Digital Twins, Groundbreaking for Business Leaders in the Built World

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Note: Excerpts from this article were drawn from a feature in NREIonline.com on March 21, 2019.

Digital twin technology with Willow, offers developers and owners a powerful data tool that accelerates project construction, de-risks handover and commissioning, and provides asset management efficiencies that save time and money. It promises to make buildings more sustainable, whilst helping attract and retain occupants.

These scalable, dynamic models leverage Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create a 2D or 3D digital, geometrically accurate visualisation of buildings and infrastructure networks. Digital twins provide continuously updated information on a project’s status or live building operational data and facilitates machine learning capabilities.

The era of digital twins is here.

Despite the current popularity and hype today, a digital twin is not a new innovation. Dynamic, virtual replicas of physical assets were first used by NASA, however they have now found value in many other industries, such as aviation, oil & gas, and manufacturing.

At Willow, we are redefining the digital twin, and bringing it to the built world. However, this presents its own challenges.

Whilst the built world (which we define as buildings and infrastructure networks) is one of the largest sectors, it is also one of the slowest to embrace technology. It has continued operating as it has for the past 50 years, with a heavy reliance on manual labour, mechanical technology and established operating and business models. Productivity has stagnated as a result. Information is largely siloed or lost in analogue processes, and systems and data are unable to be extracted. Developers and asset owners are losing substantial dollars through delays and lost contracts through inferior systems handling large amounts of information.

Willow’s platform, WillowTwin™ is solving the fundamental data silo issue in the industry.

It collects and harnesses project and building operations data, turning data into value by facilitating smart design and construction, optimising building performance, enhancing user experience and opening new revenue streams for owners of commercial real estate.

Unlocking the value within data

Willow began its journey as a Digital Design and Construction company, advising developers of major, complex buildings and infrastructure projects to leverage technology during design and construction, benefitting the owner through the lifecycle of the asset. Two years ago, in partnership with Investa, a visionary Australian commercial real estate owner and operator, Willow set out to develop a digital solution that draws on static, historic, and live operating data to create actionable insights that can transform the operation of buildings and infrastructure and how occupants and users experience those assets.

In the development of this digital solution, Willow drew on the expertise of Tapify, a Fintech company, who brought strong expertise in technology and software development to the table.

In 2019, Willow evolved from a Digital Design and Construction company to a technology company, integrating its software development capabilities with our deep building industry knowledge base. Willow is the digital twin for the built world.

Through combining these two areas we have developed a complete solution for the built world. WillowTwin™ our platform and WillowDigital™, professional services to accelerate digital adoption. Two distinct, but related parts of our business work together to create smart buildings and infrastructure networks.

More than a model

A digital twin is much more than a 3D model – it is a digital replica of either a building or infrastructure network, processes and systems that brings key data points from all aspects of the project into a “single source of truth” for owners and operators, among various other purposes.

The WillowTwin™ platform brings together three main streams of project information into an easy-to-use, searchable database that can scale to an entire portfolio. This includes:

  • spatial information from the 3D models or 2D drawings developed during the design and construction stages.
  • static information about all equipment that is important to the owner’s maintenance team (such as manufacturer, model and serial numbers, warranty information, expected cost of replacement), as well as PDFs of the owner’s manual and maintenance instructions.
  • live data from systems such as the building management system (BMS), lighting control, physical access control, CCTV, and other IoT sensor networks.

By harnessing real-time data, the platform adds value by helping optimise the performance and occupant experience, to drive savings through actionable insights and predictive maintenance. Owners can also use the platform to glean insights about how occupants behave and automatically predict such needs as environmental comfort.

From design and construct into operations

Through the use of WillowTwin™, a project’s design and construction teams assemble the digital twin as the project is being constructed. Bringing together the information silos that traditionally separate a project’s design and construction teams, the platform reports on the completion and quality of the information that contractors need to present to the owner at project closeout. Collecting and validating this information over the course of the build reduces risk at handover and through operations for all stakeholders, including the owner, investors, and contractors.

Integrations connecting you to a world of possibility

Unlike the model-based facility management solutions on the market, WillowTwin™ is the access point for a vast number of third-party providers that enable owners to take advantage of a range of new smart solutions.

In this way, WillowTwin™ enables enhanced user experience and offers new revenue streams to owners of buildings and infrastructure networks. Through the digital twin, facilities teams can open, manage, and track occupant service requests. Asset managers can review reports on demographics and engagement, including space utilisation, service or amenity preferences, and occupant feedback collected through smartphone apps.

Occupants can use smartphone apps that integrate with the digital twin to pre-register building guests with security, which sends their guests a QR code that is scanned when they enter the building, and then provides a map that guides them to their destinations. It can also digitally unlock doors, reserve conference rooms and amenity spaces, and push notifications of transportation alerts, specials offered by nearby retailers, and instructions during emergency situations.

The digital twin offers a true paradigm shift for the industry

At a very minimum, the digital twin validates, prepares and visualises information for owners and operators of buildings and infrastructure networks who want to make well-informed, data-driven decisions for their properties and portfolios.

But the real paradigm shift that the digital twin brings to our industry comes with the owner’s ability to do incredibly powerful things with their data with relative ease. This includes the ability to run simulations that evaluate multiple options and reveal ways to optimise business operations in real-time and implement new workflows and processes into their organisations. This improves for efficiency and enables best-in-class solutions across their entire portfolio that drive better, smarter outcomes for staff and customers around the globe.

At an even broader scale, the benefits of the digital twin will move beyond the commercial and extend into the social and environmental. How entire communities live, learn, commute and interact with their world can be better understood, visualised, and communicated. The digital twin equips building owners not only with the tools they need to delight the people who use their space and to gain the insights they need to run a better business, but empowers them to create a safer, smarter, more connected built world.

Our mission at Willow is to lead this exciting new category and realise the true potential of the digital twin.

Ian Siegel is a Digital Lead at Willow.

About Willow

Willow is the digital twin for the built world.

Our mission is to empower every person and organisation to connect with the built world in a whole new way.  

For more, visit www.willowinc.com

For media enquiries, contact Michelle Zamora, Global Chief Marketing Officer at PR@willowinc.com
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