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Editor, Security Middle East magazine

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Claire Mahoney has been a journalist for over 20 years in industries including healthcare, print, and publishing. She has been behind the launch and re-branding of a number of international business magazines. She has been editor of Security Middle East Magazine (www.securitymiddleeastmagazine.com) for the last seven years. The magazine is now the leading English language security title in the Middle East. She also co-runs a successful design and editorial agency, which offers a wide range of editorial, design, and print services to international clients.
July 10, 2015


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‘ONVIF Compliant’: How Such Claims Aren’t Always True

The credibility of any brand is critical to its success and no more so than when that brand represents the security industry like ONVIF.

Displaying the ONVIF logo tells end users that your products will interface with others across an IP network. It means that you will have undergone a test specification and a test tool.

Last year, however, the organisation announced that it was having to introduce an enforcement campaign to make sure that all manufacturers claiming ONVIF-compliance were actually valid, as it had come to light that some companies were using the ONVIF logo without having gone through the correct procedures.

Although false claims are not considered a huge issue for the security industry, this announcement did raise a red flag. I spoke to ONVIF about whether, six months on, the campaign has resulted in better understanding and less misrepresentation of the brand.

“Every industry has its fair share of ‘false claims’ being made, whether it’s inflated technical specifications on a product data sheet or false compatibility claims between products,” says Stuart Rawling, chairman, ONVIF Communication Committee. “Like many organisations, we take the protection of our trademarks and brand very seriously, and we recognise that the credibility of the ONVIF brand is crucial to the success of the standard and the organisation going forward.”

Rawling doesn’t believe that security manufacturers were deliberating intending to mislead people and most brand misrepresentations were down to a lack of understanding and information.

One area of confusion is the rebranding of OEM products. ONVIF certifications on OEM products are not transferable, so members who use an OEM product which already has a claim of conformance must retest and submit new documentation to show valid conformance before it can be marketed as ONVIF-compliant.

In other cases ONVIF has had to follow up with manufacturers who decided to leave ONVIF but are still using the ONVIF logo on their data sheets and marketing.

New membership level

ONVIF has tackled the issue in a number of ways. First, with the introduction of a new membership level: ‘observer member’. This allows the specifier and/or end user to independently verify a product’s conformance in the same way they would, for example, field test the true resolution of a camera in low light.

There are currently four membership levels at ONVIF, of which full member is the highest. Next comes contributing member, then user member and finally observer member. The different levels reflect the level of influence and involvement an organisation or manufacturer wields in developing the standards.

The new observer level membership, however, aims to open up the organisation to those who may not want to get involved in developing standards but still have an active interest in checking compliance. They can, for example, access the network interface specification test tools and, most importantly, easily check compliance claims.

From an organisational point of view its been of great benefit in helping clean up any false claims or misuse of trademarks. Since introducing it, Rawling says ONVIF has seen an increase in the reporting of such issues.

“We are encouraged by this feedback as it reinforces to us that the market does very much see the value of standards and in ONVIF in particular and the industry is taking an active role in helping to ensure the integrity of the ONVIF approach.”

With more than 4,000 conformant products and 500 members ONVIF is now the largest organisation of its kind in the world. Since it was founded in 2008 if has seen membership grown by between 24-50% each year. In the last three years the number of conformant products has soared by 250%.

These figures demonstrate that ONVIF has a very valid role to play within the industry and, in many ways, the fact that some manufacturers are trying to dodge costs and hassle through false claim, makes the organisation something of a victim of its own success.

With a new profile release candidate now out for review, the ONVIF momentum continues apace. Profile Q, which is expected to be available at some point this year, tackles out-of-the-box functionality and the configuration of security systems. The next six months will give manufacturers and end users a chance to see which products will be conformant.

“If there has been a lesson in this,” says Rawling, “I would say it is that we’ve been reminded that education on our existing policies and procedures must always be ongoing to the many different constituent groups that ONVIF serves in the market.”

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July 10, 2015 3:01 pm

“First, with the introduction of a new membership level: ‘observer member’. This allows the specifier and/or end user to independently verify a product’s conformance in the same way they would, for example, field test the true resolution of a camera in low light.”

As a former observer member who has done the only public test of their conformance tool, I can tell you this is factually false. The tool has so many issues in setup and use that the test fails repeatedly, even for cameras that are officially ONVIF conformant.