Using data to make buildings smarter and better. EDGE Next provides actionable insights and guidance with the help of Azure Digital Twins.
Real estate developer EDGE prides itself on its namesake building The Edge, located in the Zuidas business district in Amsterdam. Proclaimed 'The Smartest Building in the World' by Bloomberg, it is a testament to the developer's goal to make any office building in the world smarter, greener, and healthier. An integral part of this drive to make better buildings is the EDGE Next platform. It connects to non-EDGE branded as well as any existing buildings and uses additional sensors if necessary to collect data on energy performance, indoor air quality, and occupancy. Experts from Betabit have been working hand in glove with EDGE Next on the development of this platform.
Massive amounts of data
As with so many things these days, the key to improving buildings is data. "You'd be surprised by the massive amounts of data a typical building generates nowadays", says Fanie Reynders, EDGE Next's Head of Technology. "But the individual data points by themselves mean very little. We know how to translate these data points and the correlations between them into meaningful information, that is our intellectual property.
The actionable insights we provide on our platform, give building owners the guidance they need to achieve energy savings and sustainability targets, and to create a healthy, safe, and productive working environment for their tenants."
All buildings developed by mother company EDGE, for example EDGE Grand Central in Berlin and the fully circular headquarters of Triodos Bank in Driebergen, incorporate this technology. Several prominent external users are Unilever, for its USA headquarters in New Jersey, and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs that started has started a pilot in Delhi, India.
The single source of truth
The technical heart of the EDGE Next platform is formed by Microsoft's Azure Digital Twins. In this IoT-platform a digital representation of a real-world object, a building, in this case, can be created. This digital model then typically runs side-by-side with the physical object; when a change in the state of the real-world object occurs, that exact same is also reflected in its 'digital twin'. For EDGE Next, a building's digital twin is the single source of truth; all the modules in its platform feed off this model. One such module is the 'Digital Signage' solution that is about to be launched commercially. It enables clients to create customized signboards that provide real-time information on occupancy for each room on a floor or can give alerts when temperatures or CO2-levels exceed certain limits or when areas become too crowded in view of Covid-19 restrictions.
From a couple of weeks to under a minute
When Microsoft decided to launch a newer, far more advanced version of Azure Digital Twins, this meant EDGE Next had to move its workload to that newer version. "With the help of Betabit, we did this in record time," says Fanie Reynders.
It's about much more than Betabit just giving us extra resources. After collaborating for years, they understand our needs, they know what we want and how we want it. At EDGE Next we want to foster a really open culture where everybody feels comfortable to participate, give an opinion, ask questions or make suggestions. The Betabit people fit right in, they truly feel as 'part of our core'."
The migration to the newer Azure Digital Twins version also provided EDGE Next with an opportunity to drastically speed up the onboarding process for new buildings. "Previously developers needed two or three weeks to onboard a single building, that usually involved writing code on our platform. For the new version, we have been able to eliminate a lot of these steps, and now onboarding can be done in under a minute. Every second saved means we have a tremendous competitive advantage in the market."
Truly make an impact
That is because the speed with which EDGE Next can scale-up is very valuable to the sort of customers it is aiming for. "We're not after the small fish, we're after the really big ones. In order to truly make an impact", explains Mr. Reynders.
We have been doing plenty of small-scale pilots and recently signed a SaaS deal for two of Microsoft’s very own buildings in Bucharest, Romania, and Sydney, Australia. If a company like Microsoft is impressed with the results, they may decide they want to have it installed in all their buildings worldwide. And they'd want to be running in a matter of days, not weeks."
With the scalability to implement its platform quickly, globally, and securely to any building, EDGE Next goes a long way toward realizing the vision of its mother: The world needs better buildings. Make building count.