What, exactly, is PSIM?
IMS Research’s latest report, The World Market for Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) Software – 2010 Edition examines the growing (and much hyped) market for PSIM software platforms. But what, exactly, is the right definition of PSIM?
“PSIM is a buzzword circulating around the floors of security tradeshows this year, but when questioned, few people are able to agree on what defines PSIM software and what its key capabilities are,” states report author and IMS Research senior analyst Gary Wong. Answers range from ‘it deals with the management of physical security information’ to ‘is it not just systems integration?’ “The low awareness of what PSIM software is and its capabilities is a key limiting factor in the initial growth of the market,” states Wong.
Prior to starting the research for the report, IMS Research contacted the major vendors of PSIM software to build an industry consensus definition for PSIM software. The foundation of the definition was developed by Steven Titch and Sharon J. Watson of SecuritySquared magazine. IMS Research believes that a PSIM software platform must meet the seven following criteria:
1) Connectivity and Integration: A PSIM software platform must connect and manage multiple disparate security systems, examples include (but are not limited to) video surveillance, access control, intrusion, fire and life safety, perimeter protection, mass notification and building automation. The PSIM platform should be capable of integration with other business systems within a corporate IT-infrastructure such as ERP systems, data warehouses, provisioning systems, etc. The PSIM platform should be open, therefore hardware and vendor agnostic, and capable of connecting to any input sensors and external applications.
2) Real Time Policy / Configuration Management: A PSIM software platform must be able to define and change policies and parameters related to various connected devices in the underlying subsystems (such as access control, video, etc.).
3) Correlation and Verification: A PSIM software platform must be able to automatically connect and cross-reference multiple events from multiple disparate security systems in real-time and give the ability to flexibly set rules.
4) Visualisation: A PSIM software platform must be able to visualise the actual situation independently from active events. In case of an event, the PSIM platform must be able to graphically display situational information in a manner that provides responders with a picture of the nature of the event, the location and the scope of the threat it presents. It must be able to integrate real world information as a geo-spatial representation.
5) A Rules-based Workflow for Response: A PSIM software platform must be able to immediately offer a step-by-step action plan, based on pre-determined rules and policies, to respond, manage/counter the threat and control response operations. The rules based workflow should be sufficiently complex as to adapt to escalating situations.
6) Availability / Resilience: A PSIM software platform must have capability for redundant functionality (e.g. servers, communication gateways and databases) to support continuity of business and disaster recovery. This includes the ability to integrate backup systems to automate transfer of control room capabilities. It must be able to watch and monitor the functionality and integrity of the underlying subsystems and detect possible threats on the network.
7) Post-Event Reporting and Analysis: A PSIM software platform must provide an audit log that allows for post-event forensic review detailing the event situation and the action taken. It must be capable of developing customised reports that allow for analysis of multiple events in order to optimise policies and response.
While there are a wide number of products that fulfil some of the aforementioned criteria, such as VMS and ACS software, these products are unable to fulfil all of the criteria and are not considered to be PSIM software platforms by IMS Research. By 2014, IMS Research forecasts that the world market for PSIM software will be worth around $200 million. As a point of perspective, IMS Research forecasts that the combined global market for VMS and ACS will exceed $1 billion by 2014. Wong states, “It is important to note that IMS Research has measured the market in terms of PSIM software license revenue; if services, maintenance, design and consulting revenues were added; it is conceivable that the market for PSIM software would exceed $1 billion by 2014.”