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A Digital Transformation: 7 Facts About Digital Twins

Effective asset lifecycle management is more important than ever. Local governments and utility organizations are quickly transforming and modernizing in order to keep pace with the increasing demand for efficient and resilient community services and infrastructure.

A large part of this “modernization” is happening in the form of technology. Organizations are working towards a digital transformation by implementing new, future-focused asset lifecycle management solutions that centralize asset data and assist in bridging the gap between the physical and digital worlds.

Digital twins are key to bridging the gap between physical assets and the digital world which helps modernize organizations and the communities they serve. As Esri explains, “A digital twin is a virtual representation of an object, process, or system”. For example, a digital twin of a water treatment facility can be created using BIM models, CAD data, as-built data, 3D GIS, remote sensing technology, or by using LiDAR—locating all the individual assets within the facility and their associated lifecycle data in one centralized 3D model. The goal is to eventually have a complete digital twin of physical assets that gives you real-time data and fosters predictive modeling throughout the asset lifecycle.

Here are seven facts about digital twins and the digital transformation process to help you envision all the possibilities this technology can provide your organization.

1. History: The concept of digital twins has been around for a surprising amount of time. In the 1960s, NASA practiced the precursor to the idea of digital twins by physically duplicating systems at ground level to match the systems in space. A digital twin was used for the Apollo 13 mission to assess and simulate conditions on board.

2. First use of the phrase: The idea of digital twins became more well-known in 2002, when Michael Grieves gave a speech at a Society for Manufacturing Engineers conference. During this speech, Grieves suggested that the digital twin should be used for product lifecycle management.

3. Key aspects of a digital twin: Did you know that there are three key aspects to digital twin? These include the physical product, the digital/virtual product, and the connection between both the physical and digital products.

4. Smart cities: Eventually, digital twins will help create “smart cities” where technology like sensors, IoT, and predictive modeling connect real-time data to stakeholders, helping communities become more resilient, sustainable, and responsive.

5. Industry 4.0: Many believe that digital twins are a part of industry 4.0 (the fourth industrial revolution) where technology interconnectivity, data transparency, and automation become key components of our everyday lives—including asset lifecycle management.

6. Digital transformation: Operations can become more effective by moving away from paper and siloed systems. By creating a digital replica of their assets in GIS and by defining their processes in a GIS-centric asset lifecycle management platform, organizations can streamline maintenance activities and data among their staff with much greater efficiency.

7. Trimble Cityworks, Esri, and Other Trimble solutions: Trimble Cityworks, Esri, and other Trimble solutions are paving the way for organizations to utilize digital twins in their communities’ asset management. Solutions like ArcGIS IndoorsArcGIS Scene ViewerTrimble Vegetation ManagerTelog IoT devicesTrimble UnityTrimble SiteVision, and more allow organizations to enhance their asset lifecycle management by creating an effective system of action.