects and manages information from disparate security devices and information systems into one common graphical user interface.” It is a good description.

We’re not talking just about managing security information, but rather aggregating any available relevant information and presenting it in a fashion that creates comprehensive situational awareness. Bob Banerjee of NICE would argue that the real objective is creating business value, within and beyond security through better situational awareness, management, and reconstruction. Ben Butchko, CEO of the consulting firm Butchko Security Solutions, views PSIM as a subset of the larger category of “Command and Control.” Beyond situational awareness, think of operations or process awareness and consider what happens when one is “aware,” such as response, analysis and improvement.

While much of this sounds high-end, Rob Hile of SureView Systems makes the point that “it’s not just for the big guys anymore,” as his firm has enjoyed success with smaller scale systems and the system integrator channel.  

Heading Toward Productivity

I would argue that PSIM is now on the “slope of enlightenment” — getting traction with end-users, integrators and even specifying consultants.

A SIA-driven industry effort to improve security products classification in the Construction Specifications Institute’s (CSI) MasterFormat is proposing a new category, “Information Management and Display,” to encompass information from sub-systems that supply data (such as access control, video, personnel monitoring, network and facilities monitoring, crowd sourcing, and web intelligence) and that present data (such as video walls). This will make it easier to specify PSIM and similar products into projects.

So, if we are now on the “slope of enlightenment”, when do we hit the plateau of productivity? In this case, there is not just one information-related plateau in the future, but successive plateaus, driven by technology. Once the industry gets accustomed to — and indeed expects — the value of pulling information from disparate sub-systems, crunching it, analyzing it, and presenting useful, timely results for better security and more efficient operations, we will be on the slope to the next plateau(s) determined by “Big Data” and the Internet of Things.

Ray Coulombe is Founder and Managing Director of and  Ray can be reached at [email protected], through LinkedIn at or followed on Twitter @RayCoulombe.