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The Open Security & Safety Alliance (OSSA): working on data-driven transformations

The Open Security & Safety Alliance (OSSA): working on data-driven transformations SSN discusses collaboration and technology dissemination exclusively with Gijs van den Heuvel, Chair of Marketing at OSSA

The Open Security & Safety Alliance (OSSA): working on data-driven transformations

SAN RAMON, Calif.—The Open Security & Safety Alliance (OSSA) is an industry body comprised of stakeholders from all facets within the security, safety and building automation space.

With a mindset focused on collaborative efforts, OSSA brings together like-minded organizations in order to create a framework providing standards and specifications for common components including an operating system, IoT infrastructure, collective approach for data security and privacy, and a drive for improved levels of performance for security and safety solutions. This helps the market and parties involved to focus on the aspects that really add value for their customers and open up new application possibilities, even beyond security and safety. 

In this exclusive interview, Gijs van den Heuvel, Chair of Marketing at OSSA and Manager Strategy and Partner Collaboration at Bosch Security Systems, talks about what OSSA has accomplished over the last couple of years, initiatives/specifications that the Alliance has outlined for 2022, and why organizations in the security and safety space should consider joining the Alliance.

SSN: Please provide a brief overview of what the Open Security & Safety Alliance has achieved to date to orchestrate a more open security industry to all.

van den Heuvel: Our 30-plus member organizations have been working side-by-side since 2018 to lay the foundation for this open and data-driven organization. The basic foundation has been put in place, and progressive member companies are already tapping into the possibilities that were created through the work of OSSA.

Our first “product” was the OSSA common Technology Stack for video-sensing devices, which outlines how a technology landscape might look like when we allow third-party software and (video) analytics applications to run on vendor-agnostic video-sensing devices, and the supporting IoT infrastructure needed to establish this open ecosystem.

We also delivered the first OSSA technology specifications that collectively made it technologically possible to run third-party software agnostically on products. These products already exist and can be recognized by the “Driven by OSSA” seal: to date, there are more than 15 of these video-sensing devices. They all run the hardware-agnostic operating system (OS) by OSSA member Azena that connects with their online Analytics App Store (the world’s biggest for video-sensing devices), where users can select and download from 100-plus apps, many of which involve sophisticated AI algorithms, all in line with the OSSA Application Interface Specification.

So as someone who has been here from the beginning, having conversations about creating an Alliance to make open-platform principles and philosophies a reality – it’s truly tremendous what, in three short years, businesses and big brands from all over the world can accomplish when working alongside each other on the same objectives.

SSN: What is the most common issue that member companies are currently trying to solve in order to enable further innovation?

van den Heuvel: The collaboration model which allows us to run third-party software on devices in an agnostic way is just the first step. Together with OSSA member companies that include system integrators, we are working on new models that allow us to further disseminate the value that comes from this first step. We want to continue to unlock and streamline the most valuable outputs: the data flow.

In other words, first we have realized specifications that allow cross-collaboration by theoretically splitting hardware and software development. This has been done to “open up” new and very specific types of (video) analytics software applications that can now serve as an addition to the factory analytics as provided by device manufacturers.

Our next step through OSSA is to enable different stakeholders to unify consumption and interpretation of the data flowing from this new model. This is again something that cannot be achieved by one single company, but instead a requirement to work collaboratively.

SSN: How do you see this unfolding over the next year or so?

van den Heuvel: We’ll continue to see next-level dissemination of technology, both new and existing. The data flows are extremely valuable – but only if they can be interpreted and consumed (i.e., picked-up) by other devices. And we need to think about agreements and requirements around increased accessibility to this rich data flow. An open data-driven ecosystem as foreseen by OSSA allows “things” to interoperate and (soon) establish really meaningful connections. Think about what’s sensed versus what’s seen via cameras and other video-sensing devices.

OSSA is already working on a set of generic (vendor-independent) Data Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for a uniform yet abstracted representation of objects of interest. The goal is twofold: First, we want to uniformly identify “things” by means of video analytics, but also want to aggregate this information from various applications to enable the descriptive relationships between those “things.”

For example, being able to connect the dots between what a camera senses on one side of the building to what it captures minutes later inside the building using different but interoperable analytics apps and hardware. Is there cause for concern? How do these instances tie together? Is a gun detected, and if so, is it in or out of a holster? Does the system need to elevate this occurrence and flag alarm? How should the system communicate about this with other IoT applications, such as access control? It’s motivating to think about what predictive analysis inventions can be built out from this foundation and vision that’s been put in play by the industry through OSSA.

SSN: What other initiatives/specifications does OSSA have underway for 2022?

van den Heuvel: In addition to the mentioned OSSA Data APIs, the Alliance has many other active work groups, one of which is focused on creating a test methodology for devices based on a conformance specification. This serves as input for a future hardware Certification Model to complement the “Driven by OSSA” mark. This forthcoming certification and testing effort will guide compatibility of the OSSA standards to ensure basic hardware uniformity and quality across all Alliance work.

In addition, members are also looking beyond video IP security and safety for an extended approach to adjacent areas within the broader IoT universe. This involves our Beyond Video IP work group that’s identifying and tapping into neighboring domains so that next-level solutions such as Digital Twins (i.e., the real-time digital counterpart of a physical object or process) can be facilitated more easily in the future.

SSN: Why is now the time to get involved in OSSA and be part of evolving the industry’s Open Data-Driven Ecosystem?

van den Heuvel: Both the collaboration framework and technology are here – in place and ready for use. There’s a productive, global venue for collaboration in OSSA. The door is open, and we cordially invite other stakeholders wanting to get involved – in a small or significant capacity – to work alongside us to landscape our joint future. Together, we are determining how to bring new levels of intelligence to all we do.

We’re enabling our products and applications to interoperate with others to deliver next-level interpretations of knowledge funneled from various systems for a more fluid picture of what’s taking place around us. Unifying data interpretation and therewith elevating its worth is the future we are designing together – and this disruption can only happen through an open, data-driven ecosystem. We have an incredible assembly of international professionals gathering through OSSA to steer important next steps.

You can read our Member Perspectives here and hopefully get inspired to get involved as we continue to collaborate to reach new heights. Or, find our many OSSA spokespeople and member organizations at ISC West 2022, proudly promoting their “Driven by OSSA” video-sensing products.



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