As part of Akademiska hus' effort to digitize its entire property portfolio, a digital twin of Umeå University is developed. The digital twin will mainly be used in the property management for purposes of increasing the utilization of premises and energy efficiency as well as planning future renovations.
The work is carried out by an external company that walks around the campus with a scanning rig (much like a backpack with a scanner on it). On this page you will find answers to frequently asked questions in relation to work on the digital twin. The page is updated as needed.
What is a digital twin?
A digital twin is a 3D model of a real environment. A digital twin of real estate, as in the case of Umeå University, is about being able to digitally visualize what the building looks like. Walls, ceilings and technical details such as lamps, switches and water and power lines and more are merged into a 3D model.
The digital twin is developed in two levels:
• The first level consists of a so-called "point cloud". A distance meter measures the room in detail with an accuracy of a few centimetres. For example, by measuring the distance from wall to wall, or between wall and door. All points where the laser hits create an image where contours of objects and fixtures are visible. In this way, a colourless 3D model of the room is created with thousands of points.
• Photo, the second level, is made with a 360-degree camera that colours the points created in the first level. As a result we can see more detail, a 3D image. The result is similar to Google Street view.
The digital twin can consist of either only the point scanning or a merger of the two levels.
What will Umeå University use the digital twin for?
In essence, the digital twin will be used for the operation and management of Umeå University's properties. By applying different types of property-related data and measurement data from sensors, among other things, we can visualize the data through the twin. We will then be able to analyse, for example, use of premises, indoor climate and energy use. By putting data in context – i.e. visualise where something in a building deviates, we can extract the power of the digital twin and find possible resource savings. Data from the twin will also be used in planning premises in connection with operational changes, for example to optimise the utilisation rate from a sustainability perspective. We want to make sure that we have the right size of premises in relation to the number of people who use the premises.
At a later stage, the twin could be used in, for example, marketing contexts and allow a prospective student to digitally wander around our public premises, but this is not the main focus at this time.
How can a digital twin be used to make the premises more energy efficient?
The main benefit of digital twins is that premises can be used in a more sustainable way and perhaps we can even avoid building new ones to the same extent. Of course, low energy and power use are also important for a sustainable building. From the point of view of digital twins, it is the very composition of sensor data, energy data and the ability to visualize where and how the energy is used. With the help of smart algorithms, both climate and energy data can be connected and patterns found, in particular we believe that machine learning and artificial intelligence can play an important role. With more sensors, more frequent data collection and a context in the form of a scanned model, it gives us new opportunities to both visualize but also automate energy analyses and identify what needs to be addressed.
Why are there two different levels of the scanning - and why are different ones used depending on the room?
Point scanning is sufficient to manage the property and the operation, but the photography increases orientability and offers a better picture of the environment. This is particularly relevant for public premises that may be displayed in marketing contexts. Therefore, as a matter of principle, rooms that may be of value for public display, such as corridors, lecture halls, seminar rooms, group rooms, cafeterias, course labs and student computer labs, will be both point-scanned and photographed. For individual offices or areas that are not public, these will, as a matter of principle, only be point scanned in order to be used for the property operation.
Premises with sensitive information or protected activities will neither be photographed nor point scanned.
How detailed will the final product be?
Point scanning creates only colourless outlines of objects. For example, it will be possible to see that there is a binder on a table, but no text will be visible. Even with the photography on top, words will not be discernible. With the photography we will be able to see that, for example, a sofa is blue, but we will not be able to see whether or not there is a hole in the fabric.
For the public environments that are both scanned and photographed, it will be possible to save the photos separately, and at a later stage to merge them into more high-resolution images similar to Google Street View.
I was inside a room you were scanning. I don't want to be in the picture. What should I do?
You don't have to do anything. Individuals who may be in a picture, in connection with photographing or point scanning, will automatically be de-identified so that they cannot be identified. A manual review will also take place of all materials prior to publication, which will involve participation of staff from the university together with the supplier and Akademiska Hus. All information will be handled on local servers within Sweden throughout the review process. When the data is fully de-identified and reviewed, all original images will be deleted from all the supplier's local servers. If you have any questions about how your data is handled, please contact Akademiska hus' legal department at firstname.lastname@example.org
What happens when the scanning of the premises is complete – what is the next step?
When the scanning is completed and the de-identification process is completed, the material will be compiled into a digital twin owned by Akademiska hus. Subsequently, through an agreement with Akademiska Hus, the Premises Supply Unit will have access to the digital twin and will be able to start using it for property management purposes.
Will employees and/or students be able to use the twin as a virtual reality and "walk around" the premises?
At the initial stage, employees or students will not be able to use the twin. This may change at a later stage. Akademiska hus has started to develop a mobile application where teachers and students will be able to find and book rooms. In the future, additional applications such as virtual tours of campus and more are conceivable.
The data collected – will it be available if I want to research the material?
Yes, the university has the opportunity to sign a data sharing agreement with Akademiska Hus so that data from the digital twin can be downloaded via API to be used for research and education purposes.
Is Akademiska hus or Umeå University the owner of the data?
All approved scanning data published in the platform is owned by Akademiska Hus. However, Umeå University will have full insight into and the opportunity to influence all data that is approved. The University will be able to access certain parts of the data under an agreement.