SIA Seeks to Strengthen Security Via Standards

Open any technology magazine or read any technology-centric blog and you can’t help but have empathy for businesses that must try to keep pace with the demands rapidly advancing technologies place on them.

The recent release of the Apple iPhone 5 is a good example. Prerelease rumors were confirmed when Near Field Communications (NFC) technology was absent from the iPhone 5. So, while security manufacturers are racing to create mobile physical security solutions that embrace NFC, one of the largest mobile device manufacturers chose, at least this time, not to include the technology in the latest version of its wildly popular smartphone.

Part of the issue boils down to standards. Apple apparently was not convinced that the standards backing NFC technology had enough traction to warrant including the NFC chipset in the iPhone 5 since few retailers have NFC scanners. The security industry must make similar assessments when launching new products and services.

The good news is that the Security Industry Association (SIA) is addressing these types of issues in the SIA Standards subcommittees. In October the SIA Access Control & Identity subcommittee released the SIA Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP) v2.1.5, a specification that allows for secure bidirectional communication between card readers and controllers. The subcommittee is now working on extending the specification to utilize IP connectivity, which truly opens the door for the next-generation physical security applications such as mobile access and provisioning.

The SIA Standards Digital Video Subcommittee is poised to release the Digital Video Quality Handbook before the end of 2012. This handbook will provide use cases and best practices for achieving video quality for various applications of video. The continuing goal is to standardize these guidelines to ensure emerging technologies such as high-megapixel HD cameras, advanced compression methods and specialized analytics techniques all deliver on the value they promise.

The SIA Standards Intrusion Subcommittee is in the process of revising the DC-09 Internet Protocol Event Reporting Standard. First released in 2007, DC-09 was the first attempt to standardize IP communication between a central station and protected premises. The 2012 version will include updated commands that allow a user to safely open barriers as well as arm and disarm an alarm panel, either from the central station or from a secure mobile device.

Perhaps the most forward-thinking group within SIA Standards when it comes to the subject of technology is the Cloud and Mobility Steering Group. This group, which plans to officially become an open SIA Subcommittee in 2013, is currently exploring the cloud and mobility landscape as it relates to the entire electronic physical security world.

The group will release a whitepaper defining a reference architecture that maps IT cloud concepts to those of physical and logical security and detail how applications such as access control, identity management, hosted video and mass notification are already being deployed via the cloud. The whitepaper will further explore the standards that govern cloud services in the IT world, bringing to the forefront those particularly relevant for physical security cloud services. It will provide awareness as to which standards still need to be defined in order for cloud services, burgeoning mobile technologies and physical security to work seamlessly.

The pace of technology can be blazingly fast. It is vitally important to realize that while technology enables many new and exciting things, standards around those technologies are what truly enable wide range growth of markets and customer satisfaction. SIA, through efforts in standards, is doing its part to ensure the security industry is moving in step with technology, and can deliver products that have wide utility, acceptance and grow our businesses.

Jay Hauhn, Chief Technology Officer at Tyco Integrated Security, has more than 30 years’ industry experience and is a member of SSI’s Hall of Fame.

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