Jules Trocchi, CEO Security Direction International Ltd.
The eminent 20th century psychologist Abraham Maslow placed security next in line after physiological drives in his famous hierarchy of human needs. Indeed it is widely accepted that economic prosperity in a country is impossible without a stable and secure environment within which it can flourish. You only need to look at the recent history of failed nation states like Somalia to see how true this has become in the modern world. It comes as no surprise therefore that security in the 21st century is a key factor in the development of safer and smarter cities, as the progress of global urbanisation and the nature of risk continue to grow in tandem.
The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York on 11 September 2001 was a major wake-up call for the global security industry. In the aftermath of this unprecedented event, it was no longer possible to rely on critical information coming from numerous sources simultaneously to be effectively interpreted and acted upon by separate operators of stand-alone safety and security systems.
The need became obvious for the essential components of a layered security infrastructure to be efficiently integrated in order to better protect society from evolving threats. In a crisis, speed and accuracy in data capture, analysis and decision-making means more lives saved and negative consequences avoided. The need for consistency in response and the integration of disparate systems has spurred the development of exciting new enabling technologies, perhaps most clearly expressed in the Physical Security Information Management System or PSIM.
A PSIM is generally defined as an enabling software architecture that is independent of any particular type or brand of security equipment and allows for the integration of critical data from multiple inputs such as video surveillance, access control and identity authentication to be brought together into one user-friendly interface. The aim of this is to enable faster and more accurate decision-making and response, as well as reduced operating costs over the lifetime of the integrated system as a whole.
PSIM was initially welcomed as a means for enabling more effective emergency response to first responder situations in major cities. However, the accelerating need for security, compliance, and governance across other key sectors of industry has meant the technology being adopted by a growing number of commercial enterprises in addition to the government sector.
The emergence of PSIM is also occurring at a time when the entire physical security Industry is undergoing a sea change. Historically, most vendors in the physical security industry offered proprietary stand-alone systems for a number of separate applications such as video surveillance, access control, intrusion detection, identity management, asset tracking, etc. This is now changing with video and access control equipment manufacturers for example increasingly adopting open standards in response to customer demand for greater interoperability between competing vendor systems.
In addition, the recent rise of “cloud computing” and its migration from the IT world into physical security applications such as video surveillance is helping to accelerate this trend and forcing the industry to enable enhanced integration of information sources and swift action to be taken on the basis of that information.
In complex organizations (and between different partnering organizations) getting the right information to the right people in a timely fashion is critical to success, especially when the physical security infrastructure is composed of a host of security and safety applications, e.g.:
• Alarm monitoring
• Access control
• Video surveillance/analytics
• Identity management
• Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
• Heating, Ventilation, Air-conditioning (HVAC)
• Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
• Communications systems
• Automated bollards
• Biometric scanners
• Shared databases
• Elevator controls
• CBRN sensors
PSIM software provides a vendor-neutral integrating platform that collects and correlates events from separate physical security devices and information systems to help personnel identify and resolve critical situations quicker and more effectively. The resulting benefits include lower risk, increased security, fast response to emergency situations, better compliance with standard policies and operating procedures, improved accountability and lower operational costs.
PSIM has five key capabilities:
1. Collection: collects data from any number of disparate security devices or systems
2. Analysis: analyzes the data, events, and alarms to identify situations and priorities
3. Verification: presents the information in a clear actionable format to an operator
4. Resolution: provides step-by-step instructions to resolve the situation
5. Reporting: tracks all information and actions for compliance, training and analysis
And once a PSIM solution has been successfully implemented by an organization, it is a relatively simple step to connect this to in turn with its IT security systems, which already correlate data from scores of computers and protect against computer viruses and online hackers. This final stage of integration is the ‘holy grail’ solution which will enable organizations to monitor and control security events across both physical and logical systems, which today still tend to be managed separately.
Why is this so important for the future of the security industry?
In an increasingly complex world of evolving threats, timely information and effective response is firmly at the heart of security and risk management. The capture & transmission of critical data and intelligence is therefore critical in conferring competitive advantage in today’s security market.
The security of clients at risk from sophisticated threats requires an underlying communications architecture that can integrate all essential information sources to provide the fastest and most effective level of response. A company providing this capability becomes a customer’s partner and prime supplier of security systems and personnel, with other suppliers becoming sub-contractors.
A PSIM solution enables more cost-effective performance and safety by efficiently integrating best-of-breed security systems for governments, large corporations and individuals. Companies responding to this challenge will take their rightful place at the forefront of the security industry of today – and tomorrow.
Jules Trocchi is CEO of Security Direction International Ltd., a specialist consultancy focusing on the hottest sectors and latest technologies in the security industry. He can be contacted at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org