ONVIF expanding and enforcing standards

September 2014 News

ONVIF, the Open Network Video Interface Forum, is focused on the adoption of IP in the security market. Until now, the company has focused on IP in the surveillance market, specifically by introducing standards for cameras. Hi-Tech Security Solutions spoke to Per Björkdahl, chairman of the ONVIF Steering Committee about where it stands with respect to standards and how it is expanding its IP drive to other areas of the security market.

Per Björkdahl
Per Björkdahl

The idea behind ONVIF specifications is that they will ensure interoperability between products regardless of manufacturer. Specifically, the ONVIF specification defines a common protocol for the exchange of information between network video devices, including automatic device discovery, video streaming and intelligence metadata. The cornerstones of ONVIF are:

* Standardisation of communication between IP-based physical security.

* Interoperability between IP-based physical security products regardless of manufacturer.

* It is open to all companies and organisations.

Björkdahl says the organisation is having increasing acceptance in the market as the IEC has also launched a drive to create standards in security-related areas and has recognised ONVIF’s efforts. The security market has also matured to a level where ONVIF is now respected and trusted. He notes that users, integrators and consultants are realising that ONVIF compliance means the choice of products to buy is easier as they can be sure the products they specify follow these international standards. The quality and price will differ between brands, but they can be sure the products conform to the relevant profile.

Smaller VMS developers are finding conformance a boost because it requires enormous resources and effort to keep their systems updated with every new or updated camera on the market. Björkdahl notes that ONVIF profiles are not full feature sets, but cover about 70% of the features for camera deployment. With ONVIF Profile S conformant products, they can be sure the basics are set in every conformant product, making it easier to support those cameras. This means less work for VMS developers as they can be sure they cover the basics and only have to work on the additional 30%.

Compliance cheats

There have been some publically raised queries of late in which issues have been raised about camera manufacturers that claim ONVIF conformance when their products are not. Björkdahl says ONVIF takes this seriously, as companies have invested time and money in helping to set the standards as well as make sure their products meet the Profile S specifications. He adds that it is not always company’s cheating with claims of compliant hardware, but sometimes a vendor assumes all cameras in a range are compliant (they are not), or will OEM hardware and assume ONVIF compliance is transferred with the OEM agreement (it’s not).

To deal with the cheats, however, ONVIF announced it is “launching a proactive education and enforcement campaign designed to ensure that all claims of ONVIF conformance by manufacturers of IP-based physical security products are valid”.

The initiative aims to protect the ONVIF brand and more pre-emptively monitor ONVIF’s copyrights, trademarks and logos on an ongoing basis. The campaign will also help further educate the manufacturing community about the specific requirements of compliance and their ability to advertise individual products as ONVIF conformant.

The only method of determining a product’s conformance is through a listing on the ONVIF website, where conformant products can be easily searched using a variety of criteria. An entry on the ONVIF website signifies that the product has undergone ONVIF’s comprehensive testing and conformance process, and has been individually certified by ONVIF as conformant. There are currently more than 3300 products listed.

Björkdahl says, “Our objective with this enforcement campaign is to reinforce to the market that the ONVIF name continues to represent interoperability to the market.”

ONVIF has introduced a new level of membership to provide access to the ONVIF test tool, which is used to test the validity of product conformance. This Observer membership level allows consultants, systems integrators and media organisations to individually validate the conformance of a specific product to a particular ONVIF profile.

More standards

ONVIF also recently released its Profile C specifications, designed to enable interoperability between clients and devices of access control systems and network-based video systems. Björkdahl says this is the first release and is a basic profile aimed at monitoring and is not yet a full access control profile. The full profile is in the works and will be released when ready.

He also notes that it is a young standard so there are not many compliant products yet and it will take time for the access control industry to adopt the standard as it is a fairly proprietary market.

The first edition of Profile G, the specification for on-board video storage, searching, retrieval capabilities and media playback has also been released. Profile G was created to refine the interoperability between live video and video storage. It covers cameras, encoders and network video recorder (NVR) devices as well as client systems such as video management systems, building management systems and physical security information management (PSIM) systems, among others.

“With the finalisation of Profile G, we have completed the circuit, providing the means whereby product manufacturers and software developers can present at a basic level an integrated video and access control system,” says Björkdahl.

For more information, go to www.onvif.org

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