OSDP access control spec delivers interoperability
Next steps include IP-based communication, new profiles
06 April, 2015
category: Contactless, Corporate, Financial, Government, Library, Smart Cards
By Joseph Gittens, Security Industry Association
In April, the Security Industry Association Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP) will be a key piece of the SIA InteropFest at ISC West 2015. OSDP has a long history as an access control specification. And the story has always been one of interoperability and new functionality.
Born out of a mission to simplify custom integrations between vendors of access control panels and peripheral devices, OSDP is now an ANSI-standards candidate. It is gaining popularity as a building block for next generation physical access control and is currently adding support for Internet Protocol-based (IP) communication and other enhancements.
The turn of the century was an interesting time for the security industry. Companies were looking for ways to remain current within the context of information technology convergence. In the area of access control, customers were demanding security solutions to be as feature-rich, secure and user-friendly as the applications on their PCs. They wanted capabilities such as message encryption between access control devices, event-based user feedback and the ability to leverage emerging smart card capabilities. But this proved difficult with the already over-extended security communications protocols – such as Weigand – readily available at the time.
Access control providers began teaming up to patch together engineering workarounds to meet customer requirements. While there were some extremely successful deployments, the engineering support and development necessary to provide these customized solutions proved a costly and unsustainable model. In search of a better way, Mercury Security and HID Global partnered to develop an open protocol to connect control panels with various peripheral devices while unlocking the potential of the increasing onboard computing resources within access control systems. The result was OSDP.
Assigned to SIA in 2012 in order to promote its openness and enable the specification to evolve with input from the entire industry, SIA OSDP has a number of advantages over other security protocols:
- It is a better communications approach – bidirectional, more secure, fewer wires, longer range and multi-drop
- It offers unlimited application enhancements – direct biometric support, smart card interface, authentication, Federal Information Processing Standards compliance and interactive terminal capabilities
- It is open. Any solutions provider, integrator or end user can not only build products that conform to the specification but can also participate and contribute to its advancement. The SIA Standards Committee is producing tools that help solutions providers develop and test new features in an OSDP environment.
About a dozen access control vendors have already released products that support SIA OSDP and many more are developing compliant products.
This growing support was on display a year ago at ISC West 2014 when seven vendors participated in an OSDP Interoperability Plugfest. Panel providers – Axis Communications, Mercury and Siemens – joined reader vendors Allegion, HID, Identiv and INID to demonstrate interoperability and different functional capabilities of their products when paired with different devices.
This event also marked the release of the SIA Open OSDP Test Tool, a free application designed for implementers to test OSDP conformance. The Open OSDP Tool has three modes and can act as an OSDP control panel, an OSDP peripheral device or as a message sniffer between two connected devices.