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How Willow is Redefining the Digital Twin for the Built World

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From humble beginnings in 2011, one Aussie company is making great strides in the building and architecture space, harnessing the potential of smart buildings.

Starting life under the name Ridley, Willow rebranded in 2019. This global technology company is responsible for creating systems to facilitate smart building functionality and optimising building performance and the experience of a building’s occupants. It achieves all this by harnessing IoT, AI and big data to glean valuable information.

Willow has further been bolstered through the significant partnerships it has formed with world-renowned companies, such as Microsoft and Investa. Five years ago, it partnered up with Investa to create WillowTwin, which integrates 3D visualisation of a building with data necessary for the building to operate itself.

Jobsite ANZ spoke with Willow’s Global Chief Marketing Officer Michelle Zamora about the company’s growth over the last decade, its changing functionality, and some of its major projects.

Where it All Began

“In 2011, Joshua Ridley created Ridley from his home in the now bedroom of his daughter,” Michelle began. “Ridley was formed to digitise the world of architecture and construction. In 2017, a highly skilled team of software developers, led by Dale Brett, joined the organisation.

“Today, a group of digital architects, digital engineers and software engineers allows the company to provide a holistic approach to the design, management and operation of infrastructure assets.”

Willow harnesses IoT to provide valuable building insights. It can be integrated at the design and construction stage or retrofitted to get incompatible legacy systems working together to provide essential information. Michelle explains:

“The open protocol environment allows us to collect and prepare static, geospatial and live data from IoT devices. By unlocking data from previously incompatible systems, we can prepare and define the data into a common language, and with Artificial Intelligence, enable users to interact with clear analysis and insights relating to the performance and experience of the buildings or infrastructure networks. These insights are available at a project or portfolio level, aiding powerful insights and decision making.”

For example, on one project in Rottweil, Germany, our system is used on the lift system. It can identify how many people alighted at which floor and how many people are on any floor at any given time. The data is particularly useful for safety where emergency evacuation may be required. We can easily identify how many people are on any level in real time.

Functionality in Practice

Willow also provides a completion tracker and model auditor that validates subcontractor data, asset registers, manuals and operations for a building’s assets and infrastructure network. This valuable functionality assists with user experience, energy efficiency, and legislative compliance. 

 “Willow is also very effective when it comes to compliance,” Michelle said. “For instance, Australian legislation requires 20 per cent of fire dampers to be audited and serviced per annum. It can be hard to keep track of which have been audited or serviced, but Willow’s software can easily identify exactly which dampers have been serviced or replaced.”

Willow has a holistic solution to support the entire supply chain of a building or infrastructure lifecycle. It helps individuals or portfolios of new and existing buildings and infrastructure networks.

It is employed throughout a building’s lifecycle, including the delivery of architectural design; creation of digital roadmaps and implementation for smart buildings and infrastructure networks; Audit of models and data in preparation for handover and delivery of a project; Operation of a building or infra network; and user experience of a building or infra network.

The company is involved in several high-profile new-build commercial sites, such as 151 Clarence Street Sydney, 60 Martin Place Sydney, and retrofit of 567 Collins Street Melbourne. It is also taking part in several high profile international projects like the rezoning development of Queens in the USA.

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