The Internet of Things is changing a lot of industries and while commercial buildings may not be the most talked about IoT frontier, there are scores of new opportunities for property owners, building managers and contractors who understand this new connected world. One company out of the Bay Area has its finger on the pulse of a big transition in the operations and information technology systems that make up new and old buildings from offices to shopping malls to data centers.
Founded in 2016, OTI is a master systems integrator driven to enhance commercial building performance through operational and information technology solutions. In a recent interview with OTI’s President Brian Turner, we discussed OTI’s core business, why the company is expanding its expertise and how the IoT is opening new avenues for commercial buildings to become more energy and operationally efficient.
OTI has an extensive background in HVAC controls, lighting controls, energy monitoring and utility metering. As a master systems integrator, it is OTI’s focus to connect building systems for operational efficiency, advanced energy management and IT-level security.
“We believe it is necessary to have expertise in all building systems – including information technology –so that we can correctly install, manage and help clients cost-effectively maintain those systems over time,” Turner said. “More operational technology devices are coming with IP and WiFi connectivity consequently adding new complexity to IT and OT networks. This is how the IoT is changing commercial building management and we’re working to make sure we remain on the forefront of these changes so that our customer sites are future-proof and cyber-secure.”
Turner explains that while the IoT is creating efficiencies for networks and people, connected systems can create access holes for hackers to exploit if contractors and integrators aren’t thinking of security at every turn. For OTI, the interconnectivity of the IoT requires OT and IT systems be made secure with purpose-built networks that are actively managed.
“We strive to stay up to date with all new trends,” Turner said. “Customers are continuously thinking of ways to manage their businesses and buildings more efficiently and, as they discuss those plans with us, we are looking for both hardware and software solutions that achieve their goals. Most of our competitors install or implement the same solution for all clients. OTI understands that each building is unique and solutions need to be tailored to specific goals for each project. As the IoT gets a stronger footing in commercial buildings, we are involved in integrations across all building systems, including operational and information technology.
Once a building’s physical infrastructure is complete – this includes fiber that runs through the building core, network switches that offer flexibility and purpose-built devices throughout the network – OTI begins connecting all the pieces together to the enterprise level. This is the integration part of the project, where the IoT magic is happening.
“When we connect systems, we usually follow three levels of integration: physical, database, and user experience,” Turner explained. “We integrate systems for a cohesive user management experience and a scalable network architecture that can handle the unique bandwidth requirements of building devices. Our unique integration team creates a backbone that allows for secure data processing at the edge and transfer to the cloud for advanced analysis. With the data flowing, our graphics team can visualize it and our analytics team can get to work finding what’s meaningful for different levels of management.”
As a building controls contractor and master systems integrator with an in-house IT team, OTI leads a variety of projects for all systems within commercial buildings. The IoT will continue to converge on industries and OTI is committed to deepening its expertise to support clients as they realize the data-rich potential of the IoT for commercial buildings.