A simple web search for the term “physical security” yields nearly 13 million results. A quick perusal of the first dozen or so yields little argument over the basic meaning of the phrase. As one well-known site defines it, “Physical security is the protection of personnel, hardware, programs, networks, and data from physical circumstances and events that could cause serious losses or damage to an enterprise, agency, or institution. This includes protection from fire, natural disasters, burglary, theft, vandalism, and terrorism.”
Since the Nexus Physical Security team is exhibiting at AFCEA West this week, this topic has been top-of-mind and we felt it was definitely worthy of a blog post. At Nexus, we pride ourselves on engineering and deploying technology-based systems that protect the people, places and things that are important, providing security as a service of the network. Over the past few decades, security solutions have evolved from legacy, serial-based communications options to highly sophisticated, integrated, converged, IT-based systems.
Providing physical security as a service of the network has multiple advantages. Physical Security Information Management (PSIM) software is a unique combination of video management for security and surveillance applications along with situation (incident and event) management. In Frost & Sullivan’s recent report, “Analysis of the Worldwide Physical Security Information Management Market” (Nov, 2010), the worldwide PSIM market is predicted to grow from $80 million in 2009 to $544 million in 2015, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 37%. Even a cursory look at the most obvious benefits helps explain the phenomenal growth.
Traditionally, organizations employed a series of video surveillance cameras to capture video, monitoring access points and “virtually” patrolling large physical areas. But those feeds had to be monitored or reviewed in real-time in order to stop an imminent threat, and the success rate was only as good as the reviewer(s). PSIM software can now automatically review incoming video footage, comparing it to a set of previously programmed standards and signaling when an exception occurs. The system then sends an automatic alert to a smartphone client, dispatching the closest personnel, and including the video snippet in question, so responders have instant intel on the situation or suspect.
In addition to the obvious threat-deterrent and threat-resolution benefits, these applications can also be used to improve customer service. For example, the same video surveillance system that monitors the line of tellers at a bank can be programmed to determine when the line of customers reaches a certain point, and to alert additional tellers to open when needed. In retail settings, video analytics can be used to identify groups of people throughout the store, out-of-bounds behavior, and lengthening checkout lines. They can even help retailers evaluate the effectiveness of merchandising displays and advertising by capturing customer reactions.
Frost & Sullivan’s report concludes that “Declining costs and greater sophistication are boosting the adoption of PSIM” and the advanced use of wizards and plug-and-play technology makes PSIM solutions viable not just for critical infrastructure protection and homeland security, but also for large- and medium-sized organizations.