PSIA to unveil first standard specification

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Monday, September 1, 2008

ATLANTA--Here at ASIS International, the Physical Security Interoperability Alliance, an organization formed earlier this year to address the lack of standards in the security industry, will release its first document for public consumption: the IP Media Device API specification.

Coinciding with the launch of its Web site at www.psialliance.org, the document outlines the method by which manufacturers can create edge devices that any software would be able to control, especially focused on cameras and encoders. There would be no need for a custom driver for each device, as long as both the device maker and the software maker agreed to abide by the proposed API specification.

“I think this is immensely important,” said Paul Bodell, chief marketing officer and co-founder of camera maker IQinVision, a contributor to the PSIA’s efforts. “This enables people to elect which features they want to take advantage of instead of having to stop the presses and call in an engineer.”

The document originated with Cisco, and Pete Jankowski, chief technical officer of the Physical Security Business Unit there, brought the document to the PSIA. “We’d been working on it for about nine months,” he said, “and then we figured the best thing to do would be to share it with a bunch of industry people, so we turned it over publicly-we’re not holding any rights to it-and working with the PSIA went really well. We got a lot of great feedback from the group, we’re on the third or fourth revision now, and we’ll have something to hand out at ASIS.”

Jankowski said most feedback from the group of integrators, manufacturers and distributors was intent on making sure vendors could incorporate anything different or proprietary they wanted, while remaining essentially interoperable. As long as anyone plays along, said Jankowski, “it allows a customer with a Panasonic, a Cisco, and an IQinVision camera to all be interoperable, so they don’t have to have [a software company] write a driver for every single camera.”

David Bunzel, managing director of the Santa Clara Consulting Group, coordinated the founding of the PSIA, which has had four formal meetings and had another scheduled for Sept. 4. He said the group originally saw itself as a recommending body, working with standards bodies on what was imminently needed or what should be adopted. But “then we had this spec dropped in our lap and were asked to vet it ... We found ourselves well suited to do that, and this document could ultimately be an industry specification.”

In the future, he said, “we’re clearly going to ally ourselves with groups working on standards that will support our efforts.”

Further, the document, once released, remains “a living document,” said Jankowski. “It really focuses on the cameras and encoders. Now we need to start focusing on the decoders, the NVRs-it will expand a lot. And then we’ll need to get analytics to marry up with that.”

Bodell predicted that “there’s always going to be people that resist” an industry specification such as this one, “but having a player like Cisco help drive this is important. They’ve really built the LAN and WAN environment, and people will say, ‘Do I really want to argue with Cisco?’”