One important aspect of IP-based broadband communications is that they will enable public-safety agencies in the future to receive information from a much wider variety of inputs, and facilitate the sharing of that multimedia with neighboring agencies in real time, in order to enhance situational awareness and emergency response.

For this integration and sharing to be most effective, agencies will need tools that allow them to make sense of it all. That’s where physical security information management (PSIM) technology—first introduced about five years ago—comes into play, according to Diamond Chaflawee, director of public-safety marketing for NICE Systems.

“PSIM started not in public safety, but in security, largely at organizations with secure operations—such as airports, mass transit and critical-infrastructure utilities—that were using different types of security systems,” Chaflawee said. “The problem was connecting the information from those various systems into one logical interface, so that there would be a better understanding of the situation. That’s the main problem that PSIM is trying to solve.”

Chaflawee outlined a hypothetical active shooter situation to illustrate how PSIM technology might benefit public-safety agencies in the future. First, the shooting takes place in the parking lot of a sports arena. Next, a gunshot-detection system that the city has deployed provides an alert and identifies the location of the shooting. Based on that location, the PSIM system automatically accesses video being captured by the camera closest to the incident. It also integrates video being sent to a next-generation public-safety answering point (PSAP) by citizens using their smartphones.

Meanwhile, the agency’s GIS platform not only maps the exact location of the parking lot, it also creates a geo-fence around the area—information that is fed by the PSIM system into the agency’s emergency-alert platform. Alert messages are pushed to citizens that tell them to avoid the area and instructions are provided to those still within the perimeter.

Finally, the PSIM system automatically alerts trauma centers in the area that they might soon be receiving casualties and distributes appropriate pre-determined response plans—based on the incident level—to incident commanders and other first-responders.

Chaflawee said the key takeaway from this hypothetical scenario is that PSIM technology coalesces a wide array of inputs into a cohesive perspective that lets dispatchers and incident commanders benefit from enhanced situational awareness. All of this information can be shared seamlessly, via the PSIM system, between the PSAP, the city’s emergency operations center, and the police and fire mobile-command posts.

While it might seem that PSIM technology would make a PSAP’s computer-aided dispatch system obsolete, Chaflawee stressed that this isn’t the case.

“PSIM integrates multiple systems, one of which is CAD,” he said. “In fact, information is shared through the CAD interface in real time to provide the information needed to enable multiagency collaboration … and to provide a 360-degree view of what happened.”