Orkney Islands Council – Digital Twin Command Centre helps to optimise operational performance and air quality across the building portfolio

Last updated: 11th October 2022

IES have been working with Orkney Islands Council to create a bespoke Digital Twin Command Centre to help optimise operational performance, energy efficiency and air quality across its building portfolio.

The project grew from Orkney Islands Council’s desire to be able to centralise its building data from across its portfolio into a single platform, allowing them to quickly identify issues and manage their buildings remotely from a single interface. As is the case for many local authorities, they were grappling with vast amounts of building data from various disparate systems across their portfolio and, with many of the buildings being geographically dispersed over a wide area, analysing and translating the data into actions to improve building performance was proving time consuming and inefficient. 

While many of the buildings in their portfolio already had some form of Building Management System (BMS) installed, all of the systems were separate and required multiple logins across the various sites in order to access and interrogate the data. 

The council decided to focus initially on 7 sites within their portfolio. Working closely with their IoT subcontractor, Danalto, and IES, the council began setting a process in place to gather all the data from the existing systems across these sites, while adding in some additional metering in the form of heat meters, oil meters and electricity meters. This also included the installation of additional indoor and outdoor temperature sensors, allowing the council to gather more data than ever before, such as wind directions and speeds. 


With this more robust metering infrastructure in place, the next step was to enable the data to be transferred into IES’ iSCAN cloud-based data analytics platform. This provides a central user interface, which can be accessed via web browser, complete with bespoke building level dashboards and alerts, to help the council see what is happening across the portfolio, identify and prioritise faults and see where operational improvements can be made. 

Being a local authority, the council’s IT network has to be completely separated from the outside world through layers of firewalls and various other security measures, which made getting the data through and into the cloud a challenge. However, by working collaboratively, the council, Danalto and IES were able to create a secure connection to transfer the data from the building’s IoT sensors into Danalto’s web service, then in to the iSCAN platform where it is analysed and translated into actionable intelligence communicated via dashboards. 

The dashboards have been instrumental in allowing the council to understand in detail exactly what is happening in and around their buildings, allowing them to take informed actions towards improving building performance across many areas including occupant health and wellbeing, comfort, energy efficiency and costs. Even in the early project stages, the council were able to achieve some quick wins through the monitoring of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) within the buildings. Through the iSCAN platform, they were able to identify areas where the CO2 concentrations in certain rooms was higher than they would like or expect – something that was particularly important to the council during the ongoing pandemic when air quality is a top priority – and advise on simple operational measures to improve ventilation.

On the heating side, they have also been able to identify areas of overheating, representing significant opportunities to make savings across energy, cost and carbon. Crucially, the approach eliminates many of the frustrations typically associated with managing large building portfolios, with the aggregated metrics, building alerts (classed by severity) and ability to change room schedules remotely from a single interface, being just a few examples of the significant opportunities the council are now realising to help deliver savings and be more efficient in its portfolio management approach.

“The IES Command Centre has provided us with a central user interface to see what is happening across our portfolio; giving us a better idea of how things are performing, where there are issues and how we can make improvements. We have already earmarked two more sites to be added [in addition to the existing seven] that are currently either having an upgrade or extension done, so they’re ideal candidates for us to install additional metering and sensors at the same time. In an ideal world we ultimately would hope to include all of our buildings that have some form of BMS or controls in them so we can manage the entire portfolio from this one system.”

Steven Bruce, Project Officer (ReFLEX), Orkney Islands Council

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