Microsoft is paving the way for digital twins for construction and real estate
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The digital twins for the smart building of the future are still under construction. But Microsoft is working to enable this cutting edge technology with a special ontology that works with its Azure Digital Twins Internet of Things (IoT) platform. Such capabilities bring smart buildings closer to reality.
An ontology is essentially a shared data model that simplifies the process of connecting applications in a particular domain, and it is one of the essential elements for developing digital twins.
“Microsoft is investing heavily to give our partners the technology and services they need to create digital twin solutions that support the new and existing needs of the world’s largest real estate portfolios,” said Tony Shakib, Managing Director of Microsoft Azure IoT.
This recent push in construction extends the usefulness of Microsoft’s Azure Digital Twins, released last year.
To gain a foothold in the field, Microsoft has partnered with RealEstateCore, a Swedish consortium of property owners, technology companies and research groups, to integrate these services with various industry standards. Creating a RealEstateCore Smart Building Ontology for Azure Digital Twins allows different parts of the construction markets (owners, construction teams, and suppliers) to collaborate and communicate on real estate.
This could accelerate the ability to weave IoT data, AI models, and analytics into digital twins, and help simplify the transition to sustainable and green innovation, currently one of the emerging venture capital sectors. fastest growing.
Accelerate digital transformation
Digital transformation has been slow to take hold in the construction and real estate markets. Microsoft believes that developing better standards and integrations could help accelerate this transformation. This is important if only because real estate is one of the largest asset classes in the world. In its recent update to the Global Building Stock Database, Guidehouse Insights predicts that building area will grow from around 166 billion square meters in 2020 to 196 billion square meters in 2030.
Building owners hope digital twins could help increase the value of their existing assets at a lower cost than building new ones.
But figuring out how to increase real estate asset value and net operating income is a complicated issue that encompasses issues of technology and change management, Shakib said.
This change is further complicated by the challenges of upgrading the capabilities of digital twins to existing building management systems. Shakib said many building management and automation vendors have attempted to limit buildings to custom, proprietary “walled garden” approaches that can harm customers in the long run.
Better ontologies could facilitate this transition. Such thinking was at the origin of the RealEstateCore Consortium, born out of a partnership between academia and industry. The consortium created the RealEstateCore ontology which used a graphical data model and built on years of best practices gleaned from the experience of large owners such as Vasakronan.
RealEstateCore can provide a gateway to various building industry standards such as Brick Schema, Project Haystack, W3C Building Topology Ontology (W3C BOT), and more. Today, different partners may have problems integrating applications using custom data formats. This is particularly relevant in construction, as there are huge traps associated with data loss in the stages of building design through construction, commissioning, handover and operation.
See a return
Enhanced digital twins promise a significant return on investment for building owners and operators. By improving categorization, integration, and data fidelity, digital twin developers can create better digital replicas of the physical buildings and the components they include.
Some of the early gains come from energy efficiency cost savings. Microsoft has explored these techniques on its campuses to achieve 20-30% energy savings. These projects can start by collecting data from existing building control systems to find improvements.
Microsoft’s Bonsai project was able to achieve an additional 10-15% savings by applying AI to further optimize controls. Ultimately, the efficient and interactive US Department of Energy buildings could help homeowners save even more by allowing their facilities to interact with the digital power grid in real time.
Beyond energy savings, there has been a growing interest in using digital twins to optimize building space, activate building equipment, and support various health and wellness scenarios at home. the aftermath of COVID. For example, RXR Realty uses Azure Digital Twins to combine building data with people counting, social distance detection, face mask detection, and air quality monitoring to provide an index of good. -being of the building. The proper ontology also allowed them to capture important metrics while respecting confidentiality and ethics.
Turning things into assets
Digital twins help a group of people make sense of the data highlighted by IoT devices. An ontology provides a set of models to wire them into a particular domain, such as a building structure, system, city, or energy grid.
An ontology can provide a starting point for organizing information to solve a problem that spans different roles, such as designers, builders, vendors, and operators. For example, a construction crew may need to know how to install a new radiator; a general contractor will want to know how long the installation will take, while the homeowner will want to know the appropriate maintenance schedule.
The built world is complex and the ontology of a smart building must seek to represent this complex reality in a way that is easy for developers to use. “An ontology must balance power and comprehensiveness with simplicity and ease of use to generate enough adoption,” Shakib said.
All major cloud providers have announced various types of IoT initiatives to help integrate sensors and actuators into new cloud applications. But Microsoft has been the only one to champion digital twins so far. The real value of digital twins is that they help decision makers define how their decisions about these IoT-related applications can be combined to impact real-world assets.
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