Frequently Asked Questions
- Profiles and Add-ons
- Products and Conformance
- Physical Access Control
- Open Source Development
How is ONVIF organized?
ONVIF, founded by Axis Communications, Bosch Security Systems, and Sony Corporation, is a non-profit organization that acts on behalf of members to facilitate the standardization of interfaces for effective interoperability of IP-based physical security products. ONVIF consists of a Steering Committee, Technical Committee, Technical Services Committee, and Communication Committee. General management and voting procedures follow established terms of reference for open standards initiatives and are defined in the Rules of Membership. The committees can establish working groups to accomplish tasks related to their work.
What are the roles and responsibilities of committees and working groups?
The work in ONVIF is driven and carried out by its members in various committees and working groups. The Steering Committee is responsible for the organization’s overall strategy and budget. The Technical Committee drives the development of the ONVIF core specification as well as the technical direction and roadmap. Working Groups under the TC include Core WG, Security WG, Physical Access WG, and Video Enhancement WG. The Technical Services Committee is responsible for the development of test specification, test tool, and conformance process. Working Groups under the TSC include: Device Testing WG, Client Testing WG, and Developers’ Plug Fest Task Force. The Communication Committee is responsible for the organization’s external and internal communication.
Currently how many members does ONVIF have?
ONVIF has a robust member base on six continents comprised of leading camera, video management system, and access control companies. Click here for a complete member list.
Who can join ONVIF and how do I become a member?
As an open forum, membership is available to all companies and organizations who wish to participate in the activities of ONVIF, e.g., device manufacturers, software vendors, integrators, consultants, and end users within the security industry. See Rules of Membership.
What membership levels are available? And what are the responsibilities and privileges when participating in the forum?
ONVIF offers five levels of membership: full, contributing, registered affiliate, user, and observer member, to accommodate individual choices of participation. Full or contributing members can actively influence the development of the standard by participating in the work of the forum. Registered affiliates are affiliates of full and contributing members and share many of the same privileges of their parent company’s membership. The user member level is open to organizations that wish to use the Network Interface Specification and have access to specification proposals but do not want to participate in any work of the forum. The observer member level is best suited for media, having access to conformance tools and the ONVIF logo. Technology and test tools will be made available to all ONVIF members to facilitate the development of conformant products.
What are the costs involved (membership fees) for participating?
ONVIF offers five levels of membership with costs attributed accordingly. Details of the costs involved are clarified in the Rules of Membership available for download. The purpose of the membership fees is to cover the administration costs related to the non-profit organization and other costs directly related to the organization.
Who can use the ONVIF logo?
Only ONVIF members have the right to use the ONVIF logo. The logo can be used to promote their membership and conformant products. The usage of the ONVIF logo must follow the logo guidelines provided by ONVIF. The ONVIF logo guidelines are available to all members here.
What are the resources available for members?
The Members’ Area of the website provides information relevant for ONVIF members. It includes information about the conformance process, the ONVIF Member Portal, using ONVIF logo and profile symbols, how you can participate in ONVIF activities through committee and working groups, and on GitHub and Wush, and getting information from ONVIF e-news and social media.
How do I know as an integrator if a device supports, for instance, the imaging services?
ONVIF requires a defined set of web services that are used by ONVIF devices and clients. Furthermore, some services are conditional, e.g., if a camera has PTZ functionality it is mandatory to provide that service in the ONVIF interface. Optional services are also defined. A product must report what services and capabilities it supports. In terms of development, it is quite straightforward since a software client can query an ONVIF device to provide a list of the services and capabilities it provides. For instance, the imaging service is an optional service and a Client can query the availability of the service on a device via the GetCapabilities method of the device management service. This means that the integrator can handle detection of what a product provides automatically in its software.
A certain brand-name network video device, which is ONVIF Profile S conformant, also supports other brand-specific functionalities. Will these functionalities work with ONVIF Profile S conformant clients?
Not necessarily. All ONVIF profiles have a defined set of functionalities that must be supported by a device and a client. Functionalities that are brand-specific to a product are not supported by ONVIF profiles. In the case above, the brand-specific functionalities will work only if the client also incorporates support for the product’s brand-specific functionalities. If this is the case, then the system can use both the ONVIF interface for functionalities defined by the ONVIF profile and the brand-name product’s interface for the brand-specific functionalities.
4. Profiles and Add-ons
What is an ONVIF profile?
An ONVIF profile has a fixed and comprehensive set of features that enable a functional product to be developed solely on the profile specification. A profile has mandatory as well as conditional features, which are features that should be implemented by an ONVIF conformant device or client if it supports that feature in any way, including any proprietary way. Specifications for profiles cannot be changed to ensure backward compatibility.
An overview of ONVIF profiles can be found here.
What is an ONVIF add-on?
An ONVIF add-on consists of at least one or more features that solve one use case. An add-on, by itself, is not comprehensive enough to qualify as a profile. Specifications for add-ons do not include optional requirements for devices/clients or conditional requirements for devices. To conform to an add-on, a product must also conform to an ONVIF profile.
What is the difference between an ONVIF profile and add-on?
While the features included in profiles cannot be changed, add-ons are easily adaptable to evolving technology/specification requirements. An add-on, unlike a profile, supports version handling and can be updated quickly to adjust for new technology additions or updates.
For more information, see profiles, add-ons and interface specifications.
5. Products and Conformance
How does ONVIF conformance work?
Conformance to a particular ONVIF profile is based on self-declaration by ONVIF members for their manufactured products, according to a conformance process (based on a test specification and a test tool). The conformance process specification and the test specification are available under Profiles & Specifications menu. The test tool is available for members only under the password-protected Member Portal. The scope of ONVIF is interface standardization of the network layer of IP security devices. Product development and roadmaps are in the hands of individual companies and are not in the scope of ONVIF. ONVIF lists conformant products.
How can I tell if a product is ONVIF conformant?
The only way to verify that a product has been declared to be ONVIF conformant (by ONVIF) is via the ONVIF conformant products page. ONVIF DOES NOT provide certificates of conformance or other guarantees of conformance. Products that have been verified to be ONVIF conformant via the ONVIF conformance process are able to utilize the appropriate Profile mark on that product.
Is it possible that two products that are ONVIF conformant will not work together?
The products should work together. However, a manufacturer might have chosen not to implement a certain optional function in a product. It is not enough that one product supports that optional function; so in such cases, the function cannot be used. It is also important to understand that the conformance process is a self-certification test done by the manufacturer, and not conducted by ONVIF. In the event that two products do not work together, it is quite probable that it is not the quality of the specification in itself that causes integration problems, but rather the product quality, i.e. the quality of the implementation of the specification. It is important to stress that the ONVIF specification does not make any claims about the quality of the products. The responsibility for making good quality implementations of ONVIF falls heavily on the manufacturers, and the market forces should take care of this over time. To minimize the risk for flaws in the specification, there are activities in ONVIF during the development of the specification where prototyping is done to ensure that the quality of the specification is good.
Why is there a need for standardization in IP-based physical security market and what is the benefit for customers and other manufacturers?
The overall goal is to make it even easier for end users, integrators, consultants, and manufacturers to take advantage of the possibilities offered by IP-based physical security solutions. A standardized interface for IP-based physical security products enables integrators and end users to easily integrate products from different vendors into a single solution. The standardization helps software vendors to secure that their products support various brands of IP-based physical security products. For device manufacturers, standardization ensures interoperability of products from different manufacturers.
An open standard within the IP-based physical security industry helps drive the convergence from analog to digital solutions, thus making the benefits of IP-based physical security products and solutions available to everyone. Read more about the benefits.
What do you mean by an “open standard”?
The specifications are approved by a formalized committee that is open to participation by all interested parties. The specifications will also support other industry standards in, for example, video compression, network streaming, and device discovery.
Does ONVIF cooperate with other international standardization bodies in the industry such as IEC & SIA, in order to avoid having several formats?
ONVIF has started open discussion with several international standardization organizations. On June 3, 2014, the Security Industry Association (SIA) and ONVIF signed a Memorandum of Understanding toward the further development of IP-based interoperability standards in access control. As part of the relationship, ONVIF will provide support to SIA & OSDP IP extension initiative, while SIA will provide education to its membership and industry stakeholders of Profile C and other ONVIF PACS (physical access control system) activities. Each group will appoint an official representative to liaise with the other group for the purposes of increased information sharing and collaboration. ONVIF has established liaisons with ISO JTC1 HEVC, also known as H.265 and IEC Technical Committee 79, Alarm and electronic security systems. ONVIF is currently referred to in the international standards IEC62676 Video Security Systems, IEC IEC62580-2 CCTV in trains, and in the ongoing work in IEC TC79 WG 11, Electronic access control systems which has produced a new International Electronic Access Control standard, IEC 60839.
7. Physical Access Control
As a physical access control company, why should I join ONVIF?
Joining ONVIF right now allows you to actively get involved in the development of the global open standard for the interface of IP-based physical security products. Being an ONVIF member gives access to specification proposals and the test tool, and also allows the use of the ONVIF logo to market conformant products. Full and contributing members can also actively influence the development of the standard as part of committees and working groups.
Why has ONVIF extended the scope to include physical access control systems?
ONVIF is a global and open industry forum that is committed to standardize communication between network devices and ensure interoperability between network products for the security market. In March 2010, ONVIF decided to extend the scope to include physical access control systems. The goal of the extension is to standardize communication between access control devices as well as to ensure interoperability between network video products and access control systems. Many companies, including several ONVIF members, see a great need for such a standard as it would bring benefits to system integrators, manufacturers, and end users alike:
- Increased flexibility for system integrators: integrated solutions can be built using products from different vendors
- Better market penetration for manufacturers by providing devices with standard IP interfaces
- Reduced integration costs and cost of ownership for end users
What are the objectives of having a standard for physical access control systems?
The objectives include:
- Provide an open communication standard for physical access control systems
- Ease direct integration of network video and network physical access control systems using the same open standard
- Simplify installation of combined video and physical access control systems
- IP door controller of different companies will become compatible to each other, as there is no established open standard today
- Ease integration of physical access control functionalities in network video devices. Video companies may extend the function of their products with basic physical access control functionalities by using the same open standard as for network video
What are the benefits of an open standard for physical access control systems?
The benefits include:
For system integrators:
- Use of the same open standard defined for network attached devices
- Easy and seamless integration of common functionalities (e.g., door controller is an additional device that can be found while doing a discovery on the network), through ease of installation. Integrated solutions can be built using products of different suppliers
- Extended market opportunities as access control products with standard IP interfaces can be used as a part of IP-based physical security solutions globally
For end users:
- The set of interoperable products will be extended. Open standards will reduce integration costs and cost of ownership
- Freedom to mix different devices from different suppliers because of the guaranteed interoperability
8. Open Source Development
When did ONVIF officially make the move to GitHub?
As of September 2020, ONVIF supports network interface specification development at https://github.com/onvif/specs.
What is the motivation for open sourcing network interface specification development? What are the benefits?
Open sourcing the development of ONVIF network interface specifications streamlines the administrative and collaborative process and allows ONVIF to leverage the talents of a wider community of developers, gain fresh input from organizations and individuals whom ONVIF has not reached before, spur greater feature interoperability and innovation, and provide new specifications faster to meet existing and future market demands.
Are there any criteria to participate in ONVIF network interface specification development on GitHub?
Anyone can contribute on GitHub and contributors will need to accept the ONVIF Contributor License and the Apache license conditions. The ONVIF Contributor License states that the contributing author grants ONVIF a non-exclusive, perpetual, non-remunerative, sub-licensable copyright license to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, and create derivative works of the Contribution solely for the purpose of producing and distributing the relevant ONVIF Network Interface Specification(s). The Apache license ensures that contributions can be jointly developed and that the contributor grants a patent license.
How does having ONVIF network interface specification development on GitHub improve the development process? How does this impact or compare with the old ONVIF process?
Open source development is a trend that has proven to be successful and makes specification contributions easier and more efficient. ONVIF schema files and related documents are accessible on GitHub. Anyone may copy and distribute the files, make/propose changes to copies of the files and submit the change requests to ONVIF. Once proposed changes are accepted/approved by the ONVIF Technical Committee, GitHub automatically merges the changes to a development branch. This eliminates the need for a dedicated editor to update network interface specification files. And once clearance is achieved following an IPR review, the new development branch is integrated into the master file. Enabling development on GitHub eliminates manual handling of change requests currently done through a ticket system. ONVIF moved from Word-based documentation to DocBook for easy maintenance and merging of specifications.
What impact does this have on the ONVIF conformance process?
Open source development of ONVIF network interface specifications has no impact on the ONVIF product conformance process, nor anything to do with profile or test tool development. The addition of open source development affects only one aspect of the work of ONVIF, and that is the establishment of standard network interface specifications for IP-based physical security products.
Will non-members have access to ONVIF test tools?
Only ONVIF members have access to ONVIF test tools for verifying that products conform to certain ONVIF profiles.