Digital Twins are Shaking the Foundations of the Property Industry

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Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of standing alongside Mark Tait, Group Executive and Head of Commercial Development at Investa at the IoT World Congress in Barcelona. The conference was a whirlwind and although it didn’t quite match the grandeur of the Sagrada Familia or the theatre of Las Ramblas, it did capture the excitement that permeates its host city.

Together, we explained how the partnership between Willow and Investa — a 5-year journey across multiple buildings and cities — has powered the evolution of the digital twin for the built environment.

Over the past decade, digital technologies have disrupted just about every industry, ushering in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Social media platforms, on-demand streaming services, and online shopping have changed the way we work, shop, and entertain ourselves. Not only that, but companies themselves have been reshaped, focusing on productivity, transparency, and sustainability.

There is no doubt that we are on the cusp of something extraordinary and the built world will be transformed in the next decade. There is a growing tide of owners and occupiers that do not intend to flounder in the backwash of the coming age of technology transformation in the built world, who will harness the power of the Digital Twin.

Over 100 years ago, Thomas Edison gave us electricity and a platform for it to be applied to industry, Henry Ford one of the early adopters lead the way in 1904. Those great companies, those great innovators, the visionaries that defined the modern world: the category makers that rode the first waves of the industrial revolution, the first waves of information age and the first waves of the internet century. They were willing and brave to lead the new way forward to pioneer new technology and embrace innovation. The modern world was conquered by those who moved forward.

As the great Isaac Newton said in 1675, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” For us at Willow, we stand with confidence on the shoulders of some of the world’s largest and most admired owners of real estate and infrastructure networks. Together, we will be at the leading edge of innovation and technology in order to bring a new chapter to the built world that is more connected, more sustainable, more intuitive, and more innovative.

Willow and Investa
(L-R) Nathan Lyon (Head of Building Technology, Investa), Michelle Zamora (Chief Marketing Officer, Willow), Mark Tait (Group Executive and Head of Commercial Development, Investa), Joshua Ridley (CEO and Co-founder, Willow), Dale Brett (Chief Product Officer and Co-founder, Willow), Shen Chiu (Development Director, Commercial Development, Investa), Toni Trumbull (Client Director, Willow)

Investa and Willow’s relationship is a testimony to the power of partnerships between innovators and visionaries that can reshape the world.

The Evolution of the Digital Twin

Although the concept of a digital twin isn’t new, there are three mega trends that are making it a possibility for any property: processing power available at scale, high speed connectivity with increased bandwidth, and significant sensor technology improvements at reduced costs.

The digital twin create a platform that captures every piece of data across the entire building lifecycle, and generates a real-time, interactive model of the building. This platform unlocks the value of data in real time. It provides powerful insights and analytics that transform the efficiency, compliance, standards of construction and operation of a building. As a result, owners develop more highly valued buildings and better experiences for their tenants.

Investa first brought in our Digital Engineering team to support their digital transformation over five years ago. This team specialises in capturing, validating, structuring and managing data. This highly specialised service enhances the design and delivery process, improves constructability, reduces risk and improves asset management throughout the project lifecycle.

Investa had created a Building Information Model (BIM) for many of their landmark buildings but became frustrated by the fact that the massive amounts of data generated in this process was often discarded at the end of construction. They saw a huge opportunity to leverage this valuable information to inform the management of facilities in the operation phase of their assets.

A Legacy of Partnership

Willow and Investa

567 Collins Street, a 600,000sqf premium-grade commercial office building in Melbourne, Australia, became one of the first properties in the world to capture all of the data and have it accessible in real time. Investa could know where over 50,000 assets in the building were, from flooring to door handles, and had access to over 14,000 live data points to tell which lights, pumps, and lifts are working in real time, on a totally open platform.

In 2019, the iconic 60 Martin Place will launch in Sydney. The project started out in 2012 with the developers shuffling into Town Hall to collect paper copy drawings. Next year, it will be entirely digitally enabled when it is handed over from construction to operations, with one final handshake and a notification on the building manager’s smartphone — saving hundreds of thousands of dollars that are caused by delays, lost information and inevitable disputes.

Willow and Investa
The digital twin of Investa's Barrack Place

The digital twin is changing the way Investa does business, and in turn Investa is changing the built world. The most exciting thing about this platform is the possibilities. It is about so much more than just creating a digitally enabled building. The Willow platform enables Investa to understand exactly what is going on, through receiving live data directly from their assets. There are a number of ‘software as a service’ products that give Investa access to security, concierge or even maintenance services. It also creates a marketplace for third-party applications – like the App Store or Google Play, you can integrate other solutions into the one platform.

Digital twins for the built environment will change the way we create places that people live, work, and play. It’s amazing to see a growing group of visionary owners like Investa who are embracing innovation and taking advantage of the revolution happening in 2018.

Joshua Ridley is the CEO and Co-Founder of 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 [email protected]
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