The real estate sector has been implementing digital twins to uncover value during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to global real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).
A digital twin can use advanced data analysis and artificial intelligence to constantly learn about a specific facility. This provides key insights on how to better manage the building and its equipment.
Originally developed for the aerospace industry in the 1960s, digital twins are expanding their footprint across industries due to improved Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, modeling and other technologies. The industry is projected to be worth $35.8 billion in 2025, compared to $3.8 billion in 2019, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets.
JLL also noted that the team at MIT’s Real Estate Innovation Lab says the benefits of digital twins for the commercial real estate industry are many, including management of building occupancy, increased budget reliability and faster delivery in the construction realm.
According to Jim Whittaker, engineering services lead at JLL, the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating adoption, particularly in the built environment, where it’s now critical for building owners to rethink how their properties are used and managed.
“Objective and credible data has always been needed to make decisions on property portfolios and inform investment decisions,” Whittaker said. “But, agile, scalable, and dynamic workplaces are needed now more than ever. Digital twins support these requirements by providing the data and visualizations needed to make more rapid and flexible decisions,” he added.
Following months of lockdowns, many organizations are still maintaining a remote work mandate for employees with uncertainty around the return to the office.
With so much vacant space, digital twins are helping owners keep tabs on their buildings, using data from newly implemented technologies.
“We have installed IoT sensors, gateways and remote monitoring software applications to reduce the need for on-site staff or truck rolls at sites that have been mothballed or where staffing has been highly reduced,” Whittaker says.
One of those application is JLL’s IntelliCommand, a commissioning platform that helps proactively identify problems and anomalies that often go undetected in buildings.
As organizations begin to plan their return to shared workspaces, their top priority is employee safety in line with changed spatial regulation. This includes modifying or adjusting seats, furniture and workstations where possible to maintain social distancing of six feet between employees.
Digital twins play a key role in supporting the technologies needed to ensure employees are maintaining these regulations, JJL said.