Special Homeland Security Section: OSIPS Project Is Pivotal to Development of Technology Standards,

Consumers of all types of products are increasingly depending on open, public, consensus-based standards to specify product capabilities as a part of an acquisition process. 

The Security Industry Association (SIA) recognized the need to support this movement more than five years ago with the initiation of its Open, System Integration and Performance Standards (OSIPS) Project. The project is directed at developing standards for security and related technology that meets the requirements for openness, public consensus support and measurable evaluation criteria needed for effective national standards.

The greatest benefit of OSIPS to product consumers is delivered when the consumer takes an active role in establishing the definition of capabilities and performances defined in standards. This participation is the motivation for manufacturers to respond with the products that will meet consumer needs. 

Suppliers Heed Consumer Desires
Participants in the development of standards are learning to listen and respond to participating consumer desires. These formalized desires articulated as standards define and quantify markets for manufacturers. Where large groups of consumers that define very large markets are involved, such as the federal government, manufacturers listen carefully. 

“Manufacturers and other product and service suppliers have learned that this is one of the most effective and low cost means of obtaining actionable market information,” says Hunter Knight, chairman of SIA’s standards program. “Building product and service offerings for well established, interested user constituencies is a lot more productive than creating such markets.”

The SIA Government Summit and government end users will hold a joint session focusing on Standards and Procurement. The government, a very large community of users, plays many roles related to standards. The government is the largest and a very capable user of security products. The government may be considered an end user consumer, a specifier of required components and component capabilities, a certifier of component quality and performance, as well as a regulator of acceptable products. 

As users, the government has the opportunity through standards to clear barriers to interoperability and substitutability of competitive products to ensure better products and lower costs. As a community of users, the government is large enough to be its own very important market and, when organized, a powerful force for improvement. SIA standards provide the venue and the focused program — OSIPS — that enables the government attainment of its objectives. 

Summit to Focus on the End User
Recent efforts by SIA’s Government Relations staff have focused on raising end-user awareness of the industry’s efforts to produce OSIPS standards and to increase the level of participation by federal government security professionals in SIA’s open standards activities. This is an important opportunity for government security and risk management professionals. A key objective of the summit’s panel discussion is to detail industry standards activities that are relevant and available to end users, how to effectively participate in those activities and how best to make the time spent effective. 

The panel will also provide an opportunity to look at a few ways in which the government utilizes industry standards in its specifications and procurement activities. There will be discussions identifying how standards affect the acquisition of security technology by the federal government. This may be compared with other industries’ acquisitions by the federal government as well. Government panelists representing the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and Department of Defense’s Security Equipment Integration Working Group (SEIWG) will be presenting. 

SIA, as a formal ANSI-accredited SDO (Standards Developing Organization), has a vested interest in sponsoring this dialogue between the security industry and end users. SIA standards activities are tasked with fulfilling customer and security integrator demands for product standards that would ease the construction of large systems and enable interoperability between similar and dissimilar system components. As noted above, this endeavor is called the OSIPS Project and is a family of standards designed to meet these objectives. This goal is far more achievable with government support.

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