It’s called physical security information management and one of the hottest new concepts in the field. The June issue of Security Magazine profiles it as its cover story. And then in July, the Zalud Report features an insightful interview with Jim Henry, chairman of the board and CEO at influential Henry Bros. Electronics. Tackled first is a working definition.

Confused by the debate of what is or is not a PSIM solution and intimidated by the “sticker shock” of the cost of many of the separately branded, all the end-user knows “for sure” is that it is increasingly difficult and inefficient to independently operate disparate security systems, observed Henry. There is an increasing recognition by end-users of the need for PSIM solutions but selection amidst the din of advertising claims is difficult. Even in cases where the end-user makes a clear justification for a quality PSIM solution, they may be confronted with “siloed” budgets that may cover only one functional area, prohibiting them from moving forward.

The net effect is that many end-users, according to Henry, hold back until they see an overwhelmingly compelling ROI and/or ergonomic benefit. “I think that explains why we have, to date, had the greatest success with L-3’s Praetorian PSIM solution. By providing a simple, visual immersion of the operator via a 3D ‘fly through’ of an area (the closest thing to actually being there), the operator experiences true “situational awareness” enabling a more accurate, rapid response. It is a simple approach the user readily understands within a 5 minute demonstration at a lower cost than many other PSIM solutions.

“Going forward, I believe that an increasing number of manufacturers will recognize that perception is reality with end-users choosing PSIM solutions easiest to understand and deploy with a short term (18 month or less ROI).

The two biggest challenges for Henry Bros.’s clients presently are cost, and complexity … together, those hurdles effectively account for the “top-ten” challenges, with any other issues being distant. Until those are bridged, the smaller issues cannot even be addressed.

After those frontrunners, the third issue is sometimes that of political territory, regarding protecting a manager’s work domain. This is especially true for the issues of who is in charge when it comes to communications between agencies and first-responders. Now, if it’s a security command center, and you’re exchanging information for various technical sub-systems at issue, there is not so much of a problem of chain of custody, and control.

For the common good of public and private interests, the intentions to share usually start out “well intentioned”, but the interoperability challenges still need to be conquered when it comes to exchanging data. One valuable tool that can be “non-denominational,” instantaneous, and effective for many decision-makers is live and recorded video, in an immersive setting: a picture is worth a thousand words, or a thousand data points. Each and every end-user of that video can extract specifically what they need from it, by having extremely high situational awareness from extraordinary video coverage.