September 2022
Interview

AutomatedBuildings.com

Babel Buster Network Gateways: Big Features. Small Price.
Control Solutions, Inc. - Minnesota

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Tracy Markie

CEO & Founder - Engenuity Systems, Inc.

Chairman of the Board – LonMark International




Tracy Markie has been leading technology companies for more than 30 years.  Honored as an entrepreneurial business leader, Mr. Markie has received more than a dozen local, state, national and industry awards personally and for his companies.  The U.S. Department of Energy appointed him to the GridWise Architecture Council, a think tank organization, where he served three terms.  Mr. Markie currently serves as Chairman of the Board of LonMark International, a worldwide trade association for networking technologies.  He’s a Certified Energy Manager and Demand-side Energy Manager through the Association of Energy Engineers and a Certified LonWorks Professional.  Mr. Markie’s career and leadership experience includes aerospace systems, building automation, energy management/sustainability and leading-edge IoT technologies at large organizations including Intel and United Technologies as well as startups like Engenuity Systems and Small Box Energy, both of which he founded. 

 

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Email: tracy@engenuity.com

Linkedin: linkedin.com/in/tracymarkie

Website:  www.engenuity.com

Website: www.lonmark.org

 

 

Ken:  Tracy, I know your ‘day job’ is CEO of Engenuity Systems, Inc, but with our September ’22 focus surrounding “Connecting Communities”, can I talk to you with your “LonMark hat” on mostly today?

 

Tracy:  Of course!  “Connecting communities” has been central to my work in both Engenuity (www.engenuity.com) and LonMark (LMI) (www.lonmark.org) for several decades.  The two organizations and my roles in both have allowed me to pursue my vision of a connected world: sometimes in surprising different ways and other times very synergistically. 

 

Since its inception 28 years ago, Engenuity’s official vision statement has been “everything electrical interconnected into a single communicating network.” It’s been literally painted on our office walls for decades!  Historically, one of Engenuity’s roles has been as a distributor focused heavily on networking technologies and products for our industry.  By definition, we have been connecting end-users, system integrators and manufacturers with each other as well as the products, technology and solutions they create and use.  Today we do that with our new Iot software platform called eViewIoT.  In both situations, Engenuity has allowed me to pursue this vision and passion commercially, so I can pay the bills ;)

 

Since LonMark’s inception in 1994, it too has been all about connecting “things.”  Sometimes this means creating communities of cities, companies, buildings, and people; while under another definition it’s more about connecting communities of devices and systems into something more cohesive and communicative. 

 

But, LonMark does this as an independent non-profit organization with a much greater purpose in mind: “To build a world that is safer, more sustainable, and more interoperable while ensuring an economically positive outcome for all stakeholders” as stated in its most recently formed vision.  My work with this organization has always been as a volunteer to serve this greater purpose.

 

Ken:  Interesting perspective on connecting communities.  LonMark has been around for a long time, but I haven’t heard much from them lately.  What has the organization been up to?

 

Tracy:  As you said, LMI is a very mature organization.  And despite what some of your readers may have heard, while its members and their technologies have been around for a while, they are both very much alive and still innovating – albeit often misunderstood and misrepresented.  Because of this perception, LMI has been working to evolve itself to adjust to the new realities of our world and to the speed in which it advances.  Specifically, the organization has progressed its core focus beyond just LonWorks technology and is becoming more “protocol inclusive” as well as community-oriented and people-focused.

 

Ken: What do you mean by “progressed its core focus” and “protocol inclusive?”

 

Tracy:  In LMI’s most recent press release we introduce these concepts.  In the early 90’s LMI led the world in the first steps towards open and inter-operable technologies that precipitated the Internet of Things.  Much of this work surrounded one platform, LonWorks, originally conceived by Echelon Corporation.  However, from the beginning, LMI operated independently and as a non-profit.  It worked to move LON technology into the public sector and continuously created standards independently from any single organization.

 

Sometimes these standards surrounded the protocol stack/layer, but often they were created above the protocol layer and ranged from standard definitions of variable-types to fully functional standard equipment profiles.  The organization was doing the work to make things interoperable before it even mattered to most people.

 

This work impacted many industry sectors including buildings, semiconductors, railway controls and locomotives, factories, and others.  LMI even laid the groundwork for Smarter Cities by making applications like building automation, street lighting, traffic control, and public transportation interoperable.  And maybe most important to note for today’s conversation, most of this work can be adopted and used by anyone and independently of a single protocol, i.e., protocol inclusive.  With this in mind, LMI is evolved as an organization, shifting its view of the world a bit to focus more on the concept of ‘Interoperability’ and less on which protocol gets us there.

 

Ken:  I see what you mean by “evolved,” and the focus on connecting and creating communities is nice to hear about.  Is there anything else new from LMI?

 

Tracy:  Yes, we also made another announcement in the press release.  In support of this vision and evolved purpose, LMI also announced that it has just made the LON Stack publicly available at no charge as open source code on Github (https://github.com/LonMarkTech/lon-stack-dx-lmi).

 

Ken:  What does this mean to the community?  Is it really a big deal?

 

Tracy:  YES! It is a big deal!  Having the LON Stack openly available at no charge opens the technology to a whole new community of hardware and software developers.  It’s our hope that this includes and connects people beyond just the building automation community who can now take advantage of all the interoperability standards created by LMI over the years.  This means the technology can be openly and easily ported to any device, free of charge, with no royalties of any kind.  It opens the door to the creation of multi-protocol systems and devices in a way never before possible.

 

Ken: This seems almost counterproductive to those who make a living surrounding LON technology, why would LMI change its core purpose and openly release this technology?

 

Tracy:  LMI and its members have been around long enough to understand the world continues to evolve - as does innovation and technology.  We’ve seen the introduction and adoption of many new networking protocols/technologies and understand as well as anyone the importance of evolving and making room for new ideas.  Today we are working across industry sectors globally to ensure this value is delivered vertically and horizontally, so that our world is truly “Connected Community.”

 

Ken:  That seems like a great tie-back to our theme and a great place to bring this discussion to a close.  Thanks for your time today, I appreciate you sharing about LMI and its new direction.  Sometime in the near future, I hope we can catch up with what’s new at Engenuity Systems!

 

You can learn more about LMI at www.lonmark.org and follow their change and new direction on any of their social media accounts.



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