PSIA demonstrates interoperability of v1.0 IP video spec

The Physical Security Interoperability Alliance (PSIA) announced a major step this week in terms of the overall push for standards when it demonstrated the PSIA device specification allowing an IQinVision camera to connect with Milestone Systems' video management software platform.

Previously, the device specification had been demonstrated inside an IQinVision camera during ISC West 2009, but this was the first time that the specification, IP Media Device 1.0, was shown to connect a PSIA-compliant camera with a video management system for recording. The "plug test" was between IQinVision's 2MP IQeye camera and the XProtect Enterprise 6.5 VMS from Milestone.

According to a statement from PSIA Executive Director David Bunzel, the XProtect system "was able to instantaneously identify and communicate with IQinVision’s 2MP IQeye camera."

"At the proof of concept meeting [which the meeting which demonstrated the Milestone system connect to the IQeye camera using the PSIA standard], there were about 25 different vendors, and everybody saw it," explained Eric Fullerton, Milestone's Chief Sales & Marketing Officer and President of the company's operations in the Americas. "The camera was put online and our software was on the server, and they found each other, installed, and then it was up and running."

Fullerton said having specifications like PSIA 1.0 is a big help for his company's products, which often manage hundreds of networked video surveillance cameras. Currently, the company supports over 700 different network video devices (cameras and encoders), mostly by building unique drivers. Fullerton noted that having to create individual drivers for all the new cameras (and then sometimes having to update those drivers as the cameras' own firmware is updated) can be tedious work that requires a great deal of effort from the Milestone Systems engineering team. Fullerton said that the company is always receiving requests from more vendors to have Milestone support their products, and he noted that by supporting a device standard like the PSIA 1.0 spec (or the competing standards coming out of the Open Network Video Interface Forum, ONVIF), it gives Milestone the ability to instantly support those cameras if the camera companies use the specification.

"With the ONVIF and the PSIA standards, for those basic functionalities like video, and I/O, and audio, it's really going to make our job a lot easier," said Fullerton, who added that the release of standards could change the vendor landscape. "I think it was very significant to our industry, because it means that people who hadn't gone into the IP world, but who had done analog cameras, they're now going to say, 'We're going to do these IP camera adhering to the standard because we know it works.' Those companies are now going to start building IP cameras."

Fullerton said he also thought the availability of the standard is going to push down the cost of IP cameras to close to the same cost of analog cameras, because companies now could build basic IP cameras that they know will work because they use the IP video standards.

John Honovich, a video surveillance industry analyst and author of, said that the demonstration of the specification doesn't mean IP video standards are perfected.

"Demonstrations are much easier to do than rolling out features in production, which requires significant additional testing," said Honovich. "Furthermore, interoperability specifications are only valuable if many companies offer support in production."

Besides the IQinVision effort, the PSIA specification is already seeing integration into other vendors' products. Dennis Charlebois, the director of product marketing for Cisco's Physical Security Business Unit said that Cisco is already deploying the PSIA specification into its cameras for testing purposes, and Cisco's Physical Security Business Unit Director of Business Development Steve Collen said he expects to see Cisco publicly unveil cameras with the specification in 2010. Cisco was one of the early leaders of the PSIA initiative.

According to Dave Bunzel, the executive director of PSIA, the organization is planning something of a "plug fest" that tests and demonstrates interoperability of multiple vendors using the PSIA IP Media Device v1.0 in Anaheim, Calif., during the ASIS 2009 tradeshow. Bunzel said the group is also in the process of developing a conformance testing program that will verify that devices are properly implementing PSIA specs.

Bunzel noted also that PSIA has groups not only working on the video specification, but also standards groups putting in efforts to develop video analytics standards, recording and content management standards, and standards for "area control", which includes access control and intrusion detection. He said that PSIA is likely to release a v.9 type of specification for comment from the recording and content management group next, and that such a specification could even be released within the next two months. All specifications are designed to work together and will be backwards compatible as updated specifications are released.