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many diverse system elements beyond the types found in typical PIDS, PACS, and video surveillance
configurations. For hierarchical integrated systems, the software is the portal to all the other systems. It
strives to consolidate and prioritize all the relevant information from all the components into a single
dashboard view including the integration and presentation of typical event-related functions, e.g. open a
door, move a camera, and/or acknowledge a smoke alarm.
PSIM functionality may also extend beyond physical security into the domain of airport operations. A PSIM
could, for example, be used to manage situations and learn from how they evolved, to manage non-security
and non-safety events such as a leaking toilet, an obstructed conveyor belt, over-crowding or preparation
for an approaching severe weather front.
A potential single point of failure is an upgrade to the PSIM itself, which could affect all the subsystem
connections. For this reason, good PSIM software will isolate core PSIM functionality from the gateways
or connections to the components. This means that upgrading PSIM is possible without affecting the
components A to Z.
A PSIM should accept new components to be integrated without changing the version of the software. This
independence is critical; if adding one new component changes the core software, this could at best require
complete system testing from scratch, and at worst, require that all the other component integrations be
updated. Each component might eventually require expansion, e.g. more cameras, more doors or more
perimeter sensors, and a PSIM should be designed to cope with such expansions without upsetting other
The system-level capabilities of PSIM come at a cost, not just for the customized device-specific drivers
that are required but it also makes the airport more dependent on the PSIM vendor to train its operating
personnel and to keep all elements of the integrated system current and protected from incompatibilities.
Incompatibility issues are not unique to PSIMs – they also apply to VMS integration, as when a camera
firmware update can neuter video analytic functions – but a PSIM, with its broader device coverage and
greater device interdependencies, may be more vulnerable as a result – and could become a single-point of
Moving to more complex PSIM solutions should be done only after carefully analyzing, and documenting,
the expected benefits, risks, and costs. A related issue is scaling, when large numbers of camera are
involved many running computationally-intensive analytics imposed by the PSIM.
Underneath most “integration packages” is a set of rules, usually static rules developed by engineers based
on what they learn about the airport’s functions and operations. Many rules-based packages are single-
event only, which really limits their use when simultaneously attacks occur (for example, a coordinated
strike against the fuel farm, a loaded cargo airliner on the tarmac, and the terminal). Even for a single event
scenario, airport security managers will still depend on their best judgment and, if the rules don’t support
them, the rules will be ignored – and may be counter-productive. The rules issue increases with increasing
levels of integration.
PSIM solutions typically provide rich reports because they automatically collect and combine data from
multiple systems, e.g. video, access, fire etc. In addition to these static reports, graphs showing trends can
provide insight for change. For example, which types of incidents are most common, how does their
frequency vary over time, how long does it take to resolve a given category of incident, etc. The final assist
is to reconstruct a given situation – to play it back in slow motion to see how it unfolds. This could include
all aspects of the incident including video, radio, voice telephony, asset movements tracked on a GIS-
coordinated map, systems and sensors providing real-time data and exactly who did what and when. Virtual
re-enactment of an incident provides insight as to how people, systems and processes performed, and what
changes should be made to improve system effectiveness.
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