In 2014, ONVIF brought out the final release of Profile C, which enables interoperability between different manufactures devices of physical access control systems (PACS) and network-based video systems. This was an important step towards extending the ONVIF specifications into physical access control. Through the availability of the Profile C Test Tool manufacturers are able to introduce Profile C conformant products to the market.
Baldvin Gislason Bern, Chairman of ONVIF’s Profile C Working Group, said: “Integration between IP-based physical access control systems and video surveillance is no longer considered a luxury in today’s market, and is becoming a necessary component for many different types of users. With Profile C, users and specifiers will be able to integrate the Profile C products of their choosing without relying on existing integrations between manufacturers.”
When combined with other Profiles such as Profile S for video and audio streaming, users can also group together related access control and video devices using a configurable discovery scope. Profile C and Profile S also share the same device management features such as network configuration and system settings. HOWEVER, Some three years later Profile C has only one conformant device from Axis Communications AB.
The final release of ONVIF Profile A was announced in July 2017. The release marks the first open specification that enables the mixing and matching of access control devices and clients within a system, which will subsequently facilitate greater interoperability for multi-vendor projects.
“Profile A is a significant development for the market because it provides a pathway for integrating together access control panels and hardware with management software from different manufacturers,” said Per Björkdahl, ONVIF Steering Committee Chair. “This pathway for integration also provides future-proofing of an access control system, as it allows another manufacturer’s access control management software to be installed in the future, eliminating the need for a hardware ‘rip and replace’ scenario.”
Despite the fact that Profile A can allow ONVIF conformant components of different brands to interact with one another through a standardized way it will need additional integrations to be developed to support important system functions. For example, management software may provide custom alarm events not supported by the chosen door hardware. This could hold back the introduction of ONVIF.
The access control market has a long history of using proprietary protocols and hardware. Moving to open architecture means they will need to reengineer their products. Doing so will not necessarily bring about new functionality or guarantee the end user a better product. However end users are increasingly demanding open systems and this together with the newly released Profile A is the best solution to deliver open systems for the Access Control business.
They advised, "As a general rule, we infuse as many standards as possible in the product based on market demand and future-proofing. With that said, we are not getting feedback from our customers nor the user-base that this particular standard is important to them. We have many other initiatives that are currently a higher priority - including enhanced cyber-security features, and further development of our “app on board” framework. It is a future possibility with our AoB framework that a 3rd party will be able to provide ONVIF support, as well as, many other enhancements. This is an area we are continuing to enhance."
Well they would wouldn’t they! Mercury are one of three brands in the access control market that dominate the business, having a massive heritage market and in addition there are scores of smaller providers who have structured their product strategy around these companies bringing in more regular business for them. It would seem that “Open Systems” are more likely to be regarded as a threat and not an opportunity for most of the major suppliers in the short term.
For this reason the drive for ONVIF in the Access Control business is not likely to develop as fast as it has in Video Surveillance. In Video, it is the dominant standard and has been supported by the industry since its inception.
Ultimately the pressure of demand for open systems will not be denied. Access Control is not an island and will have to change. Demand for total integration and Internet of Things will eventually bring that about. However now that the final release of Profile A has been made we shall see how fast the manufacturers’ deliver conformant products. Hopefully it will be more successful than Profile C.
Today those that stand to gain the most from ONVIF for access control are the new players, and those companies who have yet to deeply penetrate the market. Expect Asian and particularly Chinese manufacturers to take interest in the development of ONVIF over the next few years.
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