Bi-Directional Communication at the Heart of New Protocol
Physical security systems run on state-of-the-art hardware and software infrastructure. Increasingly the industry is turning to cloud application solutions, and identity databases are being hosted on virtualized servers. With all of this technological momentum, it makes little sense that for communication between readers and panels we are largely still reliant on an interface that hit mainstream application in the 1980s. The Wiegand access control standard has served the industry well, and for simple access control demands it still may be the most cost-effective solution; but as the industry moves forward, communications between peripheral devices and the security controller must be modernized. With OSDP, SIA’s Access Control & Identity Standards Subcommittee has taken the first step toward ensuring that we’re not using a pay phone in a mobile world.
On October 1, SIA released the Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP). The specification, which is available through the SIA website, is a communication protocol for interfacing peripheral devices, such as card readers, to control panels or other access management systems. OSDP provides the industry with a sophisticated solution that adds security and value with features such as bi-directional communication.
A two-way channel paves the way for advanced security applications such as the handling of smart card technology, PKI, and NFC-enabled mobile device access. Constant bi-directional communication also allows for automatic monitoring of tampering and error handling, increasing protection at the edge. Users can receive customized messages at the point of entry, and the user interface experience is no longer just “access granted” or “access denied.” If necessary, the cardholder can be told if her card is expired or if she is not authorized for access at the given time.
Part of the beauty of the specification is that it is, in fact, not new. Numerous manufacturers have implemented earlier iterations of OSDP in their security products for the last few years. There is a known need for the specification and already a base of practitioners that have made use of it. The specification was originally developed by HID Global and Mercury Security Corporation with some more recent contribution from Codebench Inc.
Earlier this year, the rights to OSDP were assigned to SIA in an effort by the contributors to ensure that the specification was made available for wide industry review and eventual standardization. This project found a home within the SIA Standards Access Control & Identity Subcommittee, one of the groups of the SIA Standards Committee. The Subcommittee, composed of a number of industry representatives, manufacturers, integrators and end-users, reviewed the specification for this initial release and will convene a working group that will ready the specification for ANSI standardization after a wider public review. The current released version, V2.1.5, builds on the RS-485 serial interface that already has been adopted by numerous manufacturers. The working group plans to expand the specification to support IP communications, furthering the usefulness of the protocol for next-generation applications.
“This is an important milestone,” said Steve Van Till, SIA Standards chairman and CEO of Brivo Sytems. “OSDP fills a glaring need within the industry and this release demonstrates that SIA Standards is actively doing its part to enable secure and trusted identity solutions. The addition of IP support is the next crucial step.”
The specification will be able to be purchased inexpensively through SIA. Future versions of it will incorporate practitioner comments and noted best practices, and the subcommittee has plans to launch an online practitioner forum for the protocol. The practitioner forum will be a place for those organizations looking to embrace the specification to learn what others are doing to extend its capabilities to the ever-changing demands of the industry. Dave Adams, Access Control & Identity Subcommittee co-Chair, and senior product marketing manager at HID Global, said, “OSDP has room to grow and we want to invite those that utilize the specification to provide feedback and custom extensions. Industry practitioner interactivity is what can make a great spec an excellent spec.”