APSIM, the natural evolution of PSIM

Mar 14, 2017 in Articles
APSIM, the natural evolution of PSIM

I have been working for many years in control room design and implementation projects, in environments such as SOC (Security Operations Center) and NOC (Network Operations Center) for all kind of customers, civil and military. I have always placed the utmost care in all phases of design of a control room, constantly applying the now famous approach “human-centered design“, based upon the research of right balance among usability, ergonomics and functionality of an environment dedicated to the management of any kind of emergencies. You could “just” translating everything above in optimization and rationalization of available spaces on operational flows, accommodation and coloring of furnish and walls, calculation of required video area in order to show graphic and alphanumeric contents, lighting, audio and more.

Then, one day, I suddenly found myself in the middle of a real emergency situation, in an industrial environment, and I finally realized that the real needs of control room operators was not to have a comfortable room, but handle the emergency through a single computer system, unified for all information flows coming from the field, capable of drastically reducing the time of problem understanding and speed-up the application of the necessary intervention procedures, all regulated by the operators to support procedures.

Any organization that has in managing a complex physical security and industrial automation infrastructure, daily faces many problems related to the fragmentation of applications and systems used to control plants, such as the diversification of information, the excessive manual work required by operating procedures, the inability to correlate alarms and events generated by different systems, the inapplicability of preventive procedures, the messy deployment of workstations and the lack of interoperability of installed software applications. Efficiency, performance, timeliness, procedures, events and / or specific alarms therefore become difficult to control and manage in a related and homogeneous manner, consequently determining a cross-reduction of infrastructures in exercise and a vertical decline in terms of quality of provided services.

The solution? A single computer system able to interact with heterogeneous operating technologies, streamline and make efficient all operating flows.

In recent years, there is much talk of this class of solutions, often classified by the acronym of P.S.I.M. (Physical Security Information Management). Here the reader will grant me some small “poetic license”, given the decades of experience gained in this specific area:

a.   The information management systems have always existed and the real innovation lies in the new life that PSIM movement is producing within the dedicated command and control technology markets.

b.   The meaning which carries the acronym of PSIM, as we know, is perhaps a bit simplistic compared to the fact that today, the physical security technologies (such as intrusion detection, CCTV, access control, fire detection, etc.) should be considered inextricably linked to those of industrial automation: therefore the author will discuss later in this article about APSIM (automation & Physical Security Information Management) and not more PSIM.

c.   APSIM definitely exceeds the concept of SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition), significantly increasing the level of command and control efficiency up to arrive to procedures automation, full management of cross-technology infrastructure and predictive maintenance.

An IT solution APSIM is designed to definitively solve the problems related to the world of the supervision and control of special plants, of whatever nature and kind. APSIM solution allows you to:

–      Simplify and automate the operational and maintenance procedures.

–      Reduce the deployment of human resources and operating costs.

–      Adding value to infrastructure and apply the ROI.

–      Manage in a simplified way the large volumes of data and information.

–      Increase the efficiency of complex scenarios.

–      Globally improve the quality of provided services.

By APSIM the command and control room definitively unifies the supervision of non-homogeneous systems, characterized by different manufacturers, technologies and systems, allowing the organization to get the total control of infrastructure regardless of its complexity, a better awareness of general situation and accurate management reporting.

Integrate an IT solution like APSIM in own command and control room means reduce operating costs through increased efficiency, increase the level of security with greater distributed intelligence and ensure a reasonable return on investment by adding value to the entire technology ecosystem, new or already in service.

The architecture of an APSIM solution therefore expects the interconnection of heterogeneous sensors through the interface, sometimes massive, of data collection and coding peripheral units. The computational and trading processes are evenly distributed within the modules that make up the solution, in order to drastically reduce the number of single points of failure of the entire architecture and increasing the resilience.

APSIM generally provides a set of subsystems able to compose a platform to collect and correlate events from heterogeneous devices and information systems (video, access control, sensors, analysis, networking, industrial systems, etc.) to empower users, enhancing its effectiveness and efficiency, proactively identify threats and promptly resolve operational situations.

The software architecture is modular and is designed to ensure scalability, robustness and interoperability. The flexibility of the platform allows you to extend compatibility to any type of hardware device you want to submit to monitoring, using a unique internal communication protocol.

The front end of platform users is a single latest generation Web application, dedicated to the world of command and control rooms onto Workstation, able to ergonomically present the unified supervision and control of installations, configurations, events correlation and intervention procedures. Customized APP can extend the operation on mobility.

The platform is designed to meet the specific needs in terms of physical integrity protection (hardware), logical-functional (software) and of course the hosted and / or exchanged data.

Contrary to SCADA philosophy, APSIM ensures interoperability with third-party systems already in service, allowing to achieve high levels of operational efficiency and the introduction of a high level of application scalability over time.

STONE Group is the market leader in the field of unified command and control technologies thanks to a depth expertise achieved in design and realization of “turnkey” systems, from layout design to APSIM solution implementation with a high customization degree.