PSIMs Answer Complex Problems
The job of a PSIM often transcends beyond physical security functions and can include workflow attributes, time and attendance, and building management. PSIMs have the ability to consolidate all elements of an enterprise. The priority of a PSIM is to integrate a large number of disparate systems together.
One example would be a multinational company with different video and access systems from different providers in Latin America, Europe and the United States. In this scenario, a PSIM that can integrate all of the company’s subsystems across its many locations would be more cost-effective than a standard rip-and-replace of all the hardware and starting over on a single platform.
Another area where a PSIM would be an attractive option is when the end user acquires a number of integrations already in place and they want to manage everything together. The key element of a PSIM is integration — so a company that recently acquired several new worldwide partners and now wants to integrate their systems together would look to a PSIM for the answer. A VMS cannot handle or perform the number of integrations and subsystems that a PSIM can tackle.
A municipality could also benefit from a PSIM to repurpose or share data for systems already in place. For example, if the transportation authority has existing surveillance on the highways or at streetlights, another department may wish to have direct access to that data for another reason.
Additionally, PSIMs excel at workflow applications. While a VMS or any sort of security head-end can incorporate a certain amount of workflow, PSIMs are very proficient at handling complex scenarios and provide a level of situational awareness for the end user that traditional VMSs cannot. In this case, local governments, cities, school districts or other large enterprises can use the PSIM to handle the flow of an emergency event. For example, weather service information can be incorporated to a PSIM, so that, in the event of a tornado or hurricane, the system can automatically handle the responses that need to happen. Aside from elevating security protocols, PSIMs can integrate distribution and warehouse data, and building management and automation.
Lastly, PSIM applications take mapping and visualization to the next level. Many VMS systems will have simple mapping user interface, but PSIM solutions can typically support multiple and more sophisticated GIS map interfaces such as GoogleMaps, Bing Maps, and ESRI maps. Within these maps, not only can objects be tracked on the maps (GPS locations, RFID, etc.), but additional map layers can be brought in to provide a fuller situational picture of the incident at hand. This may include underground gas/power/water lines, wind direction/speed, weather, crime statistics, etc.
Because of the broad range of applications and subsystems that PSIMs can handle, in general, the PSIM is beneficial to a number of different people in an organization, far beyond just the security staff. Departments and management across an entire enterprise find value in the data and integration that a PSIM provides.
Making the Most Sensible Choice
Aside from the capabilities of the solutions, end users want to know the maintenance and training involved with both VMS and PSIM solutions. These answers also vary greatly and can’t easily be contrasted because of the differences between the two solutions.
Generally, if a reduction in maintenance from a cost and time standpoint is the customer’s focus, then a unified VMS is likely to be most effective. This is because, if designed appropriately, it should reduce the amount of hardware with multiple functions on separate servers. Again, a VMS solution designed to integrate different manufacturers’ devices still will require separate updates, maintenance and licenses, compared with a unified system under one manufacturer. Because a PSIM’s main focus is to integrate disparate systems, the end user also must continue to keep track of upgrades, maintenance and licenses of its individual subsystems.
On the training side, the solutions are not easily compared either. The answer depends on the specific application for which each solution is being deployed and can vary greatly. As a general rule, however, both VMS and PSIM solutions could reduce training and overhead as operators use less time to do their job. In the case of PSIM, operators don’t need to access the subsystems individually to get the information they need.
In most instances when it comes to VMS and PSIMs, it’s not about comparing the two since they are so very different. At their cores, VMSs and PSIMs are designed for different purposes and don’t really compete very often. But it’s imperative to be able to understand exactly what each solution does so an organization’s expectations can be met. Mainly, it is the capabilities of the solution and the expectations of the organization that will dictate the appropriate choice for an enterprise’s integration.
Steve Carney is the Director, Product Management, Video for Tyco Security Products. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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