Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
December 11, 2014

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Want a Future-Proof Cyber Security Strategy? Look at Physical Security Now

PSIM and Smart Buildings: NICE Systems Q&A

situator expressIntelligent or smart buildings are very much prominent in the security zeitgeist right now.

In the final part of our interview with NICE Systems’ security marketing manager EMEA (the first part was about aviation security, the second part about transport security), we quizzed Jamie Wilson about integrating PSIM with legacy building management systems and persuading decision-makers to invest big in the short term to cut energy costs in the long term.

IFSEC Global: What are the benefits of smart/intelligent buildings?

Jamie W: If you’ve got a big building or a building management system managing a number of different sites and you’re getting lights left on over a period of time, you’re getting incremental benefits with a PSIM solution. You’ve got air conditioning, lights, and you’ve got heating being used when they’re not needed – ie,  when people are not in the rooms. If you’re able to make savings over a year, over a large number of buildings, that really starts to add up in the end.

If there’s a guy sitting down managing the building, it’s after hours and the lights come on in the fifth floor: what does he do? Is this a malfunction of the lights, is there a burglary, are we being burgled here?

Do I need to send a SWAT team in with guns blazing or do I need to send a caretaker or do I need to send an engineer? And that, I think, is where PSIM can really add some benefit.

If the lights come on then the PSIM solution points the camera at it.  Then perhaps we find out that somebody’s obviously been working overtime and they haven’t told anyone.

Alternatively, the light’s left on, it’s looking suspicious, there’s stuff being moved around and I don’t know who those characters are, so I need to get the police involved.

So it improves your resource allocation when you’ve got an incident happening. I don’t want to send the caretaker in if I’ve intruders, but equally I don’t want to send the police in if someone’s forgot to turn his light off.

IG: Can you give any examples of where you’ve helped customers make their buildings become more ‘smart’?

JW: One of our customers is Millennium Bank, who wanted to take their building management system to the next level. They wanted to plug in air conditioning and heating, because they’re managing 900 banks and they could get that incremental benefit and massive savings.

IG: What about integration with legacy systems and buildings – how difficult is that?

JW: One of the things that we chime on about is our PSIM solution as ‘open gateways’. You don’t have to rip and replace.

We’ve integrated radar, sonar, cameras, IP and analogue – whatever really. It was one of the advantages with Millennium Bank because they’d grown their network of banks through acquisitions over the years and so they had a wide range of different equipment and systems.

So it just makes it so much easier for them to manage it all under one roof.

IG: How hard is it to convince businesses of the merits of making the big initial investment to recoup and then save money over the long term through incremental benefits?

JW: If you’re selling a PSIM solution, you need to get in front of the right people, the key decision-makers, the stakeholders. Because if you speak to the guy who’s managing the cameras, he’s not going to see the benefit.

You need to speak to the person who’s managing all of the security centres. The guy who can step back and say “over the last year we spent £300,000 on air conditioning and video cameras. If we can bring that cost down we can redeploy resources.”

Then you see the light bulbs going on. It’s not a transactional sale; where we have great success is when you’ve got everybody sat around the table, you’ve got the CCTV going, you’ve got the head of finance there, the MD, the CEO and then they can all see the benefit – then it’s a solution sale.

Whereas traditionally it would be security people involved in this, you are now seeing IT people getting involved. So I think it’s quite an exciting time at the moment.

IG: How long do you think before we get smaller businesses buying smart building technologies?

JW: I think there are different levels here. At NICE we speak to tier one customers, the the King’s Crosses, the Millennium Banks, the big customers in those fields.

As technology moves on, in 10, 20 years’ time everything then filters down, prices come down. I believe we’re still in that educational phase of educating people and there are some great early adopters who have already seen the benefits, and I think in time it will start to filter down.

There are video management systems used by small to medium-sized companies but when you compare them to a real PSIM solution, you know we’re actually talking about workflow management.

If you’ve got a small building with a few employees, a video management system is a good thing to have, but you don’t need it to be as advanced because you don’t have those incidents happening every day.

But if you’re managing 900 branches across the country, then you’ll have incidents happening every few minutes.

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