Tim Compston, Features Editor at SecurityNewsDesk and SecurityMiddleEast.com looks at the state of play of PSIM (Physical Security Information Management).
When it comes to a discussion on the integration and management of security systems - and wider assets - we often hear the term PSIM (Physical Security Information Management) thrown into the mix. Over time, sadly, the definition of PSIM appears to have been blurred. Added to this some vendors are now moving away from PSIM altogether, with one, previous exponent now promoting CSIM (Converged Security Information Management) as the way forward here.
All PSIM solutions are not the same
Discussing what is actually meant by PSIM and whether some vendors are mudding the waters by labelling solutions as PSIM which, in reality, are merely souped-up versions of some sort of video management software, Jay Shields, Managing Director, of Glasgow-headquartered VMS (Visual Management Systems) Ltd, who has decades of experience in the security and IT industries, is quick to respond: “I think that it is totally confusing, especially when everybody is calling their front-end a PSIM when I don’t think, necessarily, they all are.”
Shields says that the concept of PSIM for an integrated system solution as we know it today has really only developed over the past five years or so. He believes that the key factor that has unlocked things for the better is the widespread adoption of IP: "Since systems went more to IP - and everything has an IP platform - it became apparent that you could communicate across that platform." He contrasts the ability to bring different elements together now with how things worked in the past: "I remember when it was all done electrically. Basically a lock in a door would be integrated through the system electrically. Integration was all by wires whereas now it is by software with TCP/IP being the common platform," says Shields.
An open approach
Asked about what makes a good PSIM solution, Shields admits that he is 'slightly biased' as the company's Titan Vision suite, for example, is an open system. Delving deeper into some of the reasons why an ‘open platform’ for PSIM usually makes the most sense, Shield says: "It [an open platform] means that there are a far wider range of applications that you can run and it is much easier to integrate. We look at video as just another form of data and you can really start linking your data across platforms." Shields adds that with an open platform, when it comes to upgrading, you are not dependent on whatever a specific manufacturer has on offer: "You can easily move with the development of different systems especially when you are looking at PSIM where you want to integrate video analytics and other third-party systems."
Time for convergence
Turning to Vidsys, a regular exhibitor at Intersec, the clear message is that the popular label of PSIM is simply no longer adequate to capture the full scope of today's evolving integration platforms. Phil Stockham, Vice President (EMEA) at Vidsys, says that CSIM (Converged Security Information Management) is a much more appropriate label to reflect the capabilities of its browser-based and open architecture platform. This, Stockham explains, is highly scalable and can facilitate cloud-based solutions and the convergence of a common operating picture linking security systems, building management systems, and IT network management tools for asset owners across multiple stakeholder groups.
Talking in more detail about the creation of CSIM, and the demand that the company is seeing for its solutions in the Middle East, Stockham tells me that things are on the up business-wise: "Despite all of the regional challenges we [Vidsys] have continued to expand our regional team in 2016 due to the increasing demand and scale of projects we are working on. Whilst there are certainly issues economically in the region, for us the security expenditure is still there and the large infrastructure programmes we are supporting are still there.” Stockham goes on to flag-up the fact that Vidsys is supporting clients with many thousands of assets and devices. Given that there are several city-level, enterprise, critical infrastructure, and government clients in this category in the region, Stockham believes that the scale of requirements is increasing exponentially.
Returning to why a CSIM approach makes more sense than PSIM in the big data and IoD (Internet of Things) world ahead of us, Stockham reveals that the projects Vidsys is, typically, involved in today go way beyond the confines of physical security: "They are broader than conventional physical security systems. You are looking at multiple types of stakeholders and things like enhanced situational awareness with the 3D modelling, tying in to different data sources, tying into resource management, data intelligence, global alerts and social media. The key principle remains around using our rules and logic engine to correlate that data into actionable intelligence but from a wider set of sources relevant to a broader set of stakeholders," concludes Stockham.