You have definitely heard it - the trendiest two buzzwords in the business: digital twin. But what does it really mean, and what does it look like for your organisation?
Digital Twin explained in simple terms
The name says it all. A digital twin is a digital representation of a real-world scenario, process, or service – it is a digital twin to reality. With ever-increasing sensors, IoT (Internet of Things) and new devices being developed and operationalised for data collection of all types; a digital twin allows for this data to specifically be used to simulate versions of the real world to improve planning and systems.
To keep it simple; Digital twins allow us to better understand the present, as well as plan for and predict the future.
The origin of the Digital Twin
The term “Digital Twin” was coined by Dr Michael Grieve in a Michigan University course in 2003, but the very first use of a digital twin may have happened much earlier – on NASA’s Apollo 13 mission. That April day in 1970 when Jack Swigert said the infamous words “Houston, we’ve had a problem here”, NASA were faced with numerous problems at once that needed to be solved.
As it turns out, many of these problems were solved using several simulators which, had this happened today, may well have been named digital twins. The digital twins we know of today typically use data collected by IoT, but back in 1970, NASA used advanced telecommunications which included two-way data transfer to resolve the problems in order to bring the crew back to Earth safely.
Why are Digital Twins important to gain a competitive advantage?
As you can see, a digital twin could be anything from a virtual representation of a physical object (such as a wind turbine or maybe a car) to multiple simulators that make up a digital twin of a complex scenario (such as a space mission). However, a commonality of today’s digital twins is this; it is often a cloud-based software solution that brings in multitudes of big data to make up the digital equivalent to the real-world product or scenario.
Today, big organisations within aviation, transport, utilities, maritime and more, are utilising digital twins to evaluate and future-proof their fast-paced operations and processes, using advanced analytical and even predictive capabilities.
Explore a real-time Digital Twin’ of the UK’s critical transport infrastructure including Train movements, Aircraft movements and Roadworks.
The future of Digital Twins
Although the concept of digital twins is relatively new, they are evolving at an exponential rate, and we already see a variation in the types of digital twins, for products, assets, and processes.
Here at Emu Analytics, we believe that as digital twins for processes evolve, the true power lies in the geospatial context. A digital twin that combines static and real-time data with the geospatial context, has the unique opportunity to provide advanced analytical capabilities as well as dynamic real-time visualisation to improve processes and even predict future scenarios – in a way that allows for easier collaboration and sharing of information.