COVID-19 and the way forward for the building automation industry

Thinking about our new normal, and how buildings can evolve to help keep us safe and secure
Covid-19 and the BAS industry

By Pook-Ping Yao, CEO, Optigo Networks

What a time it’s been. We’re a few months into what could be a year — or more — of the new normal. I’ve enjoyed seeing more of my wife and kids, eating daily lunches together and exploring our board game collection. 

But we’re also learning to cope in a world where a simple visit to the grocery store isn’t so simple anymore. Masks and physical distancing are important protections, if (at times) unsettling reminders that we aren’t out of the woods yet.  

I keep thinking about how different our indoor spaces feel these days. I’ve long talked about how four walls and a roof can give us a sense of security. They’re a barrier to the potential threats of the outside world. 

Now, we’re being advised to socialize with “few faces, [in] big spaces.” And the great indoors feels like the real danger, with microscopic threats we can’t identify and avoid. 

This feeling might be inevitable until a vaccine is widely available, of course. A while ago, I asked my staff when they thought they’d be travelling or going out to restaurants again. They talked about different precautions, like limits on airplane seat sales to allow for physical distancing, or restaurants having outdoor patios and proper ventilation. Everyone said their return to full normalcy was contingent upon vaccinations. 

Until that day comes, though, how can we make indoors in the public space safer? 

A lot of folks are returning to work these days. Again, masks and physical distancing are sure to remain standard practice for the foreseeable future. But I’m certain that the building technology industry can also help provide protections for the people who live, work, and play in the buildings we help design, develop, and maintain.

I recently watched a fantastic interview on CNN with Honeywell CEO Darius Adamczyk. Adamczyk discussed how building technology solutions will contribute to safer spaces as folks return to commercial buildings. 

There’s monitoring indoor air quality and air flow, which of course is directly related to BAS. Intelligent technology can also check whether people are wearing their Personal Protective Equipment, or scan body temperature to ensure no one’s running a fever. The technology being created today is incredible, and it could do amazing things for securing indoor spaces against the invisible threat of COVID-19. 

I’d urge you to watch Adamczyk’s interview for his full take on BAS and the virus. It certainly got me thinking more about how our buildings will adapt to this new world, more immediately and well into the future. 

Maybe sensors will be widely installed, to further reduce the number of surfaces we physically interact with. Adamczyk mentioned UV light can be used to treat and purify air: perhaps germicidal UV light will become commonplace in our HVAC systems. Those are just a few innovations that exist today. What other new inventions will help pandemic-proof our commercial buildings? 

As we slowly expand our bubbles to include some public spaces, four walls and a roof might feel different for a while yet. It will take some time and effort to make the indoors feel “normal” again, but I know our buildings can adapt to keep us safe and secure.


Article originally published in Automated Buildings

Recent Blog Posts

Whether it’s building a new piece of furniture or setting up some slick new tech, we’ve all been there: you’re ready to go, you pull up the instructions… and find that it’s way more complicated than you originally thought.

By Kevin Callahan, Product Evangelist at Alerton, and Pook-Ping Yao, CEO at Optigo Networks

Optigo Connect has long been a powerful solution for Operational Technology (OT) network management.

By Pook-Ping Yao, CEO, Optigo Networks

June 2, 2020 Vancouver, BC – Optigo Networks, the connectivity, monitoring, and analytics company, now offers a complete networking solution for Operational Technology (OT).

Recent Projects

Data center expansion with OTI and Optigo Connect

DATA CENTER EXPANSION

Stack Infrastructure is a portfolio of hyperscale computing data centers. OTI completed work on Phases I and II, and returned for the Phase III build-out of a 4-megawatt data hall and brand new central plant. The Optigo Connect network put in place in Phases I and II was expanded on this project. The team achieved quick roll-out of a large, multi-service redundant network using the Optigo OneView management interface. Going forward, the facility management team can use OneView to remotely monitor equipment, manage power usage, and meet up-time goals.

Optigo Connect MR Soluciones The Landmark

THE LANDMARK

The Landmark is a sophisticated mixed-use high-rise in Mexico. The owners wanted to integrate all OT systems in the skyscraper, while maintaining separate networks for each application. The Landmark is the fourth joint project between Optigo Networks and MR Soluciones. Together, these companies provide robust services to meet any challenge.

Australian Bureau of Statistics at 45 Benjamin Way with Delta Building Automation

45 BENJAMIN WAY

Delta Building Automation (Australia) had a big job renovating the Headquarters for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) at 45 Benjamin Way. The building owner wanted to improve the building’s energy use and increase their National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) score to more than 4.5 stars, out of a possible total of six. Securing the network both internally and externally was a big priority, as well.

Penn State University Optigo Networks Visual BACnet

PENN STATE UNIVERSITY

When Tom Walker looked at Penn State University’s Navy Yard network, he saw huge issues. The system was busy and loud, to the point where the overrun network was bringing down the entire building. Because this was happening on the MS/TP network, pinpointing the problem would mean boots on the ground to segment and test the chain, piece by piece.

Penn State University Optigo Networks Visual BACnet

PENN STATE UNIVERSITY

When Tom Walker first started working at Penn State University four years ago, there were a lot of network issues. Buildings were dropping offline. Broadcast traffic was pushing 90,000 packets per hour. Walker was on the phone almost every single night because devices were down or had to be reset.

 

Torre Manacar Mexico City Optigo Connect

TORRE MANACAR

When MR Soluciones began work on Torre Manacar, they knew they needed a flexible and scalable network infrastructure to support a wide array of integrated systems. Optigo Networks was a natural fit for the massive project, designing a robust network at a competitive cost.

short

SHORT PUMP TOWN CENTER

Short Pump Town Center, an upscale retail center, underwent a complete renovation in 2014. The flexibility of Optigo Networks’ solution meant the retail center’s unknown final design was not a barrier to placing IP surveillance equipment in the field.

BOULEVARD MALL

BOULEVARD MALL

Optigo Networks connected New York-based Boulevard Mall’s security surveillance devices in December 2015, using a Passive Daisy Chain topology.

Visual BACnet tech support team

TECH SUPPORT TEAM

One tech support team at a manufacturer purchased an account with Visual BACnet in April 2017, for technical problems around the world.

Aster Conservatory Green Optigo Connect

ASTER CONSERVATORY GREEN

The Aster Conservatory Green is a community comprising 352 residences across 24 low-rise buildings. The buildings use advanced surveillance and access control technology, including 40 HD video cameras and 60 FOB-access-tele-entry points for access control.