« Back to Facilities Management Building Automation Category Home

Talking Transparency & Creating a Digital Twin

By Ken Sinclair 

As part of our never-ending transformation, we need to talk about transparency, which implies openness, communication, and accountability, operating in a way that thoughts, feelings, or motives are easily perceived, and it is easy for others to see what actions are performed.

This open-to-all transparent thinking is a significant shift from our proprietary me thinking of yesteryear and is a big part of our process of "metamorphosing me." I find my younger mentors bring clarity to the meaning of transparency as they ask, Why is that done that way? 

From my column, Transparency Transformation: "The answer often is because in the past we did not want to be transparent.... Yikes! That is a scary thought, but true. But achieving transparency may even be scarier if we do not change the opaqueness of our mind set."


"The implication of transparency is that all an organization's actions should be scrupulous enough to bear public scrutiny. Increasingly, the nature of social media and other communications means that even actions intended to be secret may be brought into the publics' awareness, despite an organization's best efforts to keep them hidden."

I just wrote this blog bit Talking Transparency & Creating a Digital Twin for https://nordicsmartbuilding.fi/blog/:

"I am extremely pleased to be a moderator and a media sponsor at the 2018 Nordic Smart Building Convention, Helsinki, June 6-7, 2018. The cross-pollination of this event on social media with global followers has provided a virtual connection to several European innovators. I believe that this is a harbinger of what the event will achieve.

"The program is starting to evolve, and panel discussions we must have are all being discussed and set as I write this.

"I want to introduce two words that will find their way into most of the discussions: 'transparency' and creating a 'digital twin.' The New Deal white paper provides a good summary and is based on three tenets, explained in full in the white paper: open standards, digital twin, and service transparency

"Jim Lee, CEO of Cimetrics, puts it this way: 'Today, the industry is grappling with the impending disruption brought about by information technology, specifically the "digitalization of everything" under the moniker of the Internet of Things.' 

"Read the CABA white paper at http://bit.ly/newdealwp."

Be sure to read these articles for more insight:

Transparency in Buildings: Why It Matters. "Transparency has become a strategic lever enabling organizations to achieve broader business agendas, achieve improved business and operational outcomes and create new levels of value" — Marc Petock, Chief Communications Officer, Vice President, Marketing Lynxspring & Connexx Energy

"The commercial building market was once about acquiring and managing buildings. Today, we are beginning to hear about transparency and its importance in managing and operating buildings. Transparency has become a strategic lever enabling organizations to achieve broader business agendas, achieve improved business and operational outcomes and create new levels of value. 

"This month's theme is about transparency transformation. While transparency has not been top of mind in the past, we are now beginning to experience the early days of it. It has been said that transparency, involves openness, communication, and accountability.  As this transformation continues, we need to look at it from the perspective of how it is beginning to take place within our building environments. 

"Transparency within buildings and facilities is accelerating because of the push in technology transformation. After years of being over-shadowed, building technology is taking its turn in the spotlight. Commercial building owners are feeling the pressure to embrace technology and invest in intelligent building solutions that provide a better level of transparency as well as access to real-time data for operations, productivity, comfort, and sustainability.

With facilities operations being a major cost for any organization (some say it is the 4th or 5th highest cost), owners and operators are looking at transparency to help best utilize and create the additional value of these assets and increase the well-being of all its operations.

Another article worth reading: Transparency, Why It's Important. "The digital twin is the tool to deliver service transparency to building systems" — Anto Budiardjo, fractional entrepreneur.

"This is the magic of transparency. The above is an example of a service where data is used and presented as necessary to the user, at the appropriate times when needed. Interestingly, a similar number of taxis were probably around you as Uber/Lyft vehicles, but their status is not being captured or used digitally, in other words, they were invisible to you until they drive by you. This is what is meant by 'transparency,' making invisible things visible.

"So how do we bring this level of positive user interactions to buildings?

"The quick answer is data, but we need to look back at the app once more to understand the types of data required, the importance of their relationship and presentation to the user. At first, your GPS is vital, then the collective GPS of the right type of cars near you, and for each, how long they would take to get to you based on current traffic conditions. The app may do other things like checking your account, compare your history with the drivers to filter our 3-star scores and below, and charge you based on the current service usage. All this to display just the first screen of the app! Similar algorithms exist with subsequent steps of the trip.

A third piece well worth the time to read: Convergence of Trends. "I want to talk about five trends that I think are likely to converge to impact the automated buildings industry in a significant way" — Alex Zimmerman, principal, Applied Green Consulting.

"'You are going to have a job that doesn't exist today, using technology that hasn't been invented yet, to solve a problem that we don't know what it is yet,' Mark Weinberger, chief executive of EY (formerly known as Ernst & Young).

"What do we do about it today? I guess this is a plea for two things. 

"The first is something that we all pay lip service to but don't execute very well - integrated design. The key to integrated design, as architect Bill Reed has said, is 'everybody, every issue, early on.' Up till now, most of the integrated design that has been done has not included everybody nor has it been every issue. It generally has been focused on the building program and environmental issues. We need to re-center the focus of building design, construction, and operation on the people working in the building, their health and productivity, then widen the circle to include environmental, social, and community goals. As always, it needs to be done within the financial constraints of the project. If we do this, we can get away from the silo mindset of characterizing whether we are building a LEED, net zero, living building, automated building, intelligent building, or whether it incorporates IoT, data-driven analytics, machine learning or AI. These are all just tools, a means to an end, enablers of infrastructure that should allow people and their organizations to thrive and fulfill their missions. 

"The second thing is really an enabler of the first. We all really need to get more active in understanding the other worlds that will impact this one. That means green buildings; it means the IT and analytics world, it means AI. We need to begin to learn some of the language, the issues, the concerns, and where they are headed. Attend the next USGBC Greenbuild annual conference in Chicago in November. Attend the Predictive Analytics World conference in June in Las Vegas. Attend the Internet of Things World Forum 2018 in London in May. Or search for local equivalents to any or all of these — there's a lot happening all over the world.

We all need to get outside our comfort zone in order to survive and thrive in the world that is speeding towards us. We all need to "understand better where we fit and how we can contribute to the great changes that must happen for us all."




Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »  

posted on 3/7/2018