Points of Order on Physical Security Information Management

Stephen Smith

Stephen Smith

Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) is at the forefront of many end users’ thinking and, indeed, is the subject of a special Intergrated Security Manufacturing-Risk UK survey. A recent article in Risk UK’s sister publication The Paper has encouraged Stephen Smith to contest some of the points made therein.

The article published in The Paper (issue dated 8 February 2016 and entitled: ‘Physical Security Information Management: Market Predictions for 2016’) regarding the future of PSIM raises a number of interesting issues.

For instance, the author writes that: “Most local Governments don’t have the financial resources to tackle the problem alone, so public-private sector initiatives will have to grow in number and scope.”

I’m not convinced this is so. Indeed, we see the opposite wherein Government is leading the market and funding high-level Control Rooms to secure both single building and multi-site projects. We see them centralising Control Rooms to reduce running and staffing costs while maintaining high levels of security.

Private finance projects are fraught with difficulties, as providers often just want to provide systems based on the cheapest initial capital cost. As such, they have a very different focus on contrast to the aims and aspirations of Government-led projects.

By definition, private funding is always for profit and driven with very different aims. Once awarded, it’s very difficult to change the requirements (even if it was designed years before and technology has moved on!).

In our experience, we’ve found that the main aim of the contractor is to drive down the costs rather than to look at the systems and gain the best value for money. Government objectives, on the other hand, have always been to realise best value and therefore make the commensurate investment in technology.

Without Government leading the way and not being scared to use cutting-edge technology, the advancements in Security Control Rooms and large-scale integration project would not have developed, and nor would they continue to do so.

Investment in IT training

There are a growing number of highly-skilled security integrators who’ve invested heavily in their IT training and are now delivering these high-end solutions, in some cases employing the larger IT companies to provide the IT infrastructure required, but never the other way around.

The security sector doesn’t embrace the ethos of the IT sector which operates in a world of high levels of recurring revenue in terms of software licensing and high support costs. To a security manager, those levels of ongoing costs are unthinkable. The more enlightened are moving away from such models and are now better informed regarding the full lifecycle costs of the technology installed.

No matter where we go in the world, the message is coming back to us loud and clear that clients will not pay IT revenue costs for security. This will inevitably restrict the larger IT organisations as, in many instances, this goes directly against their business model.

What PSIM developers need to do is provide a highly reliable product and better support. That support needs to be provided on a 24/7 basis and complemented by comprehensive training for system integrators or a full commissioning and project management service realised on those projects where the security installer acknowledges that specialist support is appreciated.

There has always been the debate about 3D mapping. Every time we’ve provided samples to our clients they have always – without exception – come to the same conclusion: they do not want it.

Operators don’t like 3D models. They’re found to be too confusing and don’t offer any real benefit (apart from looking futuristic). How the graphic plans are designed and presented is of far greater importance in making the system easier to use and more efficient to control.

Using standard mapping, GIS maps, photographs and satellite imagery may all look good in theory, but they don’t work in practice. They can assist in providing the relevant graphic plans, but are no substitute.

Clear, concise and clean graphic plans are becoming the focus for Control Room operators, with far more emphasis being given to the design in order to ensure that the user experience is heightened.

Stephen Smith is Managing Director of Intergrated Security Manufacturing (ISM)

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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