Understanding the Benefits and Limits of XML For Security Systems

By John Honovich, Published on Feb 02, 2010

While APIs and XML are useful for integrating security systems, their value and ease of use are routinely over-stated. This is nicely demonstrated by a recent contributed piece by a manufacturer in SecurityInfoWatch [link no longer available]. The article boldly starts, "The days of security systems operating in splendid isolation from other organizational systems are over." The author explains that:

"Using the XML markup language for data exchange, integrators can, for example, connect an access control system to virtually any other information system that supports the HTTP protocol, regardless of underlying hardware, operating system, or programming languages."

This is, at best, only partially true. XML, by itself, does not ensure integration no more than using an alphabet ensures that you can read a foreign language (even if they both use the same alphabet).

A concrete example is PSIA and ONVIF - both groups use XML but they are totally incompatible. If you tried to connect a PSIA camera to a VMS supporting ONVIF, it would not work. The key problem is that they use different semantics. An example of this is saying "you" in English and "tu" in Spanish. They both use the same alphabet and refer to the same 'object' but the combination of letters have different meanings. 

Using XML but with different semantics is extremely common in the security industry. It's unlikely that any two XML based APIs from different manufacturers are compatible. To use a language analogy, it's like everyone uses the Latin alphabet but speaks in their own language. Even with XML, unless the 'language' is the same, you are forced to build a 'translator'.

The article concludes: "The days of security systems operating in isolation are over, and I think the dawn of an XML-API integration era is now in full swing."

XML usage is certainly in full swing. However, until we standardize the language and semantics of APIs (and not simply the alphabet) expect to see challenges, delays and costs in integration.

For background, review our overview of APIs and issues in using APIs.

Comments : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Open Access Controller Guide (Axis, HID, Isonas, Mercury) on Sep 19, 2019
In the access control market, there are many software platforms, but only a...
ProdataKey (PDK) Access Company Profile on Aug 09, 2019
Utah based ProdataKey touts low cost cloud access, wireless controllers, and...
Drain Wire For Access Control Reader Tutorial on Sep 23, 2020
An easy-to-miss cabling specification plays a key role in access control, yet...
Access Startup Multi-Mount Aims To Streamline Reader Installs on Dec 03, 2019
Startup Multi-Mount claims it makes installing access readers 'Fast',...
IP Camera Browser Support: Who's Broken / Who Works on Dec 10, 2019
For many years, IP cameras depended on ActiveX control, whose security flaws...
Free Online NFPA, IBC, and ADA Codes and Standards 2020 on Sep 03, 2020
Finding applicable codes for security work can be a costly task, with printed...
Security / Privacy Journalist Sam Pfeifle Interview on May 24, 2019
Sam Pfeifle is best known as the outspoken former Editor of Security Systems...
Avigilon Open Analytics Tested on Apr 16, 2020
After years of effectively closed analytics, Avigilon decided in late 2018 to...
Hikvision DS 2nd Gen Intercom Tested on Dec 12, 2019
With its newest IP intercom, Hikvision proclaims users can 'get full control...
100+ Companies Profile Directory on Nov 06, 2019
While IPVM covers the largest companies in the industry regularly (like Axis,...
Milestone Presents XProtect On AWS on May 04, 2020
Milestone presented its XProtect on AWS offering at the April 2020 IPVM New...
Emitted Energy TempScan Thermal Screening System Examined on Apr 28, 2020
Emitted Energy has specialized in temperature measurement using FLIR cameras...
ZK Teco Atlas Access Control Tested on Aug 20, 2019
Who needs access specialists? China-based ZKTeco claims its newest access...
Spectron IR Thermal Fever Screening System Examined on Apr 14, 2020
Most are quick to avoid "fever screening" and "medical" labels, but...
FaceFirst Problems And Layoff on Oct 01, 2020
FaceFirst, a US company and one of the oldest ongoing facial recognition...

Recent Reports

Panasonic Presents i-PRO Cameras and Video Analytics on Oct 19, 2020
Panasonic presented its i-PRO X-Series cameras and AI video analytics at the...
Augmented Reality (AR) Cameras From Hikvision and Dahua Examined on Oct 19, 2020
Hikvision, Dahua, and other China companies are marketing augmented reality...
18 TB Video Surveillance Drives (WD and Seagate) on Oct 19, 2020
Both Seagate and Western Digital recently announced 18TB hard drives...
Watrix Gait Recognition Profile on Oct 16, 2020
Watrix is the world's only gait recognition surveillance provider IPVM has...
Intel Presents Edge-to-Cloud Ecosystem for Video Analytics on Oct 16, 2020
Intel presented its processors and software toolkit for computer vision at...
Best Manufacturer Technical Support 2020 on Oct 16, 2020
5 manufacturers stood out as providing the best technical support to ~200...
Microsoft Azure Presents Live Video Analytics on Oct 15, 2020
Microsoft Azure presented its Live Video Analytics offering at the September...
Worst Manufacturer Technical Support 2020 on Oct 15, 2020
4 manufacturers stood out as providing the worst technical support to ~200...
Clorox Announces, Then Pulls, Fever Camera on Oct 15, 2020
For almost one week, Clorox was marketing fever cameras. The booming...
Faulty Hikvision Fever Cam Setup at Mexico City Basilica and Cathedral on Oct 14, 2020
Donated Hikvision fever cameras (claiming screening of 1,800 people/min. with...
Directory of 209 "Fever" Camera Suppliers on Oct 14, 2020
This directory provides a list of "Fever" scanning thermal camera providers...
Avigilon UMD / UAD Tested on Oct 14, 2020
Avigilon's Unusual Activity Detection and Unusual Motion Detection claim to...
Longse Promoting Hikvision Partner Fullhan Chip Based Cameras on Oct 14, 2020
With Huawei HiSilicon production being shut down at TSMC, camera...
Meridian & Goodview (BEMS Relabeller) Temperature Screening Tested on Oct 13, 2020
A lot of temperature tablets look exactly alike and that is because they use...
Monitoring Alarm Systems From Home - Innovation or Danger? on Oct 13, 2020
Remote monitoring by alarm companies since COVID-19 is bringing cost savings...