A Little Chat with ONVIF

A Little Chat with ONVIF

Due to several high-profile and well-publicized recent cyber breaches, data and system security have become top priorities for customers. At the same time, the call for increased interoperability grows. As is the case in many markets and across most technologies, customers want their devices to work together, regardless of brand. Within physical security, we are also seeing new developments in the access control market.

With these trends in mind, we recently spoke with Steering Committee Chair of ONVIF, Per Björkdahl for his thoughts on how ONVIF is affected by these trends and how ONVIF’s standards are helping to shape the future of physical security.

Q. There have been many highly publicized cyber security breaches in the last year. How does this affect ONVIF and what the organization does?

“These high profile cases can’t help but affect how new ONVIF profiles are developed, though there have not been many high-profile incidents within the physical security industry thus far, which is good news. ONVIF’s newly released Profile Q actually addresses the issue of security. Profile Q is a new profile that specifies the use of Transport Layer Security (TLS) as conditional, meaning that if the product has the feature it must be available on the ONVIF interface to meet profile conformance. Profile Q also mandates HTTP Digest Authentication and a ‘Default Access Policy,’ which is an improvement of security in the communication with conformant devices.’”

Q. ONVIF is known for its roots in the IP video market. How have standards influenced the video surveillance market and what exactly is ONVIF’s role or goal?

“The creation of and compliance with standards have played a significant role in the network video market’s development. Standards have made it possible to combine system components together, which has taken the video surveillance market into a new realm, expanding its use to other industries.

“Network video has been greatly influenced by the general IT industry and its standards. ONVIF builds upon IT standards by offering a defined approach specific to manufacturers of physical security products. ONVIF’s mission is to foster the creation of security systems that all share the same communication interface, which ultimately benefits end users and integrators by giving them the freedom to choose, for example, one brand for some of their card readers and perhaps a different brand later on, knowing that the two brands of readers will work together.”

Q. ONVIF has also expanded into physical access control. What impacts has the organization seen on the access control market as a result?

The access control market is beginning to expect freedom of choice, similar to the choices that the IP video market can now offer. End users want to select an access control management platform in an a la carte fashion, creating a solution made up of a variety of different IP-based door controllers and card readers. Of course, end users also want to have the freedom to integrate video and access control systems together to form a complete security solution. Standards make it possible for end users to choose the “best of breed” solution, a custom solution made up of different manufacturers’ products, rather than committing all their resources to one brand of products.”

Q. What is ONVIF’s role in the access control market?

“The access control market has traditionally been very proprietary; therefore, standards can really open up the access control market to new technology innovations. ONVIF’s role has been and will continue to be to find commonality among manufacturers’ products and to offer an option for interoperability that meets the needs of most users. ONVIF’s Profile C covers the basics of access control, such as door monitoring and control. Profile C creates a baseline for interoperability, which will continue to grow as additional technology innovations and new manufacturers enter the market.”

Q. As the need and demand for integration increases, how can ONVIF help make all these different technologies work together?

“Establishing specifications and teaching the community about them is an important step in the journey to interoperability. When a set of technical specifications is developed, they define how devices are expected to work. Developing a specification and complying with it establishes basic ground rules. It’s also an indication that the past proprietary model is not as effective as it once was. End users expect multiple brands and technologies to work together. ONVIF will continue to be integral in helping to make that happen by updating and creating standards as needs, technologies and expectations change.”

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