By Dave Clifton
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a massive concept. For most companies, it’s easier to contextualize it against the framework of their facilities. Smart buildings include sensors, beacons, and hubs—all of which capture data and facilitate automation. There’s also the software and processes that connect these data streams to action. And while most of this is easy to contextualize, where many companies get lost is with the introduction of digital twins.
What is digital twin in IoT? In simplest terms, it’s the place where all the data from IoT devices comes together. In an age of de-siloed workplace data, the digital twin is where data from across the workplace flows freely together. It gives companies and accurate, relevant, realistic picture of their facilities, through the eyes of IoT data streams.
What is digital twin technology?
Digital twins are a digital representation of the physical workplace and everything in it. What makes them useful is their dynamism, thanks to the IoT. The best way to explain the digital twin is akin to a data lake.
Picture a motion sensor in a conference room. When someone triggers the sensor and it sends a signal, where does that signal go? For companies with a digital twin, it connects to the corresponding part of the building on the digital model. If that motion sensor detects movement, it triggers the I/O signal, which appears as “occupied” on the digital twin.
But that’s only one half of the digital twin’s usefulness.
Now, consider the activity-facing aspect of that data. If Malik, Roberta, and Miriam need to book space, they’ll log into the building’s space reservation system. That system ties into the digital twin as well—only instead of pushing data to the twin, it pulls data from it. The room with the active motion sensor shows as occupied in the digital twin, which means the booking software won’t show it as an option for the group.
Digital twins are an intermediary that connects the many inputs of workplace data to the many applications companies have for it. It goes beyond desk booking, too. Digital twins and the data they de-silo are useful for everything from asset maintenance to space optimization.
How digital twins simplifies IoT
The role of a digital twin in simplifying the IoT is invaluable for companies—especially as they build out their network of data-producing connected devices. The more data streams there are, the more insights about the workplace there are. The only problem is that all these streams need to point somewhere to be accessible. That destination is increasingly becoming a digital twin.
Digital twins act as both a repository for data and a place to contextualize it. Because connected data maps to the same digital destination as its physical counterpart, there’s inherent order and structure in a twin. And, because everything points to the same place (the twin), it’s easy to integrate software, apps, and processes to the same repository to deploy that data. Instead of multiple sources of data, digital twins are a source of truth: a true representation of de-siloed workplace data.
Many sources feed into a digital twin. Many sources pull from it. At the center of everything is one, complete repository for data. There’s no better way to simplify the increasingly more complex nature of the office IoT.
The role of digital twin software
If the digital twin manages the ebb and flow of workplace data, who manages the digital twin? That task falls to facility managers, asset managers, and other facility-focused professionals. To get a handle on digital twins and their exponential capabilities, companies need to invest in high-quality digital twin software and the training that enables utilization of it.
Digital twin software makes accessing and integrating systems with the twin easier. On the data collection side, it establishes the protocol for accepting IoT sensor data and contextualizes that trigger. On the data access side, it makes data freely available to flow into connected apps, programs, and processes. In the middle, when it comes to the de-siloed data itself, digital twin software needs to provide information modeling personnel with a 1,000-foot view of facilities and everything happening in them—in real-time, if possible.
The unequivocal role of digital twin software is to bridge the gap between form and function, intention and execution. It collects data from the workplace and makes it accessible for data-driven decision-making across the spectrum of facilities management.
Digital twins anchor the IoT
With the IoT growing larger and more complex for businesses, digital twins are only growing more important. They’re the anchor for sensors and beacons. They’re the repository for de-siloed data. They’re the backbone for workplace management systems. Without digital twins, the IoT involves a lot more networking between points of data origin and points of data use. Just like your workplace brings the company together, digital twins centralize all its data.
Keep reading: Digital Twins: A Revolution in Workplace Management