Where Does Open Architecture Fit in Aviation Today?

Guest Author by Guest Author | Mar 31, 2023
By Joe Yaeger, Director – Operations & Professional Services, Rheinberry

Back in July 2020, ACI EUROPE published the ACI Open Architecture for Airport Security Systems, establishing the foundation to explore Open Architecture (OA) in more detail for the aviation world.  Since then, ACI, its members, European Organisation for Security (EOS, representing Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)) and the Transport Security Administration (TSA) have been collaborating to represent all their perspectives in a new publication set for release in 2023.

Originally, OA was poorly understood. Organizations had siloed data and lacked secure connectivity.  Today, largely thanks to widespread interest, many organizations are embarking on a journey towards adopting OA principles into their security products and requirements (e.g., in the area of DICOS image standards). Increasingly, this also includes efforts on data connectivity between security devices.  The TSA’s Open Platform Software Library (OPSL) Software Development Kit, and the EOS’s Application Programming Interface (API), are the leading areas where regulators and OEMs continue to collaborate.  At the time of this blog, OPSL is looking for live airport implementation opportunities to support.

Open architecture in aviation today

Worldwide, new equipment adoption is typically driven by airports seeking improved security and enhanced passenger flow, in addition to implementing any national regulation requirements.  An example of this is the UK, where a Department for Transport security systems mandate needs to be addressed. The ACI Open Architecture for Airport Security Systems continues to guide airport operators in the current security tender process. 

In addition to regulatory requirements, other technical considerations such as an underlying Semantic Data Model exists.  ACI’s Aviation Community Recommended Information Services (ACRIS) is being enhanced to support OA. While the improvement of user management is being considered using technologies such as System for Cross Domain Identity Management (SCIM).

For the uninitiated, this presents a minefield of acronyms and technologies.  As an airport operator, how do you decide what to adopt?  And more importantly, how do you approach understanding how OA benefits your investors and customers?  And how will it help assure your airport is prepared for new regulatory and passenger demands?

Open architecture can deliver a variety of benefits

The security environment surrounding air travel has evolved dramatically in the past 30 years. Organizations requiring security solutions must increasingly respond faster, and more efficiently to geopolitical threats. Meanwhile, airport operations need to be maintained to deliver against existing and future airport strategies, recognizing the need for cost-effectiveness whilst balancing future investments.

OA provides a way for airport stakeholders to address the challenges of integrating multi-vendor components and solutions, while ensuring a solid cyber security foundation. By adopting OA principles, airports can benefit from improved product warranty, integration, efficiency, extensibility, and flexibility in their security systems. This can lead to better and more innovative solutions being implemented and can help future-proof airports against evolving regulatory and passenger demands. However, there is still a need for careful consideration of the wider context, and balancing urgency, cost, and timely implementation when making product decisions.

OA is best considered as a “capability multiplier” within the airport security sector, meaning that applying OA to one component of your business will extend the typical usage of the targeted capability area to unforeseen, beneficial levels. Alternatively, it can also open opportunities for innovation in other areas without requiring the same level of effort or investment.

What benefits might OA provide to your airport?

As a “capability multiplier” within the airport security sector, OA can help airports in a variety of ways. These include administering multi-vendor solution procurement and implementation, driving internal, operational efficiencies, sharing security operations data across airport functions and adopting a common security data framework unlocking future evolution of security functions. Overarching to all of this, OA can enable inter-airport collaboration, for example in the areas of procurement requirements and industry standards and measures.

For other audiences like OEMs and integrators, OA can act as a common language for airport security solutions, improving adaptability and responsiveness to emerging threats. OA can enable a reduced need for customized data interfaces, integrating amongst suppliers with unique solution arrangements and increase opportunities regardless of existing airport OEM contracts. 

For the purpose of this blog, we will consider a mid-sized international/regional airport, >10M passengers a year, single runway and no more than two terminals.  Its reputation shows that it is punching above weight in terms of customer satisfaction and destinations served.  It must meet minimum security screening standards yet remain keen to investigate methods to innovate.

As a mid-sized international/regional airport, here are some examples of where OA could deliver some direct benefits. These examples are based on use cases where Rheinberry has previously advised and supported clients.

  • Checkpoint management: optimization of checkpoint operations, including equipment and procedures can be underpinned by OA.
  • User management: OA can be used as a key tool in assuring that the right security resources are aligned to passenger forecasts, including the optimal deployment of security teams (being aligned, trained, and operating effectively).
  • Common security reporting: creating a holistic end to end view of airport security performance and assuring a common access and understanding across affected functions benefits from integrating OA into the fabric of reporting.
  • Improving engineering and maintenance capabilities: OA can be key to gaining insight into the mechanical systems and performance data regarding security equipment and systems and building sufficient data to enable predictive forecasting to improve maintenance effectiveness.

Each use case can be expanded and developed to identify the benefits to individual organizations.  Rheinberry has worked through many of these, offering clients the benefit of their experience and that of their partner organizations.

The Implementation of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in the Security Checkpoint White Paper

Rheinberry, along with Pangiam, also supported the ACI World Implementation of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in the Security Checkpoint White Paper, developed with guidance from the Smart Security Management Group and ACI Regions and representatives, which includes a chapter on OA.

Implementation of AI and ML in the Security Checkpoint
Read it now

In summary

The complexity of the aviation security (and broader air transport) environment and systems has increased in complexity.

In our connected world, with multiple sources of information and new opportunities to process this data, there is a massive untapped potential for new solutions. Currently, there are limitations on the availability of real-time data and common interfaces to create cross-OEM solutions.

OA will facilitate:

  • Standardization and interoperability, enabling data sharing for existing and future airport requirements.
  • Adding, replacing and updating systems and devices without the difficulties associated with commercial barriers, proprietary protocols etc.
  • Solutions independent of OEM or location.

OA will provide:

  • A more flexible way to adapt and respond to emerging threats and advances in technology.
  • Improved efficiencies operationally and in terms of procurement.
  • A foundation for more easily accessible data and information output.
  • A framework around which airport operators can build their security implementations.

Joe Yaeger is Rheinberry’s Director – Operations & Professional Services.

Originally from Detroit, now residing in the UK, his career spans three decades across multiple sectors and industries.

Joe is committed to Rheinberry’s mission of improving passenger experience and enabling airports to optimise operations through data accessibility and integration.

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