June 13, 2022
Digital Twins are Driving Digital Transformations in the Built World

Digital transformations more than ever have become a vital part of any property management plan for owners and operators. While the new Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) provides a significant amount of funds for the repair and maintenance of America’s roads, bridges, waterways and other infrastructure assets, the ability to use these funds in the most effective and efficient way possible will be driven by digital transformations and digital twin technology. 

What are Digital Twins? 

Digital twins, in effect, is a technology that is able to store, organize and access data produced by building and tech systems, as well as presenting this data so that it can be analyzed and utilized much more easily. This analysis can lead to transparency throughout the design, build and management process of any asset type for the life cycle of the building, as well as providing for a centralized location for all data generated. Due to the complexity of commercial assets, the need to optimize spaces for tenants and consumers is of crucial importance, and digital twins can offer optimized efficiencies, including added resiliency and ROI for investors, owners and operators. 

One company leading the way in digital twin technology is Willow, who empower asset owners and operators to make proactive, data-led decisions in real time through their WillowTwin technology. The aim when using a digital twin is to open up new avenues for sustainability, tenant experience, risk and efficiency management, and specifically the integration of data and insights across entire portfolios. By mapping a building or portfolio infrastructure system with WillowTwin, operators will be able to identify problems and maintenance issues well before they actually occur, and can lead to cost savings throughout the lifecycle of a property. 

Integration of Data Leads to New Efficiencies and Public Health 

WillowTwin has been vital for owners and operators as it is able to provide context for any data produced, and identifies relationships between a building’s equipment, systems, spaces and people to further create cost saving mechanisms.  More broadly, this technology can be applied to any kind of asset type, from traditional apartment buildings to NFL stadiums to airports and has efficiencies incorporated such as insights into climate control, fault detection, cost management, safety, leasing activity, meeting room management, visitor and access security and can help contribute to water reduction. 

Furthermore, digital twins are able to support not only management of properties and lead to higher prices per square foot and occupancy levels, but also help to improve the tenant and customer experience. At the moment, workers returning to the office are concerned with indoor air quality (IAQ) and public health and wellness. WillowTwin is able to gather data via sensors for IAQ, and automate the cleaning schedules of spaces. 

Sustainability and ESG are Key Factors in Strategies Now 

Many cities in recent years have implemented new regulations in regards to sustainability and emission targets for the built world. In places like New York City, buildings over 25,000 square feet are required to cut emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. These requirements mirror plans put into place by the EU and they should be expected to be the norm moving forward when it comes to energy efficiency, transparency and ESG policies. 

Willow’s recent partnership with Brookfield Properties at 1 Manhattan West is a prime example of how digital twin technology can drive new efficiencies in any kind of asset type. This tech has ensured management has been able to incorporate static, geospatial and live data into plans and maintenance, as well as easy access to smart building applications which can provide for, among other things, faster detection and repair of building issues and needed updates. 

Cybersecurity and Data Safety for Entire Portfolios 

Finally, a key feature of any building infrastructure system is the ability to ensure safety of all data collected from an entire portfolio or individual properties. Cyber security attacks are able to cause damage to a business’ profit margins and bottom line, as well as place the safety and security of tenants at risk. With this in mind, building owners and operators should prioritize their operational and information technology systems and ensure maximum protection moving forward. Digital twins are able to support this, as centralizing data into one source allows for a much more effective and robust risk management for investors and executives. Furthermore, WillowTwin and similar technologies are able to simulate cyberattacks as well as identify any exploitable or vulnerable sections of a building’s data infrastructure. More specifically, Willow’s technology offers the only solution that has been fully vetted and invested in by the US intelligence community. 

The broadening use of digital twin technology in effect will bring together a building’s HVAC and energy systems, combined with an improved tenant experience can lead to new and effective insights into operations, efficiencies, and provide necessary and optimal information across an entire portfolio for asset managers, owners and operators.