When Marc Harrison, president of Silicon East, a Marlboro, N.J.-based solution provider, sits down with facility managers who want to automate their buildings, his first question always is, "Is it secure?"
"[Security is] a door-opener," he said. "Everyone is aware that it's a problem, and it’s the solution providers that can make a difference here."
Silicon East has worked with customers from large office spaces to residential complexes to tap into this vital, and sometimes ignored, need.
Building automation is set to take off as smart building technologies are forecast to see significant global investments of up to $40 billion this year, according to market research firm IDC.
The building managers willing to shell out this money are looking to connect and automatically control various systems across their properties, including security cameras, HVAC systems and lighting.
For facility owners, these IoT applications help to improve reliability and performance, reduce energy and use, and minimize the environmental impact on buildings.
Silicon East works with the HVAC vendors that are installing the automation systems to "act as the internet gatekeeper for all the services in the building – in a secure way," said Harrison.
For commercial buildings, the SonicWall partner makes sure that no one on public Wi-Fi can get to the control system through securing HVAC systems, access controls and security cameras, he said.
Bacem Moussa, CEO of Boston-based solution provider TSP, which works with both commercial buildings and luxury smart homes, said one of the channel's biggest roles in building automation is security.
"We start with security. ... Security comes first, and then we build everything around that," he said. "In the home, most people won't worry about it. But in the high-end home, we need to present homeowners with the reality of it and find the right solutions to solve this security issue with consumer-oriented products."