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ISJ Exclusive: Taking the industry into a new era

OSSA

International Security Journal speaks with Gijs van den Heuvel and Pieter van de Looveren, representatives of the Open Security and Safety Alliance (OSSA) to find out how the organisation aims to transform the security industry.

 What is the Open Security and Safety Alliance (OSSA)?

The Open Security & Safety Alliance (OSSA) is a collaboration of international companies that together are laying the groundwork for an open ecosystem needed for next-level security, safety, building automation and business intelligence solutions. Collectively we define a common approach to common challenges including product performance, easy aggregation of data, data security, privacy and operating systems raising the industry bar and reducing market fragmentation and friction. Closely related and in parallel, we strive for an industry that allows for brand-independent software development fuelling innovation. The initiative formed in reaction to the continued increase of the number of IoT devices, the skyrocketing amount of data and the limited use thereof and today’s fragmented market of security and safety solutions.

What are the aims and objectives of the organisation?

OSSA’s goal is to establish a brand that reassures end users, system integrators, architects, specifiers and other relevant market players that solutions certified by OSSA can be trusted, seamlessly integrated, deliver the right level of performance and allow for vendor-agnostic software innovations.

The vision of the Alliance is opening up the security and safety industry for market-wide, (brand) independent software applications – similar to how we all access/download/use applications between a virtual store and our smartphones and other digital devices.

To realise our vision and add new value for customers, the entire market needs to design and develop based on the same ground rules. This can only be achieved by creating a framework outlining a common technology stack for security and safety solutions including a standardised API and a commonly used operating system that is easy accessible for the majority of the industry – along with a common approach to enhance cybersecurity, privacy and to ensure the right levels of performance. This will enable players within and outside of the security and safety industry to together focus on advancing and developing new applications.

You are approaching your 1st anniversary, what have been the main successes achieved so far?

Already within its first year, OSSA member companies created the first common Technology Stack specification for video security devices (to be released shortly) and started defining the API (Application Programming Interface) specification – which is an integral part of the common Technology Stack. In the meantime, one of the Alliance members has started to create the common Operating System (OS) as specified in the common Technology Stack and IoT infrastructure consisting of a digital marketplace and software development environment. The digital marketplace allows system integrators and other relevant market players to easily access vendor-specific and vendor-agnostic software applications created by the marketplace. System integrators on behalf of their customers can simply add functionality to video security devices that are based on the common Technology Stack by purchasing apps and deploying them across device brands independently and all in one digital environment.

The software development environment allows app developers and other market players easy access to all devices of multiple vendors based on the common Technology Stack. This environment offers specifications, documentation, development tools and other services for all devices connected to the open ecosystem – enabling app developers to create dedicated or agnostic apps. After completion, app developers can offer their apps for sales via the common digital marketplace. This common approach promoted by OSSA of creating an open ecosystem consisting of multiple market players that develop devices, software, components and the IoT infrastructure that are based on or support the common Technology Stack, reduces friction when conceiving, deploying and maintaining security and safety devices, systems and settings and inspires innovation by opening the doors to a more attractive marketplace. It’s a marketplace that offers market players easy access to multiple devices and software solutions of different brands offering a wealth of data and capabilities to create new value for customers.

To recap, first-year achievements from OSSA include:

  • Documentation of a common Technology Stack including the definition of a common vendor-agnostic operating system (OS).
  • First description of a common market approach to data security and privacy.
  • Various OSSA members already realised their first prototype cameras based on the commonly defined Technology Stack and OS and showcased them at ISC West 2019, IFSEC 2019 and GSX 2019.
  • First prototype versions of the digital marketplace and software development environment including first commercial offerings of various app developers were realised and showcased at ISC West 2019, IFSEC 2019 and GSX 2019.

How can OSSA reduce friction?

Currently, security and safety solutions are fragmented and there are merely individual attempts to address common challenges our industry faces, such as cybersecurity, privacy protection, seamless integration across brands and brand-overarching innovation. The high number of proprietary solutions and systems makes the aggregation and practical use of data and integration of various devices complex and challenging.

Over the past year, experts from around the world joined OSSA to help create a framework outlining an open ecosystem that offers a common IoT infrastructure and devices, software solutions and services that are based on or support commonly defined Technology Stacks, market approaches and best practices. This allows individual market players to free-up time and resources to focus on innovation instead of individually focusing on tackling common challenges. It also becomes easier for various market players inside and outside the security and safety space to take advantage of tons of data being produced by the various security and safety solutions.

Who are the newest OSSA member companies?

Recently, we welcomed nearly a dozen new members to the OSSA roster, including AngelCam Inc., Delta Electronics, Design Automator, Greenbase Technology Corp., Hunt Electronic Co., IntelliVIX, LILIN, Trend Micro Inc., and Zhejiang Dahua Vision Technology Co. For a complete listing of OSSA members, visit here.

OSSA

What will OSSA members be displaying at GSX 2019?

OSSA will have a strong presence at GSX 2019 as nearly a dozen member companies exhibit across the show floor. Spokespeople will demonstrate the first prototype cameras based on OSSA’s commonly defined Technology Stack. In addition to product/solution milestones, OSSA will also observe its one-year anniversary from GSX 2019 – celebrating the rapid progress underway as competing and complementary institutions work together through the Alliance to reduce market fragmentation and friction while increasing interoperability, trust and new value creation.

Should integrators be concerned about the work of OSSA?

No, in fact, they are part of the fabric of OSSA and its overall outfit. The Alliance vision will benefit security and safety solutions for industry players, including integrators. An open ecosystem including a single platform for our space that brings together supply and demand and delivers a solid basis for innovation will provide a more reliable and stronger security and safety marketplace from which we can all grow and work – and it will especially free up integrators from many of the obstacles they work around today without this common groundwork in place. Integrators soon can work more efficiently and on less mundane tasks by being able to focus on the aspects of their business that really add value for their customers and open up new application possibilities within and beyond safety and security angles. And, by being involved with the Alliance, they have a front row seat in defining this new direction for the market. Integrators can also collaborate on many levels with other experts and visionaries to inspire and create higher value offerings for their client base by leveraging new, differentiating solutions and services spawned by multi-company efforts underway through the Alliance.

How will the organisation look in three years’ time?

Over upcoming years, OSSA’s goals include further growing our ecosystem of member companies and producing and driving the adoption of new standards and specifications for products and solutions in the security and safety market. The Alliance will provide guidance on interpretation of these standards and specifications to ensure a certain common denominator within our security and safety space – increasing market attractiveness, attracting new players and consequently fuelling innovation.

In early 2020, one of the OSSA members will launch the common digital marketplace and software development environment – taking the industry into a completely new era where apps are sold/downloaded onto cameras. Technologists and security professionals will relish in the newfound functionality afforded by this modern approach and as an industry we’ll all be able to more easily imagine, invent and gain value from interoperable security and safety systems that can be applied worldwide across systems, devices and time zones.

Another component on the Alliance’s roadmap is the setup of a certification program for hardware and software solutions. This effort will ensure offerings meet the agreed-upon standards, specifications, common approaches and best practices envisioned by OSSA to further enhance quality and trust within the market – ensuring peace of mind for system integrators, architects, specifiers and end-users.