When people in the physical security industry talk about ONVIF and PSIA specifications they only talk about basic features and interoperability. What they don’t discuss, because of a lack of understanding, might be the most surprising information coming out of ISC West last month: which is that both ONVIF and PSIA specifications have more device functionality built into their specifications than the custom device drivers developed by any of the other video or access control market share industry leaders. Even more impressive is that a single device driver supports the greatest number of devices from hundreds of different manufacturers.
The functionality being referenced is the device management capabilities. Device management is defined as being able to have advanced management of the hardware devices from the software interface running on a central server. For example, being able to provide functionality for:
• Camera device setup such as network discovery, IP addressing, user account management, or time zone configuration.
• Camera device configuration and operations such as media profile management, PTZ operations, or event notification.
• Camera device maintenance such as configuration backups, firmware updates, or factory default reset.
What is most impressive is that these features are supported across more than 700 devices from more than 100 different manufacturers all from a single software device driver. This type of functionality combined with the level of interoperability is unprecedented in our history, and this is just the beginning. Both ONVIF and PSIA are expanding these specifications to include intrusion detection, analytics, storage and display systems. All of this interoperability is based upon a common language that is being defined and based upon XML.
The Chicken or The Egg
The current problem with this great opportunity is that these specifications have not been proposed as a standard yet. This results in the end-user community delaying the adoption or the implementation of either of these specifications. In addition, the manufacturers conforming to these specifications are only doing so half-heartedly. They conform to the specification, but like the end-users community, they are not promoting the implementation of these specifications. Last, the specifications themselves have not required the software-based system providers like Genetec, Milestone or others to provide support for the features within their software interfaces. ONVIF and PSIA are only requiring the software providers to conform to basic communication to the devices at this time. However, this should change in the next iteration of their specifications.
These and other adoption hurdles appear mostly to do with the fact that the demand for industry education, planning and systems engineering always comes after the market adoption begins. In a quick survey of the existing education programs, the only one available at this time is the new Standards Boot Camp that was offered at ISC West and will be offered again at ISC Solutions in November in New York. From a planning perspective, security executives have the greatest opportunity to improve their security operations with standard features across all devices, as well as standard information sharing and event handling. Decision-makers also benefit with lower acquisition cost and total cost of ownership by being able to get away from proprietary systems and integrations. Systems engineers and A&E’s need to provide designs which utilize these specifications as alternatives to proprietary or single vendor designs which limit or delay the adoption of new technologies or features.
Call To Action
So where do you begin? A great place to start is by attending either ONVIF or PSIA education classes. These will provide comprehensive explanations, security technology strategies and implementation best practices. Second, set a new direction for your organization by modifying the master security plan to require the support of either ONVIF or PSIA specifications. Last, get involved in the future of physical security technology. It’s brighter and bigger than ever when our industry has feature-rich, standards-based and low-risk advanced technologies.