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ONVIF looks ahead following a year of growing impact for the open industry forum

Published on 20 October, 2016

ONVIF will be eight years old in the next several weeks. It has been interesting to watch the open industry forum’s impact on physical security since it began in 2008 with a goal to develop a global standard for the interface of IP-based physical security products.

ONVIF’s influence has accelerated just in the last year, with the number of ONVIF-conformant products in the market growing from about 5,000 a year ago to more than 7,000 today – more than a 40 percent increase.

ONVIF’s Profile S for streaming video applications is one of their success stories. To stay on top of industry changes, ONVIF’s committees will be watching closely the changes in video streaming technologies, such as H.265, high-resolution cameras, etc., and their possible impact on Profile S and other work by ONVIF. 

A milestone for ONVIF occurred this summer with the final release of the ONVIF Profile Q, aimed at enabling integrators to connect cameras more easily for quicker installs. The profile also benefits manufacturers who don’t have to accommodate as many variables when connecting with their various technology partners. Profile Q has been available in the draft stage for six months or so. Now that the final version is available, ONVIF will be working with manufacturers to list the first Profile Q-conformant products. “We saw a gap, and this profile can certainly help,” says Jonathan Lewitt, Chairman of the ONVIF communication committee. “We expect significant adoption by the end of the year.”

ONVIF and access control

Slower to be embraced has been ONVIF’s activities in the access control arena – including their Profile A. “It’s fair to say we have had more mind share on the video side than access control,” says Lewitt, who is Pelco’s Director of Technology Leadership. “We are rolling up our sleeves and making sure we understand the needs of the access control marketplace and the standards that need to be in place.”

"Cameras are the first IoT
devices, so there is a significant
role we can play by expanding
our expertise from video devices
to other devices in the IoT"

He says adoption of ONVIF profiles in access control has been slower because many access control manufacturers had already developed their own connectivity paradigms, and there is less integration of different systems in access control (compared to video). Still, Lewitt says IP-connected devices in access control communicate similarly to video devices, so there are parallels with ONVIF’s success in video. Profile A has not had its final release, but will come out as a ratified document in 2017. “There is more interest with some new entrants in the market, who can lead forward and catch up more quickly,” says Lewitt.

What does the future of ONVIF hold? Lewitt says the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) offers a focal point. “Cameras are the first IoT devices, so there is a significant role we can play by expanding our expertise from video devices to other devices in the IoT.” Specifically, the lessons ONVIF has learned about detection, discovery and configuration paradigms of IP cameras when developing Profile Q can easily translate to data-driven devices such as IP sensors, whether temperature, motion, or IR proximity sensors, or even traffic sensors. “If you follow a standard workflow to find all the devices on a system, you can simplify the implementation process, reduce errors, and allow people to focus on more complex solutions,” says Lewitt. IoT is also closely related to another sector ONVIF is targeting – safe cities.

ONVIF challenges

Lewitt identifies two challenges that ONVIF faces. One is continuing to maintain engagement from their membership base as they work on new problems and areas. “We need to be sure we communicate the value that members bring and get their buy-in. It’s a challenge for any standards body,” says Lewitt.

The second challenge is external: The need to communicate who ONVIF is, the value it brings to the market, and how it is working to keep pace with the changing dynamic of the physical security industry. ONVIF is an acronym for Open Network Video Interface Forum; the name was shortened as the scope of the organisation’s activities expanded.

ONVIF will also be watching the market more closely to identify new opportunities, says Lewitt. There is a new “Use Case Working Group” in the organisation, which will connect to customers and users of the ONVIF standards, looking for new scenarios that standards could address and in general to “provide better context to drive the solutions forward,” says Lewitt.

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