Axis, Bosch, Sony team for standards

Result will ease interface of network video products, complements SIA
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Sunday, June 1, 2008

FAIRPORT, N.Y.--Bosch Security Systems, located here, was the first to announce a new alliance with Axis Communications and Sony to work on a standard for the interface of network video products. It is expected to comprise interfaces for specifications, such as video streaming, device discovery, intelligence metadata and other IP-surveillance integration points.

“We’ve obviously been following the CCTV market,” said Anne Insero, manager of public relations and media for Bosch Security Systems.

“We’ve been seeing it leaning toward IP solutions and listening to our customers about the things needed to integrate with other vendors. So now that we’re seeing the penetration becoming significant, we felt the time was right to work on something like this.”

The framework for the standard will be released at the Essen Security show in October of this year, and it is possible that products incorporating the standard will be available in the second half of 2009.

The three announcing participants represent three of the five largest camera makers in the world (Pelco and Panasonic are the others), but they say their alliance is an open one and they invite any manufacturer to participate in the standardization work.

“This is complementary to what SIA is doing,” said Fredrik Nilsson, general manager of the Americas for Axis and a board of directors member at SIA. “SIA is looking at what should be standardized. We are looking at how it should happen. So it’s very compatible.”

“We’re still working on setting up the forum,” said Insero, “but we want to make it easy for others to join. Once the forum is opened in Q4 of ’08, we’ll invite others to be part of the work. Right now the work of setting up the forum is still happening, so we’ll announce member criteria when that’s ready.”

Nilsson said this alliance is more than a year in the making and that Axis was a driving force behind it. “We really wanted this in place and have been thinking about it for quite a long time,” he said. Coming from the IT industry, Axis believes that standardization is vital to market growth, he continued. “We’re still talking about a relatively small piece of the market,” Nilsson said. “IP cameras are maybe 15 percent. We’re interested in the other 85 percent, not fighting over the 15 percent that’s already there.”

Another group, the Physical Security Interoperability Alliance, started earlier this year, has a broader objective: supporting interoperability of all devices in the physical security industry. David Bunzel of Santa Clara Consulting helped establish this group, which has more than 20 companies involved, representing manufacturers, distributors, and integrators. “The PSIA determined as its mission that it would not be a standards creation body,” said Bunzel via email, “but rather determine which areas could benefit from existing standards relating to interoperability and have groups form to work with appropriate standards bodies to extend this to support our industry’s needs. The PSIA is a neutral group that can arbitrate issues and also make sure that the various physical security systems work together. Camera vendors have recognized the importance of interoperability and they are working within the PSIA as well to assure their specifications are complementary to the industry’s needs. Issues like device discovery, command and control, and PTZ control have already been established by the PSIA as priorities for the industry.”

For example, the PSIA could make sure that the Axis/Bosch/Sony group is aware of and working with the analytics standard being created by the National Retail Foundation. Or make sure the video standards that are created work with the access control standards created by another body.

What all of this underscores, said Rob Hile, vice president of business development at Adesta, which is part of the PSIA consortium, and treasurer at SIA, is that “our industry is crying out for standards. If we don’t standardize, the telcom guys are going to overrun us ... Groups like PSIA and SIA are trying to lead the charge, but it’s like dragging elephants through a stream.”

“PSIA is just a grassroots group that wants to get behind something,” Hile continued. “We still have to work through SIA. Everybody thought initially we’d be another standards organization, but that’s not what we were doing. We’re just a group of industry leaders saying, ‘This is what we need, now let’s go find an organization to help us do it.’ SIA’s role is going to become even more important, but they’ll have to get quicker to market. OSIPS [SIA’s Open Systems Integration and Performance Standards] has taken two years to vet, we can’t wait that long.”

Nilsson said he applauds PSIA’s efforts and that this is only further evidence that the security industry is ready for industry-wide standards. He said it’s also important that any standard be a global one.

“There’s no way to do it otherwise,” he said. “We have a number of customers with global operations, and they need products that work everywhere. An American or European standard doesn’t fly anymore. Just look at NTSC and PAL and the expense that causes the end user.”

“We are a global company,” agreed Insero, “and we at Bosch specifically manufacture products on a global basis; we don’t just make a product for one market, so it’s important for us to pursue something that would apply to all markets.”

In the end, she said, this is driven by “making it easier for integrators, but also giving end users more flexibility.”