ONVIF celebrates milestone achievements at ASIS 2015

Sept. 29, 2015
A Q&A with ONVIF Communication Committee Chairman Stuart Rawling

In an industry that was once sorely lacking for standards, ONVIF has managed to make significant strides in the seven years since it was first established. In fact, the standards body recently announced that nearly 5,000 physical security products have been registered as ONVIF-complaint and that they now have more than 500 member companies. In addition, ONVIF recently released Profile A for advanced access control, which is designed to establish an interface for access control clients and expands the configuration options for ONVIF conformant access control systems.

SIW sat down this week at ASIS 2015 with Stuart Rawling, chairman of the ONVIF Communication Committee, to get his take on what the organizational milestones mean for the industry as a whole, as well what some their goals are moving forward.

SIW: Given the increase in the number of conformant products we’ve seen over the past year, what do you think it says about the industry’s commitment to interoperability?

Rawling: I think it says an awful lot. The transition that the industry made from analog to IP initially created a lot of proprietary standards and things like that that is inevitable in any technology curve. And then you hit an industry maturity level where you realize that there needs to be some standards initiative that allows everybody to talk together and make it cheaper for manufacturers to make products work together and make it easier for systems integrators and end users to deploy products together. This is a technology bell curve that happens in every industry when you go into the IP space or any big transition like this.

For me, there are a few things I measure when I look at how successful ONVIF has been: one is the number of conformant products, obviously the larger the number the larger the participation by various manufacturers. The second thing is the number of members in the organization and, specifically, the number that actually spend time and their own dollars contributing to the development of the standard. If you flip to the other side and you talk about how the industry is responding, we’ve been measuring the industry awareness through surveys at tradeshows and other industry events and the awareness is steadily on the rise. Not only are they aware of ONVIF, but they actually understand it, especially in the systems integrators and consultant group. We see project requirements coming out with ONVIF as a requirement. That’s almost a standard line item these days.

SIW: Would you say those requirements for ONVIF-compliant products in projects are what has been the catalyst for the increasing adoption of ONVIF standards by manufacturers?

Rawling: I think so. If I had to create a video management system back in 2008, the only way I could sell a product was having massive amounts of interoperability because you wanted to talk to as many cameras as you could in order to sell the product, but the bar of entry was very high because you had to get the camera manufacturers to work with your software. The same thing for camera manufacturers, you would have to create a camera, a new API and then go to all of the VMS providers and get them to link together, which is time and money spent by the manufacturer that doesn’t necessarily translate to the end user or systems integrator when they’re licensing the product, not directly anyways. I think what we’ve seen in the past few years with ONVIF is that it has opened the market up to a bit more competition and there have been some new entrants that have come in and a lot of those entrants have based their integration strategy on the ONVIF profile. That’s one of the enablers that ONVIF has offered the industry.

SIW: What was the impetus behind the development of Profile A and what are you hoping to achieve through its release?

Rawling: The vision is to really reach out to the entire physical security market, so that covers video, which we are probably most famous for, but also access control. We started a few years ago and formed an access control group to start looking at what the needs for the industry were with regards to standardization and we focused really on that kind of device-level interoperability. The initial functionality that we believed was appropriate for Profile C was really focused on the needs of the device to communicate information back and forth. Profile A basically expands on that and sits next to Profile C and adds a lot more functionality and requirements for various different aspects of what you would need in an access control system.

SIW: Are there any areas where you feel standards are lacking in the industry that you will be looking to address in the months and years ahead?

Rawling: There are a couple of areas where we do think we’re lacking. Obviously, we talked about the credentialing requirements within access control and that’s one of the biggest aspects of Profile A. Another area was the installation phase of any physical security device and we developed Profile Q, which is an upcoming standard to deal with that initial, out-of-the-box configuration. If manufacturers implement Profile Q, they will all have an out-of-the-box mold that will make installations easier to actually manage. I think another area we are excited to take a look at is we’re going back a bit and looking at where video has changed since we released Profile S in 2010 and where the market is trending towards now and what technologies are out there so we have a working group looking at what the industry will look like in a couple of years and what steps ONVIF needs to take now in order to meet the needs of the industry so that we don’t end back up in a situation where you have proprietary interfaces for H.265, streaming protocols or things like that.

SIW: What’s next on the horizon for ONVIF and how do you plan to keep this momentum going?

Rawling: There are a couple of things we need to do alongside developing new industry standards for technology. One of the things we need to do is really help the consultant and A&E industry understand what ONVIF is and how it can help their clients. That’s one area that I really think would help ONVIF, just to go out there and do some education. One of the things that we’ve always done is monitoring the industry and looking around for where there are false claims of conformance and taking appropriate action there. One thing we’ve found is that a manufacturer who may be new to the industry doesn’t realize that ONVIF is a member-driven organization and in order to claim conformance they must be a member. We have had some claims that haven’t gone through the necessary conformance steps and it’s our job as an organization to protect our brand and the brand of our manufacturers to make sure the standard doesn’t get diluted by subpar implementations. 

About the Author

Joel Griffin | Editor-in-Chief, SecurityInfoWatch.com

Joel Griffin is the Editor-in-Chief of SecurityInfoWatch.com, a business-to-business news website published by Endeavor Business Media that covers all aspects of the physical security industry. Joel has covered the security industry since May 2008 when he first joined the site as assistant editor. Prior to SecurityInfoWatch, Joel worked as a staff reporter for two years at the Newton Citizen, a daily newspaper located in the suburban Atlanta city of Covington, Ga.