When offices, malls or even airports are turned into “smart buildings”, their safety, comfort and efficiency greatly improve. This benefits not only owners and operators, but also and especially their users. In this interview, Habib Modabber, Director of Business Development at Bosch Sicherheitssysteme, explains the advantages of “digital twins”.
Mr. Modabber, some buildings today are already designed from the outset as smart buildings. But what possibilities exist for existing structures?
It’s a fact that most buildings still have the big leap to smart status ahead of them. Yet even today, thanks to installed sensors and technical systems, they already generate large data volumes. The examples include building, lighting and energy management systems, as well as security technologies. However, in many cases these systems coexist with only minimal or no integration or interconnectivity. New approaches involving gateways and IoT technology are now opening up a host of new possibilities and opportunities for making buildings safer, more comfortable and more efficient. They only have to be taken advantage of.
A digital twin takes transparency to a whole new level.
How can digital twins help accomplish this?
A “digital twin” is a complete digital image of a building that includes all of its technologies, systems, sensors and other relevant aspects. It can exist in the cloud or locally. A single, integrated digital twin makes it possible to depict how a building’s systems interact with it and each other, something that until recently was only possible for individual systems and only with a laborious manual process. A digital twin connects them all and lets them share and communicate with one another. This takes transparency to a whole new level.
Can you see further potential here?
Absolutely. We have already done a lot of work regarding the connectivity of our products and are now taking the next steps with services such as in-store analytics or the video-based fire detection system Aviotec. Another example is condition monitoring, a service that builds on remote maintenance. This gives customers an ongoing overview of the condition of a system, for example, the degree to which a fire detector is contaminated. This enables maintenance work and necessary investment to be planned in advance and to avoid system malfunctions. But there will also be many other steps to follow. Particularly in the area of security and building technology we have the opportunity to bring together all aspects of IoT and digitalization – i.e. hardware, software, data, and new technologies like artificial intelligence – and to create solutions for our customers that are of considerable value. I find it very exciting to be part of this development.
Where do you see the biggest opportunities in the future for ‘creating added value for the customer’?
For me there are three areas in particular: connectivity and intelligence, sustainability, and security. That means that the manufacturer’s promises to be able to use data more intelligently are also realized in practice. Through our close customer contact and by combining technical expertise with new technologies we are perfectly positioned to create this real benefit. Also, it’s increasingly about sustainability. In buildings this particularly means the increasing need for efficiency, so automation and control systems are needed, and energy consulting will ultimately also play an increasingly important role. And finally in a global world security in itself is important. Alongside the safety of people, this also means data security. The need for security was and still is a very important one. I think it’s great that, as industry experts, we can contribute to fulfilling this need.
So a building’s twin can be used to communicate with it?
Yes, this is made possible by semantically querying the systems, which is actually the main purpose of the virtual image: you learn much more about the building! For example, I can now ask how often and for how long different rooms are used and the temperatures inside them. Maybe some rooms are used much less than was originally thought, or they are constantly kept at 20 degrees Celsius. This reveals opportunities for improving energy efficiency. Another keyword in this context is “space management”, the goal of which is to optimize the use of space. Today, many companies still possess little reliable information on how individual rooms, whole floors, or groups of buildings are actually used. But if they knew, for instance, that certain areas are not being fully taken advantage of, they could reduce them and lower their operating costs. There is great potential for IoT services that improve, speed up, or automate processes.
Can you give us an example?
“Indoor wayfinding” is one: visitors are automatically directed to a reserved parking space by a digital display, a personalized welcome message appears in the elevator, or a navigation assistant shows them the way to the room where a planned meeting will take place.
We are working closely with customers in the U.S. and Germany to develop creative solutions of this kind that improve the everyday experience of people in buildings.
Digital building twins play a key role in this.
The Power of Digital Twins for Building Automation Operations
From physical structures and systems to semantical models powered process executions on to analytical insights for highly efficient operations in the building automation domain:
At the Bosch Connected World 2020 Habib Modabber presented an operational digital twin in action.