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Empowering First Responders with Real-Time, Life Saving Information

Author: David Fowler

Copyright: Copyright 9-1-1 Magazine, Feature Content

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By David Fowler

In emergencies, time is critical. Ineffective or limited communication of information to first responders can be the difference between safety and disaster, life or death. To ensure a quick and safe response, responders need more visibility in to what is happening at the scene, prior to arrival.

This, not surprisingly, is easier said than done. Whether it’s a bomb in Times Square, a plane landing on the Hudson River, a fire in an office building or a shooting on campus, obtaining and sharing situation information and determining the right course of action in mere seconds can be overwhelming.

To improve safety and security, public safety organizations are rapidly deploying numerous physical security devices and systems. These technologies generate a lot of disconnected data that frequently exceeds their capacity to effectively find and process the important, relevant information in real time. As a result, it limits the ability to quickly identify situations and get the right information to the right people at the right time to rapidly resolve situations. Additionally, responses to situations can be inconsistent and the information pertaining to the response is difficult to gather for analysis, compliance tracking and further investigative requirements. The impact can be substantial, including financial damage, loss of assets and even the loss of life.

Technology to the Rescue

Security and safety officials need a solution that translates the data from any number of physical security devices and systems into relevant information that assists in detecting, analyzing, diagnosing and resolving situations – FAST. State-of-the-art technology to do this is now being used in a number of cities in the U.S. The software, called Physical Security Information Management (PSIM), provides a platform and applications that collect and correlate events from existing disparate security devices and information systems (video, access control, CAD, sensors, analytics, networks, building systems, etc.) to identify true situations and then provides personnel with the information and tools needed to resolve them.

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What is PSIM?

PSIM provides a complete situation awareness and management solution to efficiently and effectively manage any security, or emer¬gency situation in real time. It enables organizations to get the right information to the right people at the right time, while leveraging existing infrastructure investments.

A complete PSIM software system has five key capabilities:

Collection: Device management independent software collects data from any number of disparate security devices or systems.

Analysis: The system analyzes and correlates the data, events and alarms to identify the real situations and their priority.

Verification: PSIM software presents the relevant situation information in a quick and easily-digestible format for an operator to verify the situation.

Resolution: The system provides Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), step-by-step instructions based on best practices and an organization’s policies, and tools to resolve the situation.

Reporting: The PSIM software tracks all information and steps for compliance reporting, training and, potentially, in-depth investigative analysis.

For operators, PSIM software eliminates the need to manually review and correlate data from multiple systems, including video, thereby saving time and resources which translates to cost savings. Recall the security incident at Newark Airport that took place earlier this year when operators manually reviewed video footage to confirm there was a security breach. For each minute a terminal is shut down, the cost to each airline within it is approximately $25,000 or $1.5 million per hour. In the case of Newark, with a six hour closure, the resulting cost was upwards of $9M, a cost that could have been avoided had PSIM software been in place. With PSIM, video cameras are automatically brought up based on the location of a situation enabling verification in seconds or minutes – not hours.

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PSIM and Computer-Aided Dispatch

Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems are a crucial public safety tool. By integrating PSIM with CAD, real-time information can be shared seamlessly and immediately with CAD dispatchers, enabling more effective responses to emergency situations. Regardless of how the situation is initiated, this integration enables operators at multiple agencies to access all system information, including visual and audio data, from their disparate security systems and cameras in real time in order to verify situations and provide additional information as they dispatch first responders. The first responders now have access to emergency details such as on-the-scene video and pictures, chemical or biological sensor information, situation details (such as shots fired), situation maps and case notes in one view. Having this information prior to reaching the scene increases the safety and effectiveness of the responder.

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Improving Situation Response

PSIM provides security personnel and first responders with real-time information that enables more efficient, effective and safe resolu¬tion to situations. More specifically, it can provide responders with a view into relevant assets such as maps, floor plans and video prior to arriving on scene as well as provide updates as the situation evolves. For example, a 911 call may come in to a Dispatch Center regard¬ing a traffic accident. Trying to avoid the accident, a truck rollover occurs and spills hazardous material. With the aid of PSIM, operators can click on a map, locate the accident, pull up DOT video cameras in the area to verify the spill and create an Accident/Spill situation. A pre-defined action plan is also immediately brought up to further assist. Operators can start to plan for the environmental risks and cleanup based on the ability to view where plume or spill may be heading – before folks arrive on scene. Additionally, police can plan and predict evacuation routes, determine alternative routes, and identify where to stage police to block and detour vehicle and pedes¬trian traffic as they arrive on scene. The result is a more efficient and intelligent response that enables collaboration and information sharing across agencies, which saves time, money, and, in some situations, lives.

For example, in Long Island City, NY, the state-of-the-art Joint Transportation Management Center (JTMC), one of the largest transportation centers in North America, uses PSIM to help in emergency response across multiple agencies. It is focused on around-the-clock coordination and communication among the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Region 11, New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), New York Police Department (NYPD), the Federal Highway Administration and other partner agencies in the metropolitan area to manage daily transportation incidents and reduce congestion on some of the busiest expressways in the world.

[see the JTMC in action here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmZSLtwrguk].

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The City of Davenport Puts PSIM to Work

The City of Davenport, Iowa, invested in PSIM software to provide a common operating picture across all video sources within the city to help improve public safety, boost the efficiency of its police and fire departments, and provide remote surveillance of high traffic and crime areas. Video and data feeds are now shared with multiple departments as well as emergency and public safety personnel to provide valuable real-time information to manage and resolve situations and incidents. PSIM enables law enforcement officers to monitor multiple locales within a specified area while remaining static in the squad car. Visual monitoring allows the officer to quickly identify and assess areas where incidents may be evolving.

In order to minimize vandalism to property, if a 911 call is made about a suspect, an officer can pull up cameras at the reported location and quickly review live and recorded video of the situation. In unfolding situations, the image of the subject can be captured and sent to the command center for identification and tracking until officers arrive on scene, armed with situation details from the operator.

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Empowering First Responders

It may helping provide early reconnaissance of an unknown incident, which enables emergency operation centers to better plan responses while enhancing first responder safety. Or it could be allowing operators to identify a hazmat spill and provide police guidance on evacuation and alternative routes for the public before anyone arrives on scene. Regardless of the situation specifics, PSIM technology makes it possible to intelligently bring information directly to who needs it when they need it. As a result, first responders and public safety professionals are empowered to more effectively protect the public when security situations arise.

David Fowler is a veteran of the software industry, with more than 30 years of industry and senior management experience in marketing, product management and development, business development, and sales. His most recent role was as the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for Pragmatech software. Fowler has been a frequent speaker at industry conferences on technology topics (security, CRM, networking and collaboration) as well as sales, marketing effectiveness, and has been published and quoted in a variety of business and technology publications.

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