As physical security becomes more emeshed in the logical world on networks it becomes ever more imperative for the establishment of device, system and installation standards. This is an area that has been sorely lacking in the electronic security realm, and so it has justifiably been receiving more attention. Still, there remains much work to be done.
There are three organizations that have been spearheading this movement: the Security Industry Association (SIA); Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF); and Physical Security Interoperability Alliance (PSIA). We have written fairly extensively about all of them in the print and Web pages of SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. In this column, I am going to focus on PSIA since I recently attended a roundtable discussion the group help during the ASIS show in Orlando, Fla.
Founded in 2008, PSIA is a global consortium of more than 65 physical security manufacturers and systems integrators focused on promoting interoperability of IP-enabled security devices across all segments of the security industry. The organization promotes a systems-based approach to all security and facility management interoperability needs. More than 1,500 companies have registered for the PSIA-approved specification.
Moderated by James Connor, principal/CEO of N2N Secure, the standing-room-only ASIS session featured Mike Faddis, group manager for Microsoft Global Security; Bill Minear, senior consultant with TRUSYS; ; and Carlos Pinel, security systems program manager for Cisco Systems.
They provided perspective and how they have begun to think about standards, how they are important to their organizations, and how to drive their management and manufacturers to begin to adopt standards. Key points included: the real cost of a physical security system; integrating various security components; how to eliminate the rip-and-replace cycle; critical needs from the industry; and whether standards are going to resonate with manufacturers, integrators and end users alike.
Faddis cited the cloud computing phenomenon, a.k.a. security as a service (SaaS), as making standards a higher priority than ever, especially from his vantage point since this trend is happening faster than most anticipate. “That’s why standards like PSIA are so critical to provide roapmaps that enable interoperability,” he said. “Standards are mandatory to achieve cloud ubiquity.”
Minear, a security veteran of more than 30 years, expressed frustration with established industry suppliers moving too slowly or ignoring altogether the need to abandon proprietary offerings and thinking. “Manufacturers must standardize and go with open platforms or they will no succeed,” he promised. “It will be required of manufacturers, and end users are demanding it.”
The panel was in consensus on the concept of investing in openness today to realize higher profits down the line. “Physical security needs to follow Microsoft, Cisco and other IT world leaders,” said Connor. “Now is the time to be proactive rather than kicking and screaming. The security industry needs to push toward middle ground so as not to leave it up to those IT companies to do it without that input or involvement.”
The ultimate objective, according to Minear, is to be able “to interface any device or system without restriction.” Ironically, while PSIA promotes unification where standards are concerned the group apparently remains somewhat at odds with ONVIF despite both seeking similar results. When the question of unifying PSIA and ONVIF, which appears to have more traction overall in the marketplace, was raised the sentiment was it was unlikely to happen anytime soon.
For now, I urge you to become members of or at least closely follow these groups and participate where appropriate. Because standardization is a matter of when and not if.