ONVIF Open House draws 93 visitors

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

WASHINGTON--Attendees to the first meeting of the Open Network Video Interface Forum were looking beyond the group’s initial goal - creating standards for video surveillance cameras from different manufacturers to talk to each other - to the promise of ONVIF’s fruits allowing the integration of surveillance video with lighting, access control, fire alarms, HVAC and other building systems.

Speakers at formal sessions during the Dec. 3 and 4 event here, and numerous attendees talking among themselves between presentations, said the standards could accelerate the market for surveillance video.

Jonas Andersson, ONVIF steering committee chairman and de-facto head of the organization, said the standards should significantly increase the market for network video over the last several years because the advent of compatible IP-based cameras should reduce network installation costs and open the possibilities of more flexibility for end users. Only 15 percent of cameras are currently on a network, according to Andersson, also director of global sales business development for Axis Communications.

On Nov. 26, ONVIF delivered its first standard, Specification 1.0. But, as with almost any tech product labeled 1.0, there are gaps. In the next six months, ONVIF expects to fill in the gaps with standards supporting playback, recording and enhanced Web security for camera transmissions and displays.
Despite the incomplete nature of the Nov. 26 standards, Andersson said they are sufficient to warrant manufacturers creating conforming hardware and software.

Representatives of Sony Corp. and Bosch, the co-founders of ONVIF along with Axis, said they expect to have their first cameras conforming to the guidelines on the market within a year. Andersson declined to speculate on a timetable for his firm.

Sony executive Kenichi “Ken” Ishibashi said he expects the standards will help his company gain new business from customers who will want to upgrade from analog to IP-enabled cameras.

“The standards will remove the anxiety to migrate to digital,” said Ishibashi.

The Sony exec added that the ability of the new cameras to piggyback on convergence will also help sales.

Another avenue for growth will be the likely increased willingness of Fortune 500 companies like Wal-Mart, Target and Lowe’s to get into network-based video. Some of these firms have been staying away from high-priced, sophisticated surveillance camera networks because of their refusal to buy products when they are limited to a single vendor, said Todd Zelinski, vice president of engineering for Agilent Companies.

Another executive at the conference said multi-nationals are sitting on their hands when it comes to buying network video because they have thought for years that compatible equipment was inevitable and wanted to wait to make major purchases until interoperable equipment came on the market.

During the meeting, ONVIF leaders said they haven’t decided what the cooperation will be between the organization and other groups such as SIA or the PSIA, that are developing related standards. A SIA staffer at the meeting said a term she hears bandied about is “coopetition.”

The ONVIF gathering attracted 93 visitors from 66 companies, 21 of which are members of ONVIF. Nearly 60 percent of the attendees were from overseas.