What's PSIM (and why are we calling it that)?

 - 
04/02/2009
As with any show, sometimes the best part is in the bar at 10 p.m. or so (early enough for good conversation, not so late that people are bombed and talking stupid (though that can also be entertaining)). Last night, I was arguing (in the good sense of the word - I like to argue and so should you. It's an art form) with Bob Beliles, VP at Hirsch and general good person to argue with. Basically, Bob mucked up the PSIM (physical security information management) panel at ISC West yesterday saying that basically PSIM is just the same thing that good access control software has been doing for years (a couple of years, anyway). Well, yeah. But if you go tell an integrator or an end user that you've got awesome access control software, what's going to make them think that you can do video? That you can handle alarm events? That you can put automated instructions in so that when an alarm happens the software tells the operator what to actually do? That a GPS-coordinated map will be called up to show where in your environment the alarm event is happening? That you can integrate with analytics software? Etc. If you want to call yourself access control software, go ahead. But don't get pissed at other people because you're underselling yourself and that people don't understand that you've got all these other crazy capabilities. Sometimes a new name has to be created for something when the old name doesn't suffice anymore. I've heard of these things with wheels that move forward (and sometimes backward), that you sit in with other people to go places. Stop calling them cars. They're what good horseless carriages have been doing for years. Stop with all that useless marketing speak, will ya? Is PSIM a term invented by Steve Hunt? I think so (Steve, or the guy who invented it, will correct me if I'm wrong). Could another term serve just as well? Obviously. We've got a lot of words in the English language. I was on the phone with a guy who sold video management as a service the other day and he says, "hey, I see you guys are calling it VaaS nowadays. Is that what you're going to call it?" I'm like, "um, I guess so. That's what I'm hearing other people call it." He says, "alright, that's what I'm going to call it, too." And this guy makes a good bit of money selling VaaS. But sometimes nomenclature matters when a new market is forming. It helps people figure out what the heck you're trying to sell them. And that new nomenclature has to start somewhere. So PSIM's not a bad way to describe the software capabilities that have developed relatively recently whereby you can use one GUI (another term that really, really sucks, but everyone uses it - took me six months in the industry before I knew what the hell it stood for) to look at information generated by your alarm system, your video system, your access control system, your fire system, your HVAC system, your lighting system, and all the other systems in your facility that matter for keeping people safe and happy. Well, safe anyway. If you want to gather up a bunch of people in the industry and get them all to call it something else, and they all agree to it, and then everyone starts calling it that, good for you. I'll call it that, too. I don't really care. But for now a lot of people are using PSIM and that's fine with me.

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