The smart building industry with Pook-Ping Yao: Nexus podcast

Ping discusses the history of Optigo Networks, future goals, and the difference between IT and OT
Nexus Labs podcast interview with Ping Yao and James Dice

On the Nexus podcast, founder and host James Dice interviews some of the brightest leaders in the smart building industry. It is a great resource to gain insight and learn from experienced industry professionals. 

In episode #33 of Nexus, Optigo Networks’ CEO Pook-Ping Yao joined James to discuss (Operational Technology) OT networks, and share insights on BACnet and the smart building industry. This blog gathers a few highlights, but make sure to check out the full episode on the Nexus website.

Host James Dice has a favourite question he regularly asks guests on the podcast: “Why is technology in our buildings so far behind technology, say, in our pockets?” 

Ping described it as two completely different worlds. The people in the smart buildings industry are primarily focused on the fact that the building has to stand for the next 50 years. They cannot revamp the building technology every couple of years, because it simply isn’t feasible. Meanwhile, the average person probably replaces their cell phone every two years. The technologies in our buildings versus in our phones have different priorities and different timelines.

James and Ping went into the topic of OT as well: what it is, and how it compares to IT. Ping explained the difference: “IT [is] a function of creating a system for communicating between people […] OT is connecting machines.” 

James also asked why people are separating IT and OT rather than giving the responsibility over to the people already working at the IP level of the building. Ping said:

It's not a technology question. It's not a performance problem. It's a people problem. If a new building is being built […] and the owner says, “I want my OT system, security cameras, lighting, elevators […] etc. to be on my IT network,” the simple question to ask is: is IT now going to be responsible for the construction phase and all the responsibilities of OT?

If the IT executive is willing to put the needs of OT first and take on that responsibility, then you should take the opportunity. However, if they aren’t able to do that, then having a dedicated OT network makes more sense. In the past two to three years, Ping experienced many organizations that wanted to switch to separate systems because of the hassle of combining IT and OT.

When asked about Optigo and Ping’s goals for the company, he said, “We had this dream: our dream was to create this networking infrastructure for the smart building that would not only create a tunnel or conduit between point A and point B […] but we wanted to provide [first] that infrastructure that allows people to communicate.” Moving forward, “we thought, let's provide a network that can connect everything, that's a primary function. [Second] let's make sure we can redirect traffic so that it's working right. [And] third is being able to see when something is not going right.” In the long term, Ping’s vision is to close the loop and enable automatic tuning of the network. 

Make sure to check out the full episode as there were many more topics and questions covered in the interview. Our thanks to James Dice at Nexus for having us on the podcast!

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