The mission of ONVIF hasn’t changed much since it began with a small group of manufacturers in 2008, but the security industry and use cases have certainly evolved, and ONVIF along with it. Today, more than 20,000 IP security products are conformant to ONVIF profiles, offered by a membership of more than 500 manufacturers. Additionally, ONVIF specifications for video and access control have been adopted by the International Electrical Commission (IEC), one of the world’s most influential standards organizations. However, like other standards, ONVIF has evolved incrementally and so has its development, use and acceptance. Over time, and as the security industry has seen continued growth, ONVIF has expanded its scope of interoperability specifications to meet market demand.
Starting with a solid foundation
Standards organizations are often initially founded to create a specific kind of benchmark within an industry. ONVIF was founded by Axis, Sony and Bosch to create a global standard for the interface of network cameras and video management systems to help facilitate the burgeoning IP video market and to offer an alternative to the heavily proprietary CCTV industry. The organization sought to provide a greater freedom of choice so installers and end users could select interoperable products from a variety of different vendors. ONVIF founders also hoped to simplify product development for manufacturers by establishing a basic interface standard, enabling developers to devote resources to product and technology innovation rather than creating multiple APIs for simple integration between products.
The foundation of interoperability with ONVIF lies in its different profiles. The profile concept defines groups of individual features and implementation specifics under one umbrella. First up was Profile S – released in 2011 after two years in development. In 2010, ONVIF extended its scope to include the integration of video and access control and. ONVIF has continued to use the Profile concept to develop and release six additional profiles – including Profile G for video recording and storage; Profile C for physical access control; Profile Q for improved out-of-the-box functionality; Profile A for broader access control configuration; Profile T for advanced video streaming – and two Release Candidates, Profile D for access control peripherals and Profile M for metadata and analytics for smart applications.
The importance of collaboration between standards
Standards bodies and the standards they create cannot operate independently. ONVIF has incorporated into its specifications a number of accepted networking standards, such as HTML, XML, IPv6, SOAP and Web Services to create a common language for security devices and systems to communicate with one another. Leveraging these existing standards has enabled ONVIF to harness the collective development power of these other standardization bodies – all working to continually improve individual protocols to benefit the industry at large. ONVIF has also embraced open-source development on the GitHub platform, streamlining specification development and inviting the industry at large to participate in ongoing improvements to ONVIF interoperability specifications.
As the demand for interoperability increases and the Internet of Things (IoT) expands – demanding more collaboration and cooperation, ONVIF will continue to work towards providing interoperability standards as the market continues to evolve.