Collaboration Digitally Transforms How Buildings are Managed

Johnson Controls and Microsoft Corp. has announced a global collaboration to digitally transform how buildings and spaces are conceived, built and managed. Microsoft also announced the general availability of Microsoft Azure Digital Twins.

As a key partner for Azure Digital Twins, Johnson Controls’ OpenBlue Digital Twin is a platform that will support the entire ecosystem of building and device management technologies with digital cloud technologies.                            

Johnson Controls is a Microsoft partner leveraging several Azure services including Active Directory Services, Azure Data Lake, Access Control and Time Series Insights. Microsoft’s Azure Digital Twins is the newest Azure platform service integrated into Johnson Controls OpenBlue platform that aims to enable the creation of next-generation IoT connected solutions that will model the real world. Johnson Control’s platform turns the physical world into computable objects that will enable customers to create detailed digital versions of physical buildings, assets and systems.

Digital twins are digital replicas of physical entities capable of providing an analysis of data and the potential to monitor systems to mitigate risks, manage issues and utilize simulations to test future solutions. The use of digital twins plays a role in helping technicians identify the root cause of issues accelerating problem solving. Additionally, building managers are able to support COVID-19 safety and security protocols, while ensuring efficient use of energy and other facility resources.

Azure Digital Twins enables the creation of knowledge graphs based on digital models of entire environments, whether they are buildings, factories, farms, energy networks, railways, stadiums or entire cities. These digital models empower property managers with actionable insights that drive product quality, optimize operations, reduce costs and create customer experiences.

OpenBlue Digital Twin is a platform that is purpose-built with smart buildings and spaces in mind, enabling and unifying all aspects of an intelligent building; security, employee experience, facilities management, sustainability and more. Its open system integrates with existing building infrastructure, regardless of brand, make or model.

“Our partnership with Microsoft is a vital ingredient in our innovation strategy, as the company shares our vision of using technology to transform the environments where people live, work, learn and play,” says Mike Ellis, vice president and chief digital and customer officer at Johnson Controls. “Digital twins are playing an increasingly important role in the design, construction and ongoing operation of healthy buildings and spaces, and can be particularly valuable when analyzing large datasets and predicting patterns and trends to tell our customers things they don’t yet know. Our OpenBlue digital platform, closely connected with Microsoft’s platform and workplace technologies, represents an unbeatable opportunity to help our customers make shared spaces safer, more agile and more sustainable.”

“We have an incredible opportunity to use advances in cloud and compute capabilities to help customers reimagine the physical world,” states Scott Guthrie, executive vice president, Cloud + AI, Microsoft. “By integrating the power of Azure Digital Twins with Johnson Controls OpenBlue Digital Twin platform, our collaboration will provide customers with a digital replica and actionable insights to better meet their evolving needs.”

Among the numerous pilots currently under development is an effort at The National University of Singapore (NUS). As part of the university’s ongoing efforts to create a smart, safe and sustainable campus for students and staff, the new alliance’s complementary products and services are coming together to test the foundations of a Digital Twin-powered operations platform. The data-driven platform will enable integrated building management across the campus and serve as the foundation for energy and space optimization, predictive maintenance, and unmanned operations.

“National University of Singapore (NUS) is excited about using Microsoft’s Azure Digital Twins technology and Johnson Controls OpenBlue platform, in our digital transformation journey that changes the way we design and manage our buildings and infrastructure, while retaining smart, sustainability and safety principles at the core of the entire campus,” says Professor Yong Kwet Yew, senior vice president (campus infrastructure), NUS.

Working with Microsoft, Johnson Controls will address how people can return to work to maximize space while operating facilities safely, including:

  • Energy Optimization – optimizing energy usage within facilities maintenance with a goal of reducing carbon emissions that save money and support sustainability efforts.
  • Access Control and Safety – addressing physical access and safety using live video analytics and spatial intelligence, combining Microsoft cloud services and Johnson Controls security access controls hardware end points.
  • Collaboration for Facility Managers – integrating facility management workflows with workplace collaboration platforms such as Office 365 and Microsoft Teams to increase productivity and collaboration across remote teams.  
  • Workspace Optimization – maximizing the use of spaces by merging building and occupancy data with experiences to create actionable insights for facility managers and the occupants.

Johnson Controls OpenBlue platform – launched in July 2020 – was designed with agility, flexibility and scalability in mind, to enable buildings to become dynamic spaces. In leveraging the platform, customers will be able to manage operations systemically, delivering buildings that have memory, intelligence and a unique identity. Read more about OpenBlue Digital Twin.

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