How to Create a Digital Twin Pilot Program for Your Property Portfolio (Step-by-Step Guide)

Digital twins are gaining popularity in the building and real estate industries. Interested in implementing digital twins for your properties but don’t know where to begin? A digital twin pilot is a great place to start.

What Are Digital Twins?

First things first: a digital twin is an digital model representation virtual model of a physical asset. These models are powered by connecting large amounts of data — including real-time information — to a 3D model. Advanced analytics can then be applied to the data to get insights about each physical asset. Performance improvements, reduced inefficiencies and increased revenue are just a few of the many benefits that users experience.While you can create a digital twin for just about any physical object to which you can connect sensors, today we’ll be talking specifically about digital twins connected to buildings.

Why Should You Connect Your Buildings to Digital Twins?

Building owners and property managers know how critical it is to have access to all of their building data. They also understand how difficult it is to manage all their disconnected data and software/systems. With building information spread across dozens of tools and data formats, managing it all is challenging — and that’s saying nothing of trying to make smart decisions with it.The good news is that digital twins can help alleviate this frustration. We’ve noticed more and more property owners and managers are getting excited about digital twins. Unfortunately, they’re sometimes fearful of what it takes to implement them.Luckily, getting started with digital twins doesn’t have to be overwhelming. In fact, we developed a tried-and-true blueprint for creating a digital twin pilot program using our Smart World Pro solution.

How to Launch Your Digital Twin Pilot

Launching a digital twin pilot is much easier than you think. We like to break the process down into four steps:

1. Assess Your Digital Twin Needs

Start by assessing your current portfolio and planned projects to determine which property (or properties) you should create your first digital twin(s) of.As you’re assessing your projects, be sure to:

  • Review your building data, software and files. Make note of how much data you have for each project, what software programs and tools you use and the file formats of your important data.
  • Determine which projects are best suited to have a digital twin. What makes a project well suited? As a general rule, digital twins are more effective when they have more data associated with it. While you can create digital twins with limited data, you won’t see as much value as the amount of analysis and monitoring you can conduct will be more limited.
  • Identify digital twin project stakeholders. Who needs to be involved with the digital twin pilot? Consider who will work with your digital twins once your pilot is up and running.

2. Start Small: Choose Initial Assets for Your Digital Twin Pilot

After you’ve completed a thorough assessment of your projects, it’s time to determine which to include in your pilot.If we could only share one piece of advice about building a digital twin portfolio, it would be to start small. We recommend starting with one to five buildings. While you may be tempted to immediately create digital twins of every asset in your portfolio, choosing just a handful will help you avoid overwhelming yourself with the process. You’ll be able to familiarize yourself with your new tools and see a ROI before you expand the technology to more of your projects or properties.

3. Import Your Data and Connect Software APIs

Once you choose your projects, your digital twin solution provider will create your digital twins. At Cityzenith, our team will use your BIM or CAD data to create these 3D replicas of your physical assets and load them into Smart World Pro.With your first digital twins created, you’ll be ready to import your project and property data and connect your software for your buildings or projects. As mentioned earlier, the more data you have for your assets, the better. A solution like Smart World Pro can aggregate hundreds of different file formats and import any data from tools that offer an API. Examples of data you may wish to import includes architectural renderings, financial data, legal information, leasing information,parcel information, transaction records, and work orders/CMMS.

4. Share Your Project with Your Team

After connecting your digital twin, data and software to your digital twin solution, you can share access with the stakeholders identified in step one. Once they’ve had a chance to work hands-on with the digital twins, ask for feedback about how they’re utilizing them. In what ways is it making their jobs easier or more efficient? How has it changed the ways they make decisions? Understanding how your pilot team benefits from the digital twins will help you estimate how a larger-scale roll-out will yield financial and operational returns.

What’s Next?

With a successful pilot under your belt, you’ll walk away with:

  • Digital twins of your properties
  • A new skill set that allows you to derive value from your digital twins
  • Use cases that highlight how digital twins improve management and sales of your portfolio, preparing you to scale your portfolio
  • Reduced spend across areas such as maintenance, leasing, and operations

Armed with these outcomes, you’ll be prepared to roll-out the next phase of the digital twin experience across your portfolio.

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