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It is not uncommon for an HD surveillance system to contain cameras from one company and a video management software (VMS) from another. But there is nothing worse than setting up your HD surveillance system, only to find out that the cameras and VMS won’t work properly with each other.
This is where ONVIF comes in. ONVIF is probably a term that you’ve read or heard about as it relates to camera and VMS compatibility but you may not have a complete understanding to what it is exactly. Here are 7 FAQs to help you get to know ONVIF.
What is ONVIF?
ONVIF stands for Open Network Video Interface Forum and was founded in 2008 by Axis Communications, Bosch Security Systems, and Sony Corporation.
According ONVIF.org, it’s an open industry forum for the development of a global standard for the interface of IP-based physical security products, such as communication between video management systems and devices (i.e. cameras and encoders) as well as access control systems.
In the past, when a camera manufacturer would release a new camera, it would develop a new technology protocol to go with it. If the same manufacturer were to develop another new camera line, another set of new protocols would need to be created - and so on and so forth. Making the matter even more complicated, if you want the VMS you’re using to talk to those cameras, you would have to develop separate drivers for each protocol API. ONVIF allows the VMS to integrate with cameras from multiple different manufacturers much more easily.
The three core tenets of ONVIF are about interoperability between network video products, regardless of manufacturer; standardization of communication between network video devices; and be open to all companies and organizations.
What is in the ONVIF Standard?
The ONVIF Specifications covers things like IP configuration; device discovery; device management; PTZ camera control; and video analytics.
Working in parallel are ONVIF Profiles. Profile C is for IP-based access control; Profile G is for edge storage and retrieval; and Profile S is for IP-based video systems.
The Avigilon HD Camera, Bullet, Dome, Micro Dome, and PTZ camera series all rely on ONVIF communication protocols, including Profile S, to communicate with the Avigilon Control Center system.
Avigilon Control Center uses ONVIF Profile S specifications to support a wide range of 3rd party cameras with features such as video streaming in H.264, MJPEG, and MPEG4 when supported; configuration of the video stream and the device IP; support for audio input; support for digital outputs; record on motion (as defined in ONVIF 2.2 and later specifications, but not part of Profile S); and control of PTZ.
Do You Have to be ONVIF Compliant and Profile S Compliant?
It is not possible to be ONVIF compliant only; you need to be compliant to a Profile as well. You can be ONVIF conformant only, but if you are it is not guaranteed that you would get interoperability between other ONVIF devices and clients. To truly reap the benefits of ONVIF, you need to be Profile S compliant as it dramatically increases the chance of things like video and audio streaming or video configuration and multicast actually working well together.
What Does it Mean to be ONVIF Compliant?
It means that you will have the confidence that your product, be it client or device, will work with other products certified at the same level. For example, a Profile S device can be expected to work with a Profile S client.
To help with that, ONVIF provides a test specification tool and a test tool to its members. The test tools and procedures are used in order to declare compliancy with an ONVIF Profile. Once all requirements are met in the conformance process, members can declare they are ONVIF Compliant. Members can get compliant within a week after completing testing and submitting their application to ONVIF. The testing process itself varies depending if issues are encountered or not during testing.
Currently, there are more than 3700 ONVIF conformant products out on the market.
What is ONVIF Based on?
From ONVIF.org, it is based on Web Services for the interface and guarantees interoperability. ONVIF also uses other well-established standards like RTP/RTSP for streaming, motion detection and audio; and H.264 for compression standards.
Why is ONVIF Important?
An open standard like ONVIF makes it easier to integrate surveillance software like Avigilon’s Control Center with third-party cameras or third-party surveillance software to integrate with Avigilon cameras. It is one protocol for everything and is backwards compatible. So there is no need for engineering to develop a driver for a custom API. The end result is ONVIF prevents buyer lock-in. You can be on an end-to-end Avigilon system or you can mix and match your environment and not lose out on your current surveillance investment.
Who is ONVIF Compliant?
ONVIF membership is open to manufacturers, software developers, consultants, system integrators, end-users and other interest groups that wish to participate in the activities of ONVIF. Avigilon joined ONVIF in 2009 with the first set of ONVIF compliant cameras coming out in 2010. Avigilon is one of 500 current members of ONVIF.
It is up to members to self-declare their products as compliant to ONVIF. For a list of ONVIF compliant devices, including Avigilon products and network video transmitter (NVT) devices, see: http://www.onvif.org/FindaProduct/ProfileProducts.aspx.