Do you know the technology of “digital twins”? These virtual replicas of the built world, already used in many industries such as hospitality, architecture, construction and insurance, hold promise for commercial real estate. Guided tour with this forum by James Morris-Manuel, General Manager EMEA of Matterport.
Our lives and work have changed dramatically since the pandemic, impacting the commercial real estate industry. Changes in commercial real estate activities as well as social distancing and telecommuting policies have impacted demand from businesses and retailers alike and these changes are here to stay. On the corporate side, for example, leisure-oriented amenities such as rest rooms and gyms are less popular as employers and landowners prioritize air quality, new technologies and spaces that comply with distancing policies rather than recreational facilities.
A KPMG study also revealed that in the future, 92% of office buildings will require a variety of spaces to perform different types of work and that technology will be used to connect workers and customers remotely at a height of 83%.
Stimulate technological innovation in the field of commercial real estate
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the commercial real estate industry was poised for dramatic growth. Workspaces were redesigned to allow companies more collaboration and interaction between their employees, merchants sought to adapt their offer to stand out and bridge the gap between traditional stores and e-commerce. However, the sector was still suffering from the time lost in valuing properties and showing them to potential tenants, whether retail or office buildings. With a myriad of processes, the commercial real estate industry needed to become more efficient, and technology had its part to play.
In this context, owners and facility managers have become interested in technological innovation, taking advantage of tools such as virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI) and digital twins – virtual replicas of the built world – to meet the challenges inherent in the sector, and overcome the obstacles posed by COVID-19.
Digital twins at the service of commercial real estate
To put it simply, digital twins are photo-realistic, dimensionally accurate digital replicas of physical spaces, whether it’s a room or an entire building. They bring any space to life, providing capabilities like interactive virtual tours and providing a more immersive and engaging experience than traditional 2D photos, floor plans and text can’t produce.
Digital twins are already proving beneficial in many industries beyond real estate such as hospitality, architecture, construction, insurance and they can also be useful for commercial real estate. The process of transferring decision-making to an uninterrupted digital platform is proving to be a powerful advantage that creates unprecedented value.
By importing precise real spaces into a virtual world similar to ours, digital twins bring online a mass of analog data that can be searched, modeled, and ultimately used to add value to physical spaces. Accumulating and exploiting this data makes it possible to detect trends and applications to improve the efficiency of companies as well as their positive impact on society.
Focus on operational efficiency
For a facility manager, the digital twin bridges physical spaces and their virtual models, and can, for example, help them determine the best ways to protect employees while creating better buildings and new ways to solve problems.
It also enables properties to be built or refurbished with operational capacity as a top priority and helps managers better understand how end users will interact with a space before it is even occupied.
Integrating digital twins as a visual tool early in the construction process also increases efficiency by eliminating routine tasks like repeated site surveys, building modeling and reporting. Much of these processes are automated in the cloud, thereby reducing labor hours.
Tenants and especially businesses are looking for healthier and more sustainable spaces. To meet this demand, digital twins can be used to ensure that workspaces are more efficient, sustainable and respectful of social distancing, to take care of air quality and energy consumption. By using data from digital twins, companies can model and optimize all parameters right from the building design phase. AI, for example, can be layered over existing heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems to control airflow and reduce energy consumption.
In addition, the knowledge of digital twins can be used for restoration projects, allowing companies in the commercial real estate sector to have access to an optimized maintenance approach, to easily and more accurately calculate the damage and to estimate the repair and reconstruction costs. By giving contractors the ability to effectively document progress steps, costs can be reduced and resource efficiency improved.
Post-construction, the operational phase of a building being the longest stage of its life cycle, continuing to document the state and evolutions of the building in its digital twin makes it possible to follow the longevity of the thousands of individual elements that make up the building.
In the retail sector, digital twins enable businesses to stay competitive in an increasingly e-commerce-dominated market by providing engaging and innovative retail experiences. A valuable tool not only for communicating with customers, but also for effectively managing inventory, planning layout design, securing floors, or even implementing employee training more efficiently than ever.
The future of commercial real estate
COVID-19 has dramatically accelerated the digital transformation of the commercial real estate sector, also following the evolution of consumer preferences. The adoption of advanced technologies like digital twins, artificial intelligence and virtual reality is essential to meet the demand for more efficient, sustainable and socially distancing spaces, while creating an attractive environment. Digital twins in particular offer features such as interactive virtual tours as well as tools to better design, plan and build optimized spaces adapted to changing consumer demand.
By investing in a transformative digital strategy and deploying this technology, commercial real estate professionals can seize new competitive advantages and succeed in today’s demanding marketplace.
Learn more: https://matterport.com/en
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“How digital twins are transforming the commercial real estate industry” – Agency Journal
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