“Something transformational will happen”

ONVIF’s Stuart Rawling on profile T, ONVIF at 10 and the future of security

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Adam Bannister is a contributor to IFSEC Global, having been in the role of Editor from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam also had stints as a journalist at cybersecurity publication, The Daily Swig, and as Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
August 13, 2018


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IFSEC Global caught up with Stuart Rawling, member of the ONVIF Steering Committee and director of segment marketing for Pelco by Schneider Electric, at IFSEC 2018.

In a wide-ranging interview Rawling discussed the latest, video streaming profile and reflected on the organisation’s achievements in its 10th anniversary year and how it might evolve to meet the needs of tomorrow’s security industry.

IFSEC Global: Tell us a bit about the latest ONVIF profile, Profile T…

Stuart Rawling: We published profile T, our next generation video streaming profile, at the start of the year. That’s in the release phase now, which means it’s available to the public, we’re continuing to test it and members can implement it when it’s finalised later this year.

It’s been seven years since Profile S, our streaming video profile, came out. Its mandatory streaming codec was MJPEG – seven years later that doesn’t make sense anymore. Profile T is more codec-agnostic as we want users to have multiple options. It supports H.265, and if any additional codecs come out we can include those as well.

IG: What else is ONVIF focused on right now?

SR: We’re starting to see a pickup in our two access control profiles. That’s an industry that’s beginning to embrace more of an open platform approach.

At IFSEC we’ve had lots of people come to our stand asking about Profile A and Profile C. Profile C covers IP-based access control for things like event and alarm management and door access control, and Profile A covers broader access control configuration, such as credentialing, schedules and access rules.

IG: What type of people tend to come to your IFSEC stand?

SR: Various people. You get some manufacturers. Big transportation agencies looking for something to standardise on. I spoke with someone from a company that does underwater cameras for fish farms who had some technical questions about using ONVIF.

IG: Has that aligned with the people you expected to see?

SR: I didn’t expect fish farmers! Video gets used in all sorts of ways.

But end users and government entities tend to be more common and more of what we expect.

We’re on the cusp of a fundamental change

IG: It’s interesting you met someone who supplies cameras for fish farms of all things. There’s a lot of non-security applications for network cameras and other security products and the conversations this year at IFSEC seem to reflect that…

SR: We’re on the cusp of a fundamental change – but I don’t know exactly what that will look like.

I have this picture from 1890 of New York City and it’s full of horses. At that time, the city had 100,000 horses generating 1,000 tonnes of manure and the number of people coming into the urban environment was accelerating with industrialisation.

They predicted that in 30 years’ time the streets of New York would be underneath several feet of manure. But 20 years later the automobile was invented and 30 years later almost all the horses were gone.

That shift in infrastructure from supporting horses meant the elimination of the farriers who shoed the animals, the stables where they lived and the people who cared for them. But it also meant opportunity for other jobs to support the early automobile – like mechanics, the city workers to build and maintain the roads, etc.

So today, what we do know is there are lots of things generating data and there’s a general desire for improving quality of life in urban environments. The camera is a data sensor and that data can be used for more than just surveillance and protection. Like you said, this isn’t just security anymore.

Something transformational is going to happen, and the next few years will be really exciting.

IG: It’s ONVIF’s 10th anniversary this year. If ONVIF had never happened, where might the industry be now? What difference has it made?

SR: I think there would be a lot fewer companies in the video space. The barriers to entry would be much higher. The availability of a best-in-breed approach would be much more restricted for users.

It would also have prevented major manufacturers from partnering and integrating with tiny start-ups with amazing technology that can provide real benefits to end users today.

It’s been a very positive thing for the industry and continues to be.

IG: The big players were involved in setting up ONVIF so it’s commendable that they helped up-and-coming companies…

SR: It does help [the big players] too though. From Pelco’s perspective we don’t have to invest in 20 small companies to support them and it gives our customers that flexibility and freedom of choice.

It has enabled every player, large and small.

Next I think we’ll solve how systems talk together and how that is impacted by changing threats

IG: So what can we expect from ONVIF over the next 10 years? Can you see it fulfilling the same role or is its purpose evolving?

SR: We’ve really solved the problem of how video devices talk to one another and now we have access control specifications with the same capabilities, along with very exciting intelligent building applications for the future.

I think what we’ll solve next is how systems talk together and how that is impacted by the changing threats in security.

IG: What about your employer, Pelco – any new products or developments?

SR: This year we’ve released a couple of new things. Our newest Esprit Enhanced camera, which is an iteration on the classic version. We’re also releasing a corner-mounted camera for prisons and other applications.

I think probably the most exciting thing for us is what we could do using cameras as a data sensor and coupling it with the new deep learning-type technologies. There’s two types of artificial intelligence. The artificial intelligence used for deep neural networks at the edge is no different to what we’ve had for years – it just generates a source of data.

Where the difference is going to come, and we’re going to see this all over the world, is where all that data gets brought together and some sort of analysis or prediction happens on that greater data set.

So we’re doing a lot of work on that – looking at big urban environments, traffic, stadium safety, mass movement of individuals and stuff like that.

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Jeff Johnson
Jeff Johnson
August 21, 2018 4:51 pm

What a difference 43 years makes! When I started out in the electronic security industry in 1975 there was no such thing as an addressable alarm system, CCTV was an extension of broadcast TV and nothing “spoke to” a CPU, even in the 80’s a decent CCTV camera could cost £2,000 so were not widely specified. I can remember working on one of the first GUI’s in 1985 with Mike Newton, analysing the RS232 printer output and writing a programme in BASIC to utilise the data. Today with most devices having an IP address, energy harvesting available to power wi-fi… Read more »