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Digital twins are starting to transform the way that cities are designed, built, tracked and managed, according to experts industry wide. The technology, which involves creating a digital clone of a real-world object or system, is revolutionizing the fields of healthcare, manufacturing and logistics. It is now having a profound impact on architecture and urbanism too.
What is a Digital Twin?
A digital twin is a model of a real-world asset or system. These virtual models are created in such a way that they can be reviewed and modified by others, without the risk of affecting the real object in the real world. They are not only more reliable than physical models, but also more flexible and quicker to create. Digital twin technology has become the single most important development in asset management over the past two years, according to the International Data Corporation’s Global Asset Management 2015-2019 report. The report found that 94% of business leaders consider it important to use digital twin technology within the next two years.
What are the benefits of Digital Twins?
According to Gartner research, the benefits of the technology include:
-Increased economic efficiency and innovation
-Proven value and ROI for a number of verticals
-Improved management of resources and costs
-Faster development of designs Improved operational performance and efficiencies
-More accurate planning of asset usage and performance
How is the concept behind Digital Twins different to other kinds of physical model? At a very basic level, a Digital Twin is a digital representation of a real-world entity or object. This can be a vehicle, building or plant or it can be a physical device that has a real-world function, for example a mobile phone. As with other models, however, there is an element of being a digital copy and a real world embodiment.
How does a Digital Twin work?
The first stage involves collecting vast amounts of data, often on the structure of the real-world system being studied, and then using software to create a digital representation of it. If the replica reflects the original exactly, it has been created as a digital twin. The resulting digital file can then be used to enhance, modify or create new functions for the original. These digital tools are available in a variety of forms. For example, building software company Autodesk provide high-definition 3D models, animations and virtual reality, which can be used to add interactive elements and manipulate or build the 3D model. This means engineers and architects can create more detailed models and tests, which they can then share with colleagues, clients and suppliers.
How will it affect architecture and urbanism?
“With advances in materials, 3D printing and digital fabrication, 3D architectural models are becoming increasingly sophisticated,” says AMANDA BUCHANAN of University College London’s Department of Architecture. “With the ability to build and modify them easily, an architect could create virtual representations of the building as it stands today and to observe and study how its future occupants and users behave in a range of settings.” She goes on to say that these models can be deployed to assess the effects of varying use conditions, providing engineers and architects with information that helps them to understand the performance of their designs, identify potential flaws, and develop remedial measures before any issues arise.
Companies like Bylt: Social OS and NAICP, North American Institute Of Construction Professionals, have developed a operating system and hosting solution for the new era built world. The platform creates digital twin assets of people and products as well as a Digital Passport built on blockchain. The platform provides real time object assets and inventory supply chains from concept through building management and service. The need for model security and tracking has become and increasing concern.
The NAICP is working towards the protection of people rights and data management. As the world becomes more digital and workers get replaced or re-positioned the company looks to give the power to its members by securing their data from corporations that monetize off it as well as manufacturer product experience and data. The syndicate looks to its members to control data rights and monetization of its data to its members.
Digital twins will fundamentally change the way that cities, manufacturing plants, and other sectors of the economy operate, experts believe. As these platforms tie geo and building information together the construction industry is in for for an exciting next few years.