Most of us can’t make it through a day without being barraged by a steady stream of text messages, e-mails, friend requests, Facebook posts, etc. We live in an ultra connected digital world with unprecedented access to information — anytime, anyplace. With this data onslaught, it’s easy to switch into “automatic mode” or just filter most of it out. After all, are those 34 spam e-mails really a life or death matter? And will the earth come to an end if we miss out on Aunt Sally’s Facebook post about what she ate for dinner last night?
While it’s acceptable to filter out such non-essential clatter in our personal lives, we certainly wouldn’t find it acceptable if the command center for the transit system we rode to work everyday missed information that could have otherwise prevented or resolved a crime, accident, emergency or terrorist threat. Such are the types of situations that transit command centers need to prepare for and deal with daily.
Ironically, the very security technologies that transit agencies invest in to improve security and safety — video surveillance, fire systems, access control, intrusion detection, communications systems, intercoms, GIS, CAD, LPR, video analytics, radiological and laser sensors — can create a flood of data that confounds their very ability to deal with situations effectively. For example, research shows that as the number of cameras increase, the operator’s ability to monitor them effectively diminishes; and here we’re not just talking video cameras, but potentially thousands or tens of thousands of sensors spread over hundreds of locations, all feeding into the command center.
With this much data, how can a security operator separate out what’s important from what’s not, and know how to respond? It takes more than experience and training; the right technology is essential.
This article explores some of the latest security surveillance technology advancements which can help cut through the clutter of big data and keep transit operations safe, secure and running smoothly.
Let’s Start with PSIM
PSIM stands for physical security information management. It is a catch-all term to describe an open architecture, interoperable software solution that integrates various security, communication, safety, alerting and sensing systems into one unified command and control desktop application. This means the operator sees “the big picture” on one screen, rather than having to navigate multiple systems.
There are different tiers of PSIM, ranging from the basic level (typically integrating just a few systems) to top level (Tier 1) solutions that not only offer unified integration of many diverse sensors and systems, but also empower organizations to address the “what to do next,” by incorporating automated, adaptive response plans.
Such high-level PSIM solutions guide operator responses to situations based on all of the different indicators of what’s happening and in accordance with the organization’s best practices. Adaptive, pre-defined response plans ensure that the organization’s standard operating procedures are consistently followed by operators, whether they’re seasoned employees or mere weeks on the job
PSIM analyzes and correlates information and alerts from the integrated subsystems in real time. It connects the dots between seemingly unrelated events, providing rich situational awareness. For example, a PSIM system could correlate alarms from different perimeter intrusion systems such as radar, microwave detection systems, fence shake detectors and video analytics running on cameras. Multiple simultaneous alerts could signify it’s less likely to be a false alarm and more likely to be a legitimate perimeter intrusion threat.
PSIM can also tie your transit command center in with other agencies (police, fire, EMS, a city surveillance center) as well as field personnel. If there’s a major incident or threat on the transit system, everyone involved shares the same common operating picture and works off the same response plan.