Urgency around standards increases at ASIS, Essen

Saturday, November 1, 2008

ATLANTA--At least two separate organizations working toward more robust standards in the IP video space used the ASIS International show here as an opportunity to meet and raise discussion. The Physical Security Interoperability Alliance met on the last day of the show to discuss the impact of the release here of its specification on network device discovery and to elect officers, while the Sony-Axis-Bosch standards alliance held a meet and greet on Sept. 16 to help announce the Open Network Video Interface Forum, which began sending out copies of its membership agreement Oct. 7, as part of the Security Essen show in Germany.

The PSIA released its first document here at the show, the IP Media Device API Specification.

“It’s version .9,” said David Bunzel, a managing director at the Santa Clara Consulting Group and an organizer of the PSIA, from its inception at the TechSec Solutions conference in Dallas, this past February. Based on work done by Cisco and then vetted by PSIA steering committee members, the document outlines specifications for device discovery, so that products, such as cameras and video surveillance software, made by manufacturers who follow the guidelines would all work together in a “plug-and-play” manner.

Bunzel encouraged anyone to look at the document and “join the party. Add to it, fix it, whatever.” You don’t need to be a member of the PSIA to download the document, but you do have to register with the PSIA Web site, www.psialliance.org. He said all references to Cisco have been stripped out of the specification and Cisco has not asked for any kind of compensation for its work.

Rob Hile, vice president of business development at integrator Adesta, has been named chairman of the PSIA, with Texas Instruments video security business manager Danny Petkevich elected as vice chairman and Genetec product manager Francis LaChance elected treasurer. In addition, companies as diverse as Honeywell and NICE Systems were added to the PSIA steering committee.

“We think the PSIA is really going to accomplish good things for the industry,” said Jeff Knapp, vice president of marketing at video management/PSIM software maker OnSSI. “They’re consistent with what we think provides value going forward. They’re not looking to be exclusive. They’re looking to be inclusive. They’re looking to facilitate integration throughout the market so everybody can focus on the added value they provide the customer.” Knapp said he liked that an integrator was tapped to head the organization and that the current membership represents “a great cross section” of the industry.

Knapp also noted that the PSIA’s work isn’t necessarily in his own best interest. “Establishing the standard kind of mitigates one of our selling points,” he said. “We interface with everybody already. But we feel good about our value proposition.”

The Open Network Video Interface Forum, of which Sony, Axis and Bosch are the three founding members, officially opened for membership at Security 2008, a trade show held in Essen, Germany, Oct. 7 through 10. Interested manufacturers, integrators and end users can learn more at www.onvif.org. It also has a tighter focus than the PSIA; ONVIF, at this point, is only talking about video interoperability standards. The PSIA will eventually tackle access control, intrusion and other pieces of the security marketplace.

Fredrik Nilsson, Axis general manager of the Americas, said that standards are important for the video marketplace because they will offer the end users and integrator great choice of products to use, and “the vendors developing these systems, they spend a lot of engineering time integrating cameras, so now they’ll be able to put that time toward developing features that the end user actually values.”

For now, industry members are taking a bit of a wait-and-see attitude toward ONVIF. “We’re interested in being a member,” said Michael Kaplinsky, “but I can’t comment on what I don’t know about. They haven’t put out their specification yet.”

Nor, said members of both ONVIF and PSIA, should the organizations be seen as at odds with one another, or with standards efforts by other bodies, such as SIA. “We want [ONVIF] involved with what we’re doing,” said Hile, the PSIA chairman.