It’s easy to see why the Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP), has become the security industry’s gold standard for access control installations. It enhances security, adds flexibility and makes systems easy to update and integrate with other devices.

The Security Industry Association (SIA), with significant input from manufacturers and integrators, introduced OSDP in 2011 and it is now recommended for any public or private enterprise installation requiring a high level of security. Earlier this year, the International Electrotechnical Commission approved OSDP as an international standard.


OSPD as an alternative

OSDP originated as an alternative to the aging Weigand wiring protocol. Weigand-based systems, used for more than 40 years, lack signal encryption, making it easy for hackers to intercept transmissions between proximity cards and readers and then use the data to create a working credential. Surprisingly, there is still a large Weigand installation base worldwide. It’s past time for those end users to migrate from Weigand technology and embrace the OSDP protocol.

Today’s new access credentials take security to a new level with embedded microcontroller-based integrated circuits. OSDP readers have the speed to work with virtually all of today’s most versatile and secure card technologies, including DESFire EV2. It’s easy to change card encryption keys frequently to enhance security. In doing so, there’s no need to create new credentials for each user or reprogram individual readers.

OSDP’s bi-directional communications capabilities enable firmware and software updates to be pushed simultaneously to hundreds, even thousands, of readers. Updates are done on a reader-by-reader basis using the Weigand protocol.

There are even more reasons to make a move to OSDP. Weigand readers require homerun pulls from the control panel to each peripheral device. Daisy chained OSDP readers provide savings on cabling and installation time. OSDP works with biometric devices, while Weigand does only with time-consuming workarounds.

While it’s agreed throughout the industry that OSDP should be on everyone’s best practices list, there are some things to consider before beginning a new project.


Things to consider

Migration – The need for improved security screams for a rapid change to an OSDP-based access control system. However, an upgrade eventually will require the replacement of all readers. That level of activity may lead to disruptions and be challenging to complete within a single budget cycle. If that’s the case, begin with new OSDP-enabled readers and credentials at perimeter entries. Devices at softer-target interior doors may be replaced as time and budget allow.

Cabling – Existing cabling from a Weigand-based system might work with updated OSDP readers. But new RS-485 cabling is recommended for full and reliable performance. Cable runs of 1,000 feet or more are possible with OSDP and RS-485, about twice what’s possible with a Weigand system.

Decommissioning – Existing Weigand readers contain infrastructure details and crypto keys. Complete a full decommissioning process that includes resetting the readers to factory default, zeroize (or render inert) the crypto keys and confirm the new system understands the old readers are gone.


SIA verified

SIA Verified – The Security Industry Association runs a comprehensive testing program to validate that devices conform to the OSDP standards. Products meeting the criteria may display the SIA OSDP Verified mark and added to the association’s verified product list. This list is an excellent place to start when planning a new system.

Choosing an integrator – An OSDP project can be complicated and requires the skills of a trained and experienced system integrator. Picking a good one is vital to a proper installation. SIA-approved “boot camps” provide an integrator’s project managers and field technicians with educational sessions and hands-on exercises to gain familiarity with the protocol. Ask if an integrator’s staff has completed OSDP training. And make sure the training included more than one or two techs. You’ll want everyone working on your enterprise system to understand the technology. Also, ask for a list of OSDP projects the integrator has completed. Experience counts.

The cost of replacing the older technology and devices keeps them in widespread use. Yet, it’s clear OSDP offers higher levels of security, flexibility, convenience and performance. The case for making the switch from outdated Weigand systems is overwhelming. Work with an integrator to make the upgrade now before suffering a costly security breach.