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Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) Explained

When polled in 2022, most organizations reported seeing a steady or increasing level of physical security incidents. In this article, we discuss how physical security information management (PSIM) is one of the answers to this rising security threat.

So, what is a PSIM system? A physical security information management system is a software platform that integrates security applications and devices, controlling them through a single interface.

The importance of PSIM is that in integrating security devices and presenting all their relevant information into a single view, the physical security information management software improves detection efficiency and effectiveness. That contributes to greatly improved situational awareness and decision support.

For this to happen, though, physical security information management software requires a few basic components. According to IFSEC Global, a complete PSIM system has the following capabilities:

  1. Device management independent software collects data from any number of disparate security devices or systems.
  2. The physical security information management system analyzes and correlates the data, events, and alarms, to identify the real situations and their priority.
  3. PSIM software presents the relevant situation information in a quick and easily-digestible format for an operator to verify the situation.
  4. The system provides Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), step-by-step instructions based on best practices and an organization’s policies, and tools to resolve the situation.
  5. The PSIM software tracks all the information and steps for compliance reporting, training and potentially, in-depth investigative analysis.

Of course, there’s more to PSIM than its components and capabilities.

To that end, this article will describe the primary functions and objectives of PSIM systems, including how they differ from traditional security management software. The article will also provide a description of the more technical aspects of PSIM and the essential features of a PSIM platform. Following that, the article discusses the broader role of physical security information management platforms in critical event management.

What is Physical Security Information Management (PSIM): a deeper dive

At its most basic, PSIM is a software platform that collects and manages information from disparate security devices and information systems into one common situation picture.

Per analysts in the field, these devices can be traditional security sensors like video cameras, access control, intrusion detection sensors, or less conventional systems, such as networks and building management systems, cyber security hacking alerts, and even weather feeds (More later). 

PSIM systems themselves are vendor and hardware-agnostic. They serve the purpose of giving users the ability to integrate legacy systems.

Indeed, integration is the primary function of PSIM. Users can connect with existing and/or planned systems without being locked in.

PSIM is also intelligence-based, i.e., users have the ability to identify unfolding events, manage them effectively, and therefore mitigate risk.

How PSIM differs from traditional security management is that traditional security management systems tend to operate in isolation. Meanwhile, PSIM integrates various sources into a single platform, giving users a common view of their security operations.

For this reason, PSIM has traditionally been considered an enterprise solution, most useful for critical infrastructure protection and therefore deployed in government but also used in the following industries with large footprints:

How Does Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) Work?

So, how does PSIM work?

PSIM works by collecting and correlating events from existing disparate security systems and information systems to empower personnel to accurately identify and proactively resolve situations.

What systems precisely? Traditionally, the following security systems have typically been integrated into a PSIM solution:

  • Access control systems
  • Automated barriers
  • Building management systems e.g., heating, HVAC, elevators control, etc.
  • CCTV (closed circuit TV)
  • Computer Aided Dispatch systems
  • Cyber systems
  • Electronic article surveillance (EAS)
  • Fire detection
  • GIS mapping systems
  • Intercom 
  • Intrusion systems including perimeter intrusion detection systems
  • Security alarm
  • Video content analysis

Importance of Physical Security Information Management (PSIM)

The data sources and inputs used in PSIM emerged due to the increase in different natural and malicious threat scenarios. Individually, however, the solutions didn’t provide adequate intelligence and reliability.

That’s where PSIM came in. PSIM overcomes technological limitations, synthesizing data from multiple alerting systems and physical sensors.

PSIM also exploits distributed and heterogeneous subsystems to provide advanced event detection capabilities and/or improve detection reliability.

The importance of PSIM comes into greater relief in the scenario where entities must protect open infrastructure spread out across broad spaces and therefore vulnerable to many threats.

In that scenario, cameras and sensors alone run up against the limitations of human-based surveillance – labor intensive, fatiguing work that’s also prone to human error.

In such a context, PSIM yields superior situation awareness and decision support. By industry consensus, further PSIM benefits include:

  • Guides standard operating procedures by documenting efficient best practices for every situation
  • Identify trends by searching through data from current and past events to create reports
  • Audit operator behavior by recording all responses to alerts for later analysis

Add to that, in recent times, lawmakers and national regulators have moved aggressively to mandate baseline security measures, especially in the critical infrastructure sector, as with the Security of Critical Infrastructure Act.

Implementing PSIM software can go a long way toward ensuring compliance with these mandates, particularly their physical security and risk management components.

Features of a Physical Security Information Platform (PSIM)

For that to happen, though, PSIM platforms should be customizable to meet specific security needs. This may include creating custom workflows, rules, and alerts.

What generic features are usually included in PSIM software, though? They tend to:

  • Manage all operational security incidents and major events in a single system
  • Perform security investigations
  • Centralize, track, and manage security information, checklists, and actions
  • Task and dispatch security staff to respond to any event
  • Fully integrated mapping to visualize locations of incidents, hazards, people, and assets
  • Automatically generate security statistics on dashboards and security reports
  • Easily capture rich logs for patrols, shift-changes, parking infringements, and other security activities
  • Integrated communication templates: email, SMS, voice, and more
  • Built-in dashboard analytics, structures, and ad-hoc reporting
  • Automate and follow business procedures with fully-configurable workflows
  • Collect intelligence from the field via mobile apps

The Role of PSIM Software in Critical Event Management

Given these capabilities, it’s easy to see how PSIM software fits into the larger critical event management context.

Simply put, physical security incidents are common types of critical events. With early warning capabilities, PSIM platforms help in preventing these types of critical events.

They also aid in the response to those critical events by providing organizations superior situation awareness into the evolving incident.

The latter is critical. Real-time monitoring and response, which PSIM platforms provide, are key in fluid security crises.

Given its integrated capabilities, PSIM also helps enhances coordination among security teams on the field and in control centers, which is often cited as a challenge in security incident response.

What’s needed, though, is the right software capabilities for your security needs. Check out how Noggin’s own physical security information management features can help improve coordination between security and crisis teams as well as proactively manage all aspects of your security operations, including across large footprints, from anywhere on any device.

Go ahead - request a demo of Noggin today.