Willow and Microsoft have been in partnership since 2017, and one of the greatest accomplishments has been working with Azure Digital Twins (ADT) — from the private preview to the launch of general availability, and now with continuous updates to the service. ADT at its core enables Willow to build a knowledge graph, which unlocks many advantages.
Let’s explore 6 of these benefits:
ADT leverages a data model, or ontology, in the background, so when you search WillowTwin™ for an item, it can be searched based on classification. Let’s say you search for “AHU”, the results will include all assets that are classified as air handling units such as rooftop units, dedicated outdoor air systems, and makeup air units. Regardless of how equipment is named at a site, the WillowTwin™ understands that these are all a similar type of equipment.
Search becomes even more powerful by leveraging the relationships that twins in ADT have with each other. Let’s say you search for “air handlers on the roof” or “air handlers serving the 4th floor”. Results will be filtered based on the relationships air handlers have with space (located on the roof) and systems (feeding air to the 4th floor).
Because Willow connects to disparate systems, there is a challenge in making sure the data can be analysed in a standard way. A simple way to appreciate the benefits of standardised analytics is with an occupancy example. To measure occupancy, a building can have several different types of sensors or data sources within their spaces. These sensors may include lighting controls, card readers, motion sensors, people counting sensors, video analytics, Bluetooth beacons, and more. Each sensor generates data in different forms and semantics.
With WillowTwin™ powered by ADT, these data sources are classified in line with the Real Estate Core Digital Twin Definition Language (REC DTDL), enabling analytics to be run across buildings, portfolios, and even multiple portfolios, comparing the relevant data. As a user of WillowTwin™ you will now have insights to utilisation of space in a floor or building regardless of the underlying sensor hardware.
Live data in-context
Each space within the building has live data associated with it, for example occupancy people count, room temperature, or CO₂ levels, that are generated from disparate systems. Each system gets configured with its own mapping sensors to space. ADT enables the live data values to be presented in real-time and displayed in unified context of the space, floor, room, and more.
Notifications on change
Further efficiencies are achieved with ADT as things change within a building. If we look at the example of a room’s occupancy changing from 5 people to 10 people, the twin representing that room in ADT generates a notification. This removes the need for constant polling of updates and allows marketplace solutions to receive real-time, event-driven data from Willow.
Automated control results in tangible benefits in the form of energy savings and improved occupant comfort. A conference room generally has two services, lighting and BMS. The lighting has a motion sensor that activates lights on when someone enters the room (occupied) and lights off when there is no activity after a period (vacant). Instead of the BMS needing an additional sensor to automate conditioning the air in the room, WillowTwin™ can set a rule that if the room status changes from occupied to vacant, adjust the temperature setpoint or mode within the BMS to save energy.
The real power in this example is the ease in which we can configure this rule with the two systems mapped through ADT’s graph database, meaning this rule could be set for an entire building or portfolio without having to map individual systems for each room.
As data comes from multiple vendors, WillowTwin™ needs to ingest it to surface it up in the user-friendly dashboards. When building a traditional integration, developers spend time investigating third-party APIs and mapping their terminology which can take 6-8 weeks. With the Digital Twin Definition Language and a shared ontology such as REC, Willow and 3rd party solutions exchange data in a language and format that the other already understand, which eliminates the need to develop custom connectors between the systems, saving time and reducing costs.
WillowTwin™ continues to embrace the Azure platform capabilities and our customers are seeing the benefits of having insights that allow them to make proactive, data-led decisions in real time, reducing expenses, growing profits, and better managing risk.