Is PSIM Right for Your Campus?

PSIM can link
all of your organization’s monitoring technologies so security staff can evaluate the huge amount of data that could come in during an emergency.

You’re a security administrator at a small or large university and you have convinced your administration to fund the installation of various safety and security resources, such as HVAC monitoring equipment, video cameras, intrusion alarms, card access devices, duress buttons and fire alarm systems. These are all important suites that can enhance the safety of your campus. They can provide you and others in the security environment with excellent notification and investigative tools to see what happened during an incident, how to avoid future events and demonstrate to your community that you are taking the appropriate measures to keep them out of harm’s way. 

But what about when the event is actually occurring and a variety of these suites are sending information all at the same time? Does your dispatch operator or control center have the ability to use those tools in a way that truly optimizes their full capability? Do they have the bandwidth to comprehend what is actually happening, accurately assess the seriousness and convey that critical information along to first responders in an easy to understand, comprehensive and – most importantly –  timely manner? Can they do all this while the radio is squawking, alarms are sounding and the phones are all ringing off the hook?

I have been associated with public safety and security for more than 30 years, so my immediate answer to this is, “I seriously doubt it!” My experience tells me that if you, the manager, were to sit your very best operator on that desk and place them in that type of scenario, something will surely go wrong. 

Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not in any way undervaluing the skills and abilities of our dispatchers or control center operators. They have a tough job, and they do it very well. That being said, the huge volume of data from video surveillance, access control, intrusion, fire, emergency notification, HVAC and other systems would most likely overwhelm even the most competent security staff member during a crisis.

PSIMs Can Help Make Sense of It All
Now that I have you envisioning this enormous scenario, what can you do to avoid a critical error? One solution would be to hire more personnel to staff those control locations, which we all know is not sustainable in today’s economy even if you should be so fortunate to get the initial funding.

The other option is to incorporate a physical security information management system or “PSIM” type of infrastructure capable of linking into all of your organization’s current monitoring technologies. It’s also important to look forward by incorporating it into all future safety and security proposals and insist that your safety and security integrator understands the need for those requirements. 

So what is a PSIM you ask? It’s a tool that I compare to the controls in a giant airplane. 

When you’re flying in either a jumbo jet or a domestic airline, the pilot is truly not landing that plane all by himself.  He or she is monitoring the on-board computer, which is doing the bulk of the work to ensure that the plane is operating properly. It is monitoring all of the complex navigational resources that are taking the necessary steps and adjustments to ensure that this multifarious piece of equipment is on-course, so to speak. If something should interrupt the normal landing, then the pilot can intervene, override and interrupt the pre-programmed functions. 

RELATED: VMS v. PSIM: What’s the Difference?

A PSIM is very similar in its design. With a PSIM, a dispatch operator of a campus control center during an emergency can view the fire alarm coming in, watch the proper notifications going out, stream the associated video for viewing, unlock or lock the necessary doors, shut down or activate certain HVAC fans and exhausts, all while sitting at the console monitoring the steps in an efficient and non-hectic environment. If the event is a security activation, such as an intrusion alarm or duress button, the PSIM can activate cameras, make the needed notifications, show the responding officers what transpired during the activation, tell officers what the status is when they arrive and, through an analytics component, search associated cameras in an attempt to locate a potential perpetrator. 

If you appreciated this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Leading in Turbulent Times: Effective Campus Public Safety Leadership for the 21st Century

This new webcast will discuss how campus public safety leaders can effectively incorporate Clery Act, Title IX, customer service, “helicopter” parents, emergency notification, town-gown relationships, brand management, Greek Life, student recruitment, faculty, and more into their roles and develop the necessary skills to successfully lead their departments. Register today to attend this free webcast!

Get Our Newsletters
Campus Safety Conference promo