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Why Digital Twins are an Essential Technology for Real Estate Owners

September 2, 2022
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Read Time:
8
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Have you heard people talking about digital twins? This technology has become a popular topic of conversation for real estate owners in the last few months. There are multiple, practical reasons for that, one of which is that digital twins offer significant benefits for anyone who buys or sells real estate.

The original concept of the digital twin dates back to the 1960s, as a “living model” of the Apollo mission. This digital twin allowed for the continuous ingestion of data to model and analyze the events leading up to the Apollo 13 accident. Fast forward a half century and we can delve into the broad applications of digital twins. Once we have a working knowledge of the digital twin, we can discuss why this technology will become a staple for everyone involved in real estate.

What Are Digital Twins?

The term digital twin implies the nature of this technology, and its potential. In simple terms, a digital twin is a digital version of an object in the real world. This could be something like an engine or a farm, or it could be something much larger like a massive building or even a large city.

In addition to replicating physical materials, digital twins can make a copy of processes to create data. This data can be used to determine how select processes will perform in the future.

In a fashion similar to other computer programs, a digital twin takes data from the real world to create simulations that determine how a process, product, or another item will work in real-time. Many of the programs use technology from the Internet of Things (IoT), software analytics, and artificial intelligence to devise the best output.

As machine learning advances and we make progress with big data, virtual models such as digital twins have become an integral part of engineering, used as a tool to improve performance and spark innovation.

Digital twins can help prevent costly failures by building new structures and systems, while introducing the latest trends in technology. The culmination of test processes and services, monitoring and predictive capabilities, and advanced analytics creates a new digital option for every industry.

Digital twins will soon transition from concept to reality for everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are, what service you provide, or what network you are a part of. The digital twin acts as a digital form of a physical asset, which helps businesses understand, predict, and identify revenue sources by monitoring the asset’s performance.

Each digital twin, made of a 3D BIM model, data analytics, and the IoT, connects the physical to a digital model, so that processes can be modeled to ensure they are the best option. This alone provides a robust number of opportunities for people in real estate.

Digital Twins and the Real Estate Landscape

Digital twins are within the nascency of a new age, and have already created countless benefits for industries, including real estate. According to Gartner, about half of major industry companies will soon be employing digital twins to boost research and development efforts. Through the acceleration of innovative technologies being adapted into the real estate sector, real estate owners can take advantage of all these benefits.

This article is designed to provide information on why digital twins are useful in real estate and related organizations.

Why the Digital Twin?

When it comes to the real estate world, there currently isn’t a single reliable source that represents properties. Instead, there is a vertical value chain. This is broken down into several silos using all available data. The fragmentation often leads to extreme prices, does not prioritize the user, and isn’t a sustainable process in the long run.

Digital twins provide an outstanding way to create a reproducible lifecycle for real estate. When we use multiple silos, while working to attain specified benchmarks, we can only reproduce based on what we already know. The primary goal is to meet the expectation of the client or customer, which results in a stationary mindset.

People have been saying for years that the real estate sector needs profound change. If we want to make a bridge to the future while creating a better world for generations that come later, reinventing real estate is necessary. Many believe the digital twin is integral to that process.

The Benefits of Using Digital Twins in Real Estate

At this point, you may wonder why the owner of real estate would be compelled to have a digital version of their property profile when a physical building is available. It raises questions about whether the digital twin is useful for the future or just something that is a trend right now.

To give you some idea of the impact that digital twins could have, we’ll be sharing several reasons why real estate companies will want to create their own. 

Quicker Decision-Making

A digital twin is a tool used at the system level; it has a huge ‘brain’ as far as digital tools go. It’s powerful and capable of offering elevated performance and innovation for real estate companies. By implementing and using cloud-based solutions, many operational activities can be processed in a matter of seconds.

That isn’t the only way that a digital twin can help with speeding up decision-making. The twin is capable of accessing historical data and providing guidance. This can be used to create a benchmark for an entire portfolio of properties. All of these factors enable sound, efficient decisions with less user input.

Increased User Satisfaction

While a company might make decisions about its direction, that doesn’t mean that customers are not involved. Clients and customers are integral to the decisions and strategies that a company implements. Digital twins offer a way to stimulate new services offered to clients, enhancing the customer experience.

With people expecting a more personalized experience, individualized demand can be a part of the digital value network. This could lead to massive changes in real estate. Instead of creating the same finished product over and over, tailor-made customization will take place, increasing customer satisfaction.

Improved Design

Developing user concepts is the basis of creating a cross-functional design. This can be accomplished by using model-based systems engineering (MBSE). Various requirements, such as performance needs and user specifications, can be defined, verified, and then validated using the digital twin as a base. Once operational, the user's needs will become apparent.

Services can be developed, and components upgraded based upon user experience expectations. Plus, it’s a cinch to run “what-if” simulations on the twin, so you can change the layout, even while operating or while installing a new part. Simulations can offer distinct options to explore, so you can choose what works best.

Creation of More Efficient Processes

With the inclusion of the Internet of Things, services can enjoy massive insights that might not otherwise be available. Digital twins allow users at the maintenance and facility level to review multiple options quickly. This provides a high level of security in recommendations based on the asset's reliability or the object’s lifespan. 

The insights from IoT about the services, access, and maintenance needs can be optimized. As such, a digital twin creates more efficient and effective processes, resulting in cost savings for the real estate company. Matching IoT data with a digital twin lets you better understand how users interact with property. It’s a great way to improve over time based on usage insights.

Optimized Physical Use

Optimizing the physical property is also possible using digital twins. Insights are available at several levels. These include descriptive (about what has happened already), predictive (about what is likely to happen in the future), and prescriptive (based upon what will happen).

When the user patterns are merged with machine learning (ML), it’s easier to create a maintenance plan that is cost-effective using fewer actions, a remote setting, efficient labor use, and reduction of material and energy costs. Digital twins provide insight on predictive maintenance so issues can be preventatively addressed.

Positive Effects on Sustainability

Some of the things facilitated by the digital twin include the operation, manufacturing, and design processes. Throughout each stage, decisions must be made related to economic, social, and ecological sustainability. For example, the process of choosing materials throughout the life of a building affects sustainability.

Digital twins allow you to create a circular economy using raw materials. For example, choosing efficient logistics can reduce CO2 emissions. Linking user data to the twin often means that changes can be made to improve health and safety. Identifying problems in advance also ensures the ability to create societal value.

Stimulation of Innovation

A digital twin can function like a sandbox, using simulations before any activities ever take place on a physical level. For instance, a real estate owner could build a scenario or property and use testing simulations to identify areas of improvement, determine potential errors, and even gain insight on services that should be marketed.

Digital twins can be linked together with multiple external datasets. This provides a new ground to create innovative services and ensures an excellent and complete experience for users. The digital twin pushes the boundaries of holistic thinking, breeding open innovation.

Improved Communication

When the digital twin is used as the gateway to data, it offers real-time information and a total overview with ultimate transparency. Digitized design information can be used for construction, while technical data is useful for installation, performance, and material usage. IoT can help with machine data and real-time sensors.

Calculations can be made at remarkable speeds, which means any issues are quickly discovered. This leads to enhanced user experiences, durability, and safety. On top of that, digital twins are highly accessible, creating shared knowledge and co-creation across locations.

Transformed Mindset

The typical tenant's mindset can be transformed through digital twins to create a mentality that focuses on customers. When the property is considered holistically, people can move from a mindset of production, to one of service and social value, something that appeals to users.

While real estate is robust and static, the lifecycle is not. The digital twin offers a vast number of new opportunities for real estate owners and others in the industry. You can focus beyond how the asset is working at this moment to achieve larger objectives and meet goals. Predictive errors, conditional maintenance, and adaptive diagnostics are only part of that.

The Future of Digital Twins

Amazon Web Services recently announced the release of a digital twin creation tool for public use. AWS IoT Twin Maker is designed to help people create twins for production facilities, buildings, and industrial equipment.

The new Twin Maker will make it easier to build digital versions of real-world systems to get actionable data. While this is far from the only digital twin software, the Amazon cachet behind it shows that this is far from a trend that can be ignored. Now is the time to consider getting involved with digital twins, especially for anyone involved in real estate.


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