Digital Twin Technologies & the Future of the Built Environment | cA Weekly - Full Transcript
The following is a transcript of an episode of the commARCH Weekly Podcast Series. The full episode is available in video format on the commARCH site or in audio format on all major podcast platforms.
In this episode, commARCH has a dialogue with Jason Pelski of Johnson Controls, Robert Bray, of Autodesk, and Dan Isaacs, of the Digital Twin Consortium, to discuss the possibilities offered by new digital twin technologies to enhance the full pipeline of AEC projects.
Areas covered include: the challenges - and solutions - in implementing digital twin frameworks; developing cohesive ecosystems of interlocking digital threads to drive data-driven decision-making; and operational considerations for adopting digital twin technologies across a wide range of use cases.
Jason Pelski is Digital Platform Product Management Director at Johnson Controls, managing data-driven platforms like Johnson Controls' OpenBlue. A graduate of the university of Wisconsin, Pelski previously served in product roles with companies like Motorola, Tyco Security, and Microsoft.
Robert Bray is General Manager of Autodesk Tandem, incubating a new business initiative within Autodesk, with a mission to transform the built asset life cycle with digital twin technology and solutions. In his 23 years at Autodesk, Bob has served in several critical product development roles and has led the product development of BIM360 design and Autodesk InfraWorks. Bob holds a BS in computer science from the University of Missouri.
Dan Isaacs is CTO at Digital Twin Consortium, where he is responsible for setting the technical direction, liaison partnerships, and support for new memberships. Previously, Dan was Director of Strategic Marketing and Business Development at Xilinx and represented Xilinx for the Industrial Internet Consortium or IIC. He has more than 25 years of experience working in automotive, mil/aero and consumer-based companies, including Ford, NEC, LSI Logic, and Hughes Aircraft.
Thank you for joining us this week - let's hop into the podcast.
cA: Thanks for joining commARCH and myself for this weekly podcast. Before we get into what we're going to talk about, with the digital twins, why don't we go around and just say your name, company - just give a little profile, so everybody has some context as we fire through some questions.
Jason, want to go first?
Jason Pelski: Sure, yeah. So I'm Jason Pelski, I'm from Johnson Controls. I'm the director of our digital platform, which includes digital twin. And that also includes our Edge IOT platform as well. I'm responsible for strategy, product development, partnerships across our various verticals - predominantly smart buildings, healthcare, and venues and data centers.
cA: I just want to jump on that for a second - you're also incredibly engaged with your clients. You have a - a high percentage of your time is really understanding what the market needs.
JP: Yeah. There's really no playbook for the next evolution of digital twins. And so we're really assessing what customers need, what they want, how they're trying to drive ROI, and how they're looking to take their digital transformation to the next turn.
cA: Yeah, good, good. Bob, you're with a company that certainly knows about that.
Robert Bray: Yeah. Bob Bray, I am the General Manager of Autodesk tandem, which is a digital twin offering for Autodesk, really targeted at the AEC space. Been with Autodesk for probably 24 years, always serving customers in the AEC space, very passionate about data. Like Jason, really deeply engaged with a core set of customers around understanding market needs and really trying to build a product that brings a little bit of repeatability to this idea of digital twin, as opposed to each twin being a bespoke creation.
cA: Which warrants an association, a group of innovators. So Dan, would you introduce yourself?
Dan Isaacs: Yeah, thanks Dean. My name is Dan Isaacs. I am the CTO for the Digital Twin Consortium. This is a global consortium that is member driven. It's been around since mid-May of last year, and it's just had a tremendous growth and we continue to see that on a weekly, if not sometimes, even on a daily basis, in terms of members joining in, and the cross-collaboration that we have within both our membership, as well as through our liaisons and a regional branch organizer.
cA: I was just reviewing before we got on this - a survey that we haven't completed yet, but for a technology company, and what we were asking was for architects and owners and developers and general contractors and others, just... when you're bringing in a new technology, what are some of the hurdles?
And some of it, I thought, was really relevant to this. And frankly, some of it surprised me too. So I'm going to bring some of that up while we're talking, because it's really fresh on my mind and what the audience is thinking about.
So, looking at the built environment, what are some problems - inefficiencies - that this group, right now, and who you represent are really focused on addressing. Bob?
RB: Sure, I'll start. I think, if you look at the industry in particular, we've built great tools to help the industry build really rich models, but the industry still likes to take those models and flatten them down to paper. And then the next phase of the life cycle - or the next phase of the project - is recreating data from paper.
So getting more data continuity or that digital thread, as we like to call it in the digital twin world, flowing through the life cycle, starting with early stage design. So that at handover you have a rich asset model that you can use as a basis of a digital twin. It's one of those key things that we're focused on right now.
And I think the benefits of that downstream are twofold. One: start digital, keep the data digital, and obviously that helps data flow with some continuity through the life cycle. But then also, be able to connect the operational solutions to sensors to understand occupancy and eventually be able to use the data you're collecting to inform the future of design and make. Being able to design and build better in the future.
cA: It's interesting. You brought up some really important points too, is that... professionals are used to doing things in a certain way, and they're taking the data and, like you said, outputting paper and then recreating it. And it requires everybody involved to say, “Yes, we're eliminating this step."
And as a result, we're going to have a multiple of value to the work we've done. So for Johnson Controls, being a supplier - an important supplier - and also a member of this, how do you see all that fitting together, where you're making people comfortable and really realizing the value of letting go of past habits?
JP: Yeah. Bob talked about the digital thread of the digital twin and, you know, that's really important, whether you're in the design twin phase, which is the greenfield construction and you're moving into the operate, or you're already in the operate - our customers expand both.
We're seeing a lot more, I would say, digital twin interests and investment and the start of new construction and being able to help customers move from the design to the operate, so that when that building is, you know, go live and it's opened, it's able to operate at the most efficient performance, whether that be across the energy systems such as the HVAC systems and the controls, whether it be across the healthy building systems, which is the IAQ - indoor air quality - people counting the IOT devices that are helping to create those healthy environments - clean air, as I mentioned, indexes - and then, know, also into productivity now.
So a lot of interest in how you take that digital twin and thread of systems, of how customers and clients and employees interact with the building, whether it be an employee or field service that's coming to service equipment. And so the digital twin we see as the fabric - the thread - to weave all that together and provide better operational performance, better sustainability over the life of the life cycle of the as-built environment, and the optimization of the building in general.
They have a 3-30-300 model that most facility managers and operational managers operate under. That is: a company spends about $3 on energy, $30 on operating a building, and about $300 on productivity and employees. So the more that you can impact the - obviously energy is very critical for sustainability - but the bigger focus for us, and from our customers, has mostly been predominantly on the building operations and the productivity. And so you're starting to see a lot of those requests come from customers and that demand.
cA: Slam me if I'm way off on this, but is your engagement in this also so that way your customers, clients - however we want to term, because I know you have long-term relationships with them - that they see the real value, and get the value out of what you're providing as an organization that by not doing this, they're probably going to miss. They're only going to use a percentage of what you're really offering.
JP: Yeah, absolutely. We want to make sure all our customers have the best tools available for meeting their return on investment. We serve various stakeholders across that as-built environment - you know, facility managers, tenants, owners, operators, and employees as well.
And so, making sure that they're leveraging all aspects of those domains within the building, and stitching that digital thread across - what Bob talked about - the tools that Autodesk provides to be able to bring the building live, but then, working to cross that chasm into the operational space and then ensure that we have the productivity, the optimization, the service, space utilization, sustainability, all that covered as well, and ensure that data is reused efficiently across those domains.
cA: Which is powerful. Then Johnson Controls wins as well because the end users are realizing the value - the full value - of what you're offering.
JP: Correct. And this is where the Digital Twin Consortium comes into play as well, because as digital twins mature - even right now, there's different definitions, so to speak, within different verticals of what a digital twin is. In the AEC market, they define it as the BIM, you know, but that's really evolving.
And so the Digital Twin Consortium is helping to define some of that, with the partnerships that they bring in. And of course, we're leveraging t
So there's lots of industry reports and things that will talk about, while there's 90 different types of digital twins out there. For us, we might be tapping into maybe 10 of those - supply chain twins, anything related to the aura of the building, that touches the building, that will become a twin. And we want to make sure that we're compatible with that. And so that's another thing that Consortium brings - not to speak for Dan - but it's important for us.
cA: To Dan - Dan's role right now is essential for a gamut of reasons. Anybody could say they're offering digital twin technology and that's not going to help. There has to be standards. There has to be a group of all different parties involved to ensure this is a success. Is that...?
DI: Absolutely. I think one of the things touching on a little bit earlier is, in terms of one of the challenges, is the interoperability. And looking at it from not just simply the asset itself, where it's more viewed as atomic or discrete, but you look at it from the standpoint of a composite and then the composite composite, you get into a system of systems.
And how do you ensure that interoperability? I think earlier, to another point that you had, we're looking to really build and drive that ecosystem and demonstrate the value. So Digital Twin Consortium is not only about the awareness of digital twin and enabling technologies, it's also about driving that adoption. And through our variety, now we're up to eight different working groups.
We really have opportunity here to bring the collective best practices and the knowledge base - as Jason was talking about, and Robert - bring those together from the overall ecosystem perspective, and really leverage that across the different areas to really compliment each other.
And through that, we build a series - we're driving that adoption. We're also within the Consortium putting together and compiling a reference library of use cases and case studies, implementations. So we can really showcase those best practices, the thought leadership and the innovation that the collective membership, can bring to bear.
And certainly with the breadth and the depth and the knowledge base of our steering committee, as well as with our membership, there really is no consortium out there like this that's focused around digital twin and driving this adoption.
RB: That notion of the federated twin is really important, right? Because if you think about it, you may have a twin of a machine. That machine is part of a process floor on a factory. Well, that's also a twin of that process floor. That process floor and that process sits inside a factory. That factory is actually part of the campus.
Some of the conversations that we've had, for example is, we're building a really sustainable building and we want this building that's producing energy to be able to share energy with the other buildings around it. The only way to enable that is to have this federated ecosystem of twins.
cA: And to your point, it takes the gambling out of it, if you would. You know, that we're making assumptions - you're not making assumptions, you have fact based information streaming continually through the experience.
JP: Data driven decisions, right?
RB: Yeah. Correct.
DI: And it's also the fact that you have the historical data, the continual data, situational awareness, event intelligence, right at this given point in time, through the real-time updates. But then you can also use that combined to basically give you that crystal ball, run these different "what if" scenarios to simulate models and predict the future, and be able to have those all ready depending on the different types of events that occurred.
cA: Yeah, that's a great point. So the cost savings is it is enormous, as long as you calculate it out. But as long as you embrace the procedures and change your habits, all those things, then you have exponential benefits. And I'm thinking, after the pandemic when we're watching buildings and what kind of usage even more, this is essential.
DI: And also as was brought up earlier - I think it was Jason - about the supply chain management. And using a digital twin because of the five V's of data - the velocity, the veracity, the volume - there is really no other way to manage that. And this scales from a smart building, all the way up to smart cities, how do you manage all that data? How do you understand that? And that's where a digital twin is essential.
cA: Outstanding. From research, conversations - and I think a lot of this, you already know, I think everybody knows - is there's reluctance on putting an investment into technology because past technology investments or ones they heard about from others - or other companies they worked at - never were fully embraced or realized.
Also there's that. "Well, I don't have experience with digital twins. Who's going to train me? Who's going to make me comfortable in this process? Who's going to choose who's the right one for us and set us up and make sure our day-to-day it's monitoring?
What are your thoughts?
RB: One of the things we're seeing, Dean, is: across the board, our larger AEC customers are all seeing this as opportunity - an opportunity to change their practices - but an opportunity to deliver more value to their clients. Build those deeper, longer, meaningful relationships with their clients.
And so to some degree, in my experience, yes, I'm working with owners, but I'm also working with the AEC ecosystem because they see opportunity both for new business models for them, new opportunities for them, but an opportunity to really educate downstream and really work closer with their clients.
And I think that's a big part of this, is it's an evolution of the AEC ecosystem, as we know it right now.
cA: What makes an architect and owner-developer comfortable in committing not only the financial side, but committing, as an organization, to one approach.
RB: I don't think they'll ever commit to one approach. These firms are all large and they'll pick their approach based on the needs of their client. And there's never typically one approach to anything in this industry, I think we all know that. But I think they'll pick a mix of approaches that work well for them and work well for their clients.
And those are the approaches that they will take based on project type, the maturity of the owner in that space and their acceptance and readiness for it. So I think it'll vary, but each client will take a mix of approaches, I think.
cA: For the clients, though, they would have to first understand, "Okay, this is of value," and they have to also be curious. But I think we're fortunate in our industry, that it's filled with curious people. We're always reinventing things - which reinforces the different approaches -,but we have a group that's always evolving, right?
RB: The AEC industry is definitely full of innovators.
The other thing I would say is that they're also starting to see requirements from owners. It may not say, "I need a digital twin," but it says, "I want to be able to understand the occupant experience in this facility. I want to be able to make sure this building is LEED certified. It's sustainable in these ways, it's hitting these objectives."
There's also requirements coming into AEC firms that are really pushing them in this direction. And like I said, it may not be spelled out in the RFP as digital twin, but it really is asking for that.
DI: That's what we're hearing, also. There's government regulations that are coming into place that are really driving a lot of this. Well, what else can I do? How can I offset the carbon footprint penalties I'm going to be having coming up because of new regulations, and being able to bring alternatives into that?
We have some of our members looking at exactly doing that, where they're looking at buildings as batteries, effectively, to help to reduce those. Using alternative resources to generate that power, that they're going to be doing that.
Well, if they look at that across a series or a complex of buildings, the only way to manage that is through an active - through a digital twin - to do that active management, to do that load balancing, to do the control and understand, because the digital twin gives you that holistic understanding, all the different aspects of that
cA: Right. There are a lot of organizations that are going to be like, "Yeah, I agree. Everything you said is right." And we know that RFPs are sometimes dream pieces more than reality, where they're saying, okay, this is what we want, but when it really comes down to it, do they choose - it might be an even different criteria, ultimately.
JP: Yeah. And I would actually argue, to Bob's point. RFPs are the trendsetters for what the industry is, coming down the pipe. You have early adopters and they are calling out for digital twins in RFPs. You can tell they're the ones. And they usually have one or two specific use cases. It could be around energy, it could be around IAQ - which, post-COVID, most of them all include some type of indoor air quality metric and building health metric, healthy building metric, so to speak.
So, one: I think that's important that this is real, where it's real from a customer perspective, because it has hard ROI behind it. And so there's no doubt about that.
The second piece that you were asking before, Dean, was what is the approach? Like what does a company look for if they want to start - they're not maybe the early adopter, and they don't have the resources to go invest, but they know they need it because they want that ROI.
And there's a couple of pieces to that that are important to understand, because digital twins rely on data. And the data's has got to come - typically, let's just say, come from the edge, just generalizing. The edge of the building are the systems, the IOT sensors, the plethora of sensors that are through the building, across everything from the HVAC, security, lift systems, controls, IOT systems, and even IT systems themselves are all a part of that. And more and more is coming into that bucket. And, so, one: you have to have a good edge sensorization in place.
Some of the older systems are okay, but they don't have the - I always think of it as like the ODB-II sensor for your car, right? The newer cars tell you everything that's going on with the car, the older cars, not so much. And so it's kind of like plugging in that ODB-II sensor to tell you what's going on with the car, like for a building, that's the way I kind of explain digital twins sometimes, in their simplistic form. Because you're plugging in - the more sensors you have, the more that you can use for data analysis, which is really where the twin shines, because it's about data ontologies, the schema, how the data is organized.
So you're breaking it out of silos and to, into systems and machine learning and AI that can process that and give you a very simple, predictive, explanation of what's happening, so you can take action. And so, to answer the question, you need someone that really can span the gap that does all of it because what's happening - we've seen some areas not do so well - is you have point solutions out in the industry today, right? You have one company just hardcore focused on edge IOT. And so a company that spans the - traverses - the entire ecosystem of that component is who you really want to rely on, particularly in the early days, to bridge it all together.
And as standards evolve and the interoperability gets better and better, then you'll see the systems come together and be able to more plug-and-play.
cA: What you just said, I just I feel obligated to go a little deeper on - let me explain.
It could be interpreted, "Okay, this is evolving. And here's the vision we talk about very comfortably, but actually the execution is down here." Can we clarify that? So everyone understands that, no, this is a lot safer than 20 years ago putting in a network system into your company, or...
JP: In technology, cloud native technologies help with that. You know, I call it the old PSIM days, where everything was on-prem, nothing was in the cloud, and it was still siloed. Everyone worked in their own silos. You can't operate in that model anymore. And it's not the best investment for your dollar to do that either.
So you want to bring all that data to the cloud, unify it, so the same sensor that's used for one component of the building can be used across other domains, not just for security, right? Not just for an HVAC, so that you're utilizing that across all the domains and be able to extract more ROI value for that one installed sensor that was originally intended to do one thing. That's what I was referring to.
cA: I just want to really be so clear on that because we want a lot of early adopters, right?
JP: Absolutely. Obviously, you want as many early adopters as possible.
But in terms of how to do it, it's - the point I'm trying to make is: established partners, established toolsets - whether from companies like Autodesk or others that can fulfill, that are thinking about digital twins - companies like, of course, Johnson Controls that can bring it together across the umbrella is obviously the, in my opinion, the least riskiest approach, particularly for the larger customers.
cA: Big brands throwing their resources against it.
Dan - so tell us about that. Who's really putting a push on this to ensure it is fully utilized and it embraced at the speed it should be?
DI: Yeah. I don't think it's just one company, per se, and certainly one, one segment. It really is that combination. And, it gets back to, a rising tide lifts all boats. You get to the point where, through this ecosystem, you're able to find the opportunities to collaborate and to learn and then continue to innovate and bring that thought leadership to the floor where people say, "Wow, we didn't realize that capability was there. Or you were that mature in those areas."
Now maybe there's an area where we can leverage that and cross-collaborate. And we've seen that with many of our members, working with the industry leaders, working with our steering committee members and joining forces to bring that forward and that opens up many different doors. And that's one of the biggest things that we've been seeing within this consortium, is while we have domain-focused working groups, there are technologies across those different domains, and people that are innovating and bringing leadership forward, that they're able to leverage and work together in a collaborative environment, reality capture.
We've talked about all this data. How do you visualize that data? How do you actually get access to that data? Whether it's the augmented reality, whether it's virtual reality, mixed reality, the different types of sensors, and then how do you analyze that to gain that actionable insight, that critical information to make those more informed decisions, to make those smarter decisions in a more timely manner.
And so we see several of these different areas. In fact, we're through publishing white papers. We are opening, as I said, our technology showcases. That one example of buildings as a battery, that has about 12 different members involved in those different areas, in those different aspects, bringing together that. I was talking about alternative resources, so there's expertise there. There's the distribution of that. There's the control of that. There's synchronization - how do you align that? There's bringing in from an overall smart grid perspective, if you want to have charge coming back onto that grid, say, from electric vehicles, how do you do that? How do you manage that?
So all of these different aspects are there. And then even taking that beyond there, there's opportunities: it's either solar or it's wind or it's geothermal. It could be hydro, you know, wind turbines in the ocean, right? And we have members that are doing that.
We have members that are working directly with some of the industry leaders again and from edge to cloud all the way through, in terms of being able to adopt that. It's through these use cases that you recognize the value. And once that starts, the market becomes much more open.
cA: So you have all that. A member of our audience is like, "Okay, I get it. But I could read all this stuff, but I don't know how to implement. I don't know what-"
cA: What people am I dropping into my organization, either as a consultant, or a full employee - or employees, as a group - that are going to help carry me through. And I would go a little bit deeper, you know that the IT department is always known for cynicism and breaking up like, ah, this doesn't work and that doesn't work. So do you bring in someone who has experience with digital twins already, saw how it works, or is it just somebody who has all the basic skills and they're open-minded and they want to learn today based on today's facts.
DI: So again, that's another unique opportunity within the consortium is we have not only the technology providers, not only the researchers, and the academia, even local governments, we also have the end users. And it brings that collective experience, that knowledge - one of our members says, "We got brought into a company" and they said, "We just want to know what event is occurring, the condition monitoring. It's reactive, purely reactive."
I said, "Okay, we can show you exactly what's happening and why it happened, but we can also help you to understand how to prevent the unplanned downtime or the situation where you're not able to get the results you're expecting."
They said, "Well, that's interesting." And they said, "Okay, let's find out, what job do you want to hire the digital twin for?" And from that perspective, you work backwards. It's not from what type of sensors do you have? What kind of data do I have? It's, what is the problem you're trying to solve? What is the outcome you're trying to achieve?
And then based on that, let's work backwards and say, what data do you have available? What type of analytics are you necessarily looking at? You may not need artificial intelligence, maybe pure algorithmic machine learning, you're fine with that. So we have through these use cases and case studies, we're able to create these guidelines. And that's one of the objectives of the Digital Twin Consortium, is not only the awareness, the adoption, but also to guide these positive outcomes through these lessons learned in these experiences.
cA: Great. Bob and Jason, okay.
Two different groups - owners and developers, and then architects - what's a persona that they should hire or create within their organization today. What's your recommendation of who do I drop in or reallocate, that's going to get me started down the right path?
RB: I think, from an owner's perspective - and I'll take it from an owner's perspective, because all of this should be really driven from what the owners are trying to achieve from an outcome perspective. And I was going to jump in with Dan there a minute ago, but I think an owner really needs to look at three things.
One: making sure they have the right infrastructure for data sharing. Having some data centric talent. I don't mean a guy that can administer a database. People that can look across their silos of data and stand out or correlate data and get insight from data. And then the third piece that I think is critical for success is really looking at their ecosystem of suppliers.
Their JCIs - their contractors on the AEC side - and building a more collaborative structure for working with them in a more trusting environment to help the data flow through that ecosystem to really achieve the goals they want to achieve.
And it really does, as Dan said, start with, what objectives are they trying to achieve? Making sure they understand what data they need to achieve those objectives, and then working backwards from there to figure out, okay, now how do I implement this?
cA: Very logical, totally agree. That's where I'm going though, is how do I identify the type of individual or individuals I need that will ensure my success down this path?
Because I've already bought on conceptually. You said data, and that kind of open-mindedness, being able to put things to get a very creative brain with data of saying, oh, wait, we have this here. That'll help inform here.
RB: Data analysts, data scientists. I think that's an important persona in this. I don't know - Jason, what thoughts do you have?
JP: From an operate side, you look at the stakeholders, right? You got the owners, facility managers, the occupants, field service techs, security operations. In reality, in a perfect world, the tools that they're buying should work together. You shouldn't have to have a data scientist, unless you want to run your own, build your own models. But a data analyst for every building doesn't make sense.
JP: And so, theoretically, you shouldn't have to change too much. In a perfect world, the current roles and responsibilities that those stakeholders do. It will evolve, to morph into where the ROI value in what you're trying to accomplish. But I think, to Bob's point, if you're looking across a - and we have various customers I work with that do have data analysts that just manage lots of buildings. But their job is essentially doing what the digital twin is going to do. And it is going to offset some of those resources. If it doesn't, then you're doing it wrong. And therefore you should have one or two people looking at the data.
It's the push versus pull I referred to. They should be sitting there and getting all this information in a sanitized, noise-reduced view of what's going on in their building and making decisions quickly and accurately. Or even, eventually, based on recommendations that the system is going to tell them what to do.
That's the goal of an operational digital twin, in our view. The longer-term goal is truly to get to the autonomous building of the future, right? You have this data, it becomes synthesized, you rely on it, models and AI that are constantly using it with without too much human intervention and making predictions, calling their own service, doing all that. So the body of the building itself is running - three quarters of the actions that are done today by a physical person is becoming automated. That's the vision for the future. And the only way to get there from, from our perspective, is to have that digital thread built in a way that compounds itself to build that vision for the customer.
RB: And I think you need people that understand what data needs to feed into that digital thread and then how to best leverage that data to achieve the outcomes they're trying to achieve. And that's where I was going with the data-centric talent, is that's the talent pool that you need, is people that understand data at that level.
DI: It's the subject matter experts.
cA: This is either going to resonate or not, so I'm taking a little bit of a risk in saying this. My opinion on green building was always, you have the advocates in the beginning, but success means green building is no longer even talked about, it's just how we behave. Is that the same thing as this? We need those advocates in the beginning, but understand your role is going to be absorbed by the technology.
RB: That's one dimension. Green building is absolutely one dimension, but there's many other dimensions in terms of indoor air quality, energy consumption, carbon emissions is one piece, but there's occupant safety, there is indoor air quality. There's many other dimensions to this that go beyond just green building.
cA: What I'm saying is green building is an example of change innovation. And the early adoption, that the success means - and I'm sorry to say this - Dan's going to - thankfully we're on Zoom (Laughter) - but what success would mean Dan's group evolves into maybe standards or something else into a very different play than it is today.
Does that make sense?
DI: I think you're seeing a natural evolution and that's already occurring, where people were looking at how they would take this approach. And now it's digital twins. And now how can I combine those? How can I bring that out of the reactive mode based on the data into that more prescriptive and, eventually, autonomous mode and it will continue to evolve.
And to that point, I will say that you know, the Digital Twin Consortium will have done its job. It will have helped to have driven that and really brought that forward in the values. And it will go onto the next phase of that. And we're already starting to see that evolution.
JP: Yeah. I think from my perspective - again, I don't come from the AEC side of the business, but I've been working in that dimension from an operate perspective, working with various folks like Autodesk and Bob, et cetera. There's a huge impetus to design and there's no reason - and they're already, Autodesk is already starting to do this - design every aspect of the building in virtual reality.
And I don't just mean the building. I mean those sensors, the simulation of how the building is going to operate in the future. And from that, all of a sudden you get perspectives that influence the design of the building, right? Hey, I want to tweak this. I want to do that. That from my understanding is a big pain point for the AEC industry, architects, et cetera.
You know, if I'm sitting with my HoloLens or whatever augmented reality, and I'm in the building working, I'm a contractor or I'm installing video management systems or HVAC systems or security systems or pedestals, all the things that are typically in the building that you either go through, touch, or interact with, now all of a sudden you can plan all that and make changes to the building and not have the extra cost of having to change it afterwards.
But you can, there's a whole chain of reaction of processes that actually kick off from everything from zoning, coding, et cetera, to operational efficiencies, traffic patterns - right now, all of a sudden we live in a COVID, post-COVID world and space utilization and distance is important. If I'm getting 500 people on a train in a train depot, how does that change?
So you can imagine if someone is operating a building for 30 years for a customer, you want to make sure it's the most efficient building possible upfront. And that's where I think this is all going from the perspective and lens of an AEC architect.
cA: So as we're coming to conclusion of this, I think the three of you have done a really nice job of expressing the value of what all this means to all the stakeholders.
What are 2, 3, 4 things that the audience should act on right now in order to take advantage of what they just learned. Okay. I know this is right. What do I do?
DI: I'll speak from the consortium perspective and that's really to get started. You view feel, for some reason, now I know this is right, this is the path I want to follow. Get started, get involved. Take a look. If you haven't come and looked at the website for the Consortium, take a look and understand what the Consortium is all about and understand what the opportunities are through the collaboration.
I keep talking about the collective knowledge base, the levels of expertise, the breadth, the depth of that knowledge and the thought leadership and the innovation. And that's why - we encourage that. And so really look at that and consider joining.
cA: Would we say step one is: go to the website, explore the information and know that there's a strong group - all different parties, not just one agenda-
cA: -a lot of agendas that have ensured that you're getting the full picture of what you're getting into.
DI: And look at some of the collateral that's been generated. Look at some of the webinars from the infrastructure group, from the white paper that's been released on the maturity model and understanding that. Recognize where you can fit in, that there is a place for that.
cA: What's step two? All right. I just went to the website. I just joined. This is great. Now what do I do?
RB: Step two for me is - once you understand some basis and some background - is start pragmatically. Find a client that has a mutual interest and start with a single set of problems, a small set of problems, and understand how to solve those and really build from there. The best way to do this is to start pragmatically. Don't try and say, I'm going to go implement a digital twin - it's going to solve every problem under the sun. Pick a problem or two and start there and then start to evolve over time and broaden that capability and that breadth.
cA: So step two, identify organizations that you have a relationship with. Then you can put together a team that can really take advantage of this.
RB: And start pragmatically.
JP: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Piloting, POC, whatever you want to call it. That's typically how a lot of our customers start. And then, that just snowballs into, okay, I got it. Now I have the business case for why I wanted to go work with that point solution provider and put all those sensors in, right? Now, I have the business case for why I need a centralized data repository, and maybe have that ability to store data in a public cloud environment that's not PII sensitive.
So there's a whole kind of a laundry list of things and all of a sudden a building facility manager -whoever's kicking off the project - is now taking on a very important role within the overall building lifecycle for the other constituents in the building as well, and those other domains, because now all of a sudden you're putting the roadmap in place for how you're going to go from your traditional operating model to one where you're starting to reap these, ROI values of 50% sustainability, 35% optimization. There's tons of white papers out there that have lots of different numbers in them, but they all are exponentially better than what they are without the technology.
cA: So if I'm a facility
JP: Bingo. That's how the COO got there. Because if you look at some of the history, they were a facility manager. So they took that leap. They, at that point in time, whatever that role was, and they took the leadership.
And we're in that inflection point now with digital twins. It's going to be a huge opportunity for people that can buy in, see the vision, sell it internally, and then be able to implement it and execute it and find the right partners to do that with.
cA: So they're not being replaced by technology, actually - because of technology, their value will be even more exposed.
DI: Absolutely. And that's a great thing - one of our members basically says, we don't do proof of concept. We're not interested in that. We do proof of value. And those proof of value then move into these pilot programs - that are not proof of concepts again, because that's throw-away, that's just to demonstrate - this is a proof of value that then moves to pilot, which is really getting into the level to go preproduction and then be able to monetize across many different areas.
cA: Okay. I have a final question and I want an answer for each of you, if you would. For our audience, what should they be afraid of by not engaging right now with what's going on with digital twins? Because the fear of screwing up is probably, you know, always there, but what's even bigger than that?
DI: Not starting.
RB: Being left behind.
DI: Yep. If you're outside looking in, you're not going to be ever able to achieve that leadership position. You're going to be a follower - and you could be a fast follower. Sure, that's great. But you're not going to be that innovator demonstrating that thought leadership.
cA: I think you said on that is that you're going to have to do catch-up with your buildings then.
RB: If you're an owner you're doing catch-up. If you're an AEC firm, you're losing business, because it's the AEC firms that invest in this early, that are going to win the most business. It's the owners that invest in this earlier that are going to have the most optimal buildings that occupants want to occupy that businesses want to lease space in. So it's losing business at the end of the day as the result of not jumping in.
JP: Yeah. I mean, there's white papers out there that say a smart building adds 10 to 18% more value when it's resold. There's a lot of variables to that, but the point is the ROI is there, no doubt about that, you just have to find where you want to start, based on what your particular internal policies and focus areas are.
In general buildings make up 40% of the total greenhouse gases globally. I think we all have a part to play in making sure that we're energy efficient and ensuring that the people that are in that building are safe, they're cared for, they have great clean air. Those are all things that, as a building owner, occupier, or more importantly, an operator, that you should be delivering to your customers. So, I'll leave it at that.
DI: You're benefiting the owners, you're benefiting the tenants, you're benefiting environment with these smart buildings and with this capability.
cA: Okay, I'm going to throw something out as we're closing on this, is that what I'm hearing - at least I'm interpreting - is you don't have to do a scramble if you're flipping a building. It's all right there. And one of the classics is you take over for someone else and you always tell your boss how the other person's sucked. You can't really do that with this. Because everything is facts.
JP: It's risk that usually ends up pushing out schedules and things like that. And we didn't really talk about risk a lot, that's another thing that's eventually going to come from a digital twin because the more that you can do upfront and play out those scenarios and simulate, the less risk that you bear on the backend. At least hypothetically that's what should happen. And, we're starting to see the early indications of that, which is just another added value layer on top of everything else we've talked about.
cA: Great. All of you, so wonderful. Thank you. I think - actually, I don't think, I know - this was a very significant exchange and will help move us forward. So thank you.
JP: Thank you. (Overlapping)
RB: Thanks for having us today. (Overlapping)
DI: Thanks for the opportunity. (Overlapping)
cA: Take care, all the best. More conversations ahead, hopefully! Take care.
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