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If you are planning to install a home security camera system, you have most probably encountered the term ONVIF compliant. Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) means the implementation of an open industry forum for the development of a global standard for the interface of IP-based physical security products. Devices such as video surveillance cameras are ONVIF compliant when it is interoperable with other security products that come from other manufacturers who subscribe to the same unified and open platform standards.
Brief Background of ONVIF
Before ONVIF was established and adopted by manufacturers of security cameras, each model produced by a manufacturer is matched with a technology protocol. Newer models and designs from the same manufacturer will likely have another set of protocols such that when you upgrade your system, your video management software (VMS) will not be able to communicate with the cameras unless you develop different drivers for each.
The problem is more difficult to manage when the video surveillance cameras come from one company and a different security company supplies the VMS.
ONVIF was established in 2008 by Sony Corporation, Bosch Security Systems, and Axis Communications as a non-profit organization. The organization currently has 34 full members and affiliates that work closely to develop global standards to promote compatibility between security cameras and VMS, while the number of user members and affiliates has grown to 454 companies.
ONVIF develops specifications that can turn into standards when these are officially adopted by standardization bodies or alternatively, when several manufacturers of these security devices implement these specifications.
How ONVIF develops and implements open standards
The specifications developed by ONVIF cover areas in the manufacture of security products that include device management, IP configuration, device discovery, video analytics, and other factors that contribute to the efficiency of these devices. The organization has implemented a system that classifies security products under various profiles.
The ONVIF profiles are the grouping of specifications that provide end users of security devices with the guarantee that these are interoperable.
Compliance with ONVIF means compliance with a specific ONVIF Profile. Manufacturers of video surveillance cameras must ensure that the devices they produce are Profile S compliant to guarantee interoperability with security devices from other manufacturers, which means that the various components of the security system will work well together even when these come from several sources.
Manufacturers who claim ONVIF compliance for their devices mean that these are compatible with clients who claim compliance with the same ONVIF Profile. To achieve this interoperability between devices and clients, the organization has developed and provided test specification tools and test tools to its member companies to test for conformance. Only devices, or clients, that meet the test requirements are declared ONVIF compliant. Thus, when you see the ONVIF Compliant stamp on a product, this means it is interoperable with other devices that are similarly classified.
Compliance with ONVIF is important because it allows you to integrate the operation of your security system, for example security cameras from one manufacturer with surveillance software coming from another source. It allows you the flexibility to mix and match devices without encountering issues about the compatibility of devices and VMS. Since there are currently more 3700 security products that are certified as ONVIF conformant and more are in the process of testing for conformance, your choice of components for your security system is almost unlimited.
Membership to ONVIF is open not only to manufacturers and to software developers, but to integrators of security systems, consultants, and end users who benefit from the continuing efforts of the organization to promote open standards for the security industry.
How You Benefit from ONVIF
Through its efforts in the standardization of communications between network video devices and the interoperability between network video products regardless of manufacturers, ONVIF has developed global standards that allow the VMS to integrate much more easily with security cameras even when you purchase these from multiple sources.
The interoperability of security products such as security cameras and NVRs provide integrators with wider choices that will better suit the needs of their clients. For end users, the flexibility in choosing from among the many brands of security devices and the freedom to mix the use of these products allow them to make the best choices according to price, design, and functionality.
The ONVIF standard is in the process of maturation to improve further the common protocols that allow the communication and compatibility of security devices such as IP cameras, NVRs (Network Video Recorders), VMS, and access control systems. The home security camera system you install will be easier to manage and upgrade and you will have more flexibility in mixing components from different manufacturers when you choose those that are ONVIF compliant.