What is SOSA?

What is Sensor Open Systems Architecture or SOSA?

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Jan 23, 2022

Sensor Open System Architecture (SOSA) is a consortium that was established to develop an open technical standard and best practices for sensors used in military and commercial electronic systems. This allows flexibility in the selection and acquisition of sensors and subsystems used to develop communication (Comms), electro-optical/infra-red (EO/IR), electronic warfare (EW), military radar, and signals intelligence (SIGINT) systems. The goal of the SOSA consortium is to enhance and accelerate the deployment of affordable, capable, interoperable sensor systems, as well as reduce the development cost of the sensor systems by creating an open architecture. 

The SOSA consortium has been formed by a collaboration between government, industry, and academia. It has broad participation, commitment, and contributions from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) – including the Army, Navy, and Air Force – as well as industry, academia, and other government organizations. 

Source: The Open Group's SOSA Consortium

SOSA provides guidelines for sensors used in Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems. C4ISR systems are becoming increasingly important for mission success. The networks of C4ISR collect massive amounts of data from multiple sensors, databases, and other sources worldwide. This data is fused and processed into usable information and shared securely among authorized users (war fighter) for mission success or taking important decisions based on the situation. SOSA makes development of C4ISR systems easier and can help lower their cost, as companies can now acquire hardware and software components from multiple vendors speeding up development and making upgrades significantly easier.

In an open architecture platform, the product developers and customers can interact freely to get customized solutions. Also, the SOSA open architecture allows participation from multiple product/component suppliers that leads to healthy competition for supplying quality products. Hence, the customer has multiple options for a product, and this ensures a quality product at an affordable cost.

The SOSA technical standard describes specification requirement and establishes guidelines for sensor product developers for military applications. The standard incorporates specifications for hardware elements including electrical and mechanical interfaces composing the SOSA sensor element. Sensor products that comply with the new SOSA technical standard provide benefits such as interoperability with DoD-acquired sensor technologies, cost-effective embedded solutions, and commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) sensor technologies that can be easily and quickly integrated, repaired, or replaced.

The SOSA Consortium is focusing its efforts in three main areas:

  • Development of a non-propriety open system architecture based on DoD-relevant government or commercially available open standards for reconfigurable, evolvable, and affordable C4ISR capabilities
  • Creating a conformance process that will protect intellectual Property (IP) rights, and provide guidance for incorporating SOSA into the acquisition process
  • Lowering costs by opening competition and encouraging innovation to deliver new capabilities faster

On SEPTEMBER 30, 2021, the open group SOSA consortium published the first technical Standard for SOSA™ Reference Architecture, Edition 1.0. The SOSA technical standard is one of the open standards, and it uses existing government initiatives & standards (for example, FACE) & industry standards (for example, VITA). Click here to view the latest Technical Standard for SOSATM Reference Architecture, Edition 1.0, Version 3.

Benefits of Sensor Open System Architecture (SOSA):

  • Facilitate interoperability
  • Reduces system integration cost and risk 
  • Increases commonality and reuse
  • Reduces sustainment and modernization cost
  • Enables technology transition
  • Supports capability evolution and mitigate obsolescence

The open architecture supports airborne, subsurface, ground, and space. The SOSA open architecture approach helps to address Department of Defense (DoD) needs for a cohesive unified set of sensor capabilities and also addresses the issues of sensor users such as affordability, versatility, and capabilities.

SOSA is part of Open Group. The Open Group is a global consortium that enables companies to achieve their business objectives through technology standards. Click here to see a list of SOSA Consortium Members.

Click here to learn more about the SOSA consortium.

Here is a detailed video on the Sensor Open Systems Architecture