Is PSIM right for you?

SOPs must be in place, experts say
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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

FORT LAUDERDALE—Is PSIM—a physical security information management system—right for your enterprise?

To answer that question you first need to assess your situation and have standard operating procedures in place, said Rob Hile, CEO of Integrated Fire & Security Solutions. "We're going to ask end users to work with us from the beginning," he said during the "Deconstructing PSIM" session at TechSec 2013.

"Instead of buying a PSIM off the shelf, you need to figure out what you need. Don't settle. A lot of work goes into this, and that's the message for end users. We've learned a lot over the years. Do your homework. Get in touch with the right integrator, the right manufacturer and match them up with your business."

Also, and just as importantly, standard operating procedures must be in place for a PSIM to be effective, he said.

Panelist Jeff Stover, president and CEO of Stover and Associates, a security consulting firm, agreed.

"SOPs are extremely important for laying out the language and understanding of the people using the PSIM," Stover said. "And SOPs need to change to adapt to risk assessment, so it's important to be able to quickly modify them to the current threat level that is coming in."

Regulatory requirements, "which can change on the hour," also need to be taken into consideration with SOPs, said panelist Dennis Heaps, security director of NiSource Corp.

Integrators can help end users establish their SOPs, Hile said.

He defines the "I" in PSIM as not just information, but also integration, intelligence, incident and identity. "It's all five," he said.

Integration is vital, said Heaps, whose company is on its second-generation PSIM. "We've all started with an empty room and had to piece all these things together. But this device didn't connect with this device. Connectivity is a foundation. It has to be."

Among other PSIM topics discussed was a rules-based work flow for call-center response, perhaps the most overlooked PSIM tool, Hile said.

Response steps can now be automated.

"You can also automate dispatch now," Hile said. "You want to send the right guy; you don't want to send a guy with a knife to a gunfight."