Optigo Networks Delivers Security and Efficiency to Smart Buildings

The incredible efficiency and leverage gained in a connected world is matched by an increased need for security.

Smart buildings have become more attractive due to their greater efficiency and optimized environments for their occupants.

Optigo Networks delivers a secure network platform that enables these building automation systems, and in turn, these integrated building systems can drive improvements in operational costs, energy efficiency, and tenant comfort, as well as allow advanced security control systems that protect the building from physical threats.

Optigo has been nominated for the 2015 Technology Impact Award for Most Promising Startup.

The company provides dedicated networks for smart buildings.  This involves everything from the hardware that separates the building technology from the IT network to the software that allows administrators to both manage it and protect it from intrusion.

“Building-networks are different from IT networks.  IT connects information with people, while a building network connects equipment with each other,” explained co-founder Byron Thom.  “IT networks connect people. Computers and phones and printers are really people-centric, whereas in a smart building, everything is machine-to-machine communication.  That’s where Optigo really shines. We are an enabler that allows our users to deploy tens, hundreds, or even thousands of these smart devices.  Not only does Optigo save our customers power, space and cables, but we do it securely, without opening up the building to outside threats.”

One concern slowing the adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) technology is security.  As the IoT heats up, smart-building and -facility managers are becoming aware of the security vulnerabilities that exist within their own networks.  Security research done at HP has shown that 70% of devices under the Internet of Things umbrella are vulnerable to security threats.

“As we were providing these dedicated networks for smart buildings, we saw that security was really a driving force hampering Internet of Things adoption in buildings,” said Pook-Ping Yao, CEO of Optigo Networks.  “There are people who are scared that if they put all of this tech onto their IT network, they risk exposure to hackers getting access to their credit card information, personal data, and corporate information.”

This is a legitimate concern.  Take, for instance, the hack on Target in 2013, when cyber-criminals used a third-party HVAC maintenance person’s logininformation to access data included in live customer transactions.  This type of threat is why the demand for a dedicated network arose.

Optigo’s software secures vulnerabilities in the building network and provides unified management and analytics to predict system failures. “Our analytics engine provides an additional layer of security using the network itself as a security tool,” said Thom.  “By identifying anomalies in the network metadata, we can both lock down intrusions and also identify failures in the devices riding on our network.”

Typically one would want to deploy smart technologies for two reasons: to make the building run more efficiently, and to make the building more comfortable for its occupants.

The proliferation of devices helps solve this problem by providing better data and better control.  “Now that I have more data, I know where a room is hot and where a room is cold.  If I have that info I can make better decisions.  For example, in Vancouver it’s about 25 degrees right now and the south side of the building is warmer than the north side of the building because we have all of this sunlight coming in. First, you can use temperature information to unfurl your automated blinds to block out the sunlight.  Then, if you’re going to turn on the air conditioning, you only turn it on in the regions that are warm.  There is no need to turn it on everywhere.  So from a comfort level, the proliferations of the Internet of Things allows the building to intelligently adapt to changes in the environment. And Optigo provides a platform to securely connect the IoT in buildings.”

As the adoption of smart technology increases, Optigo plans to expand geographically, employing its solutions.

“We want to grow and build out of Vancouver, build up partnerships and enable buildings to leverage the technology that will allow them both to make buildings greener but also make them more comfortable for the tenants.  We think that there’s amazing tech that is being developed and being deployed, and Optigo is happy to be the enabler that allows them to connect securely.”