With new technologies, the digital twins of today can make our infrastructure systems more intelligent than ever before. To become more intelligent, infrastructure shifts from having a mere replica of itself, to being able to proactively manage itself. It also has to recognize its performance as part of an entire ecosystem of assets, users, and environment. The image below shows how the Internet of Things, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Spatial Networks and other technologies have come together to enable the creation of a modern, highly intelligent digital twin — one that has more context for greater situational analysis, greater ability to diagnose a situation, can predict with more accuracy, and can introduce faster self-corrections to the actual asset for superior performance.
Digital twins are only now taking off in popularity, because a handful of macro trends in society are acting to greatly simplify the process and reduce the costs involved. The expenses that were once associated with creating and accessing the information required to build elaborate and detailed digital twins could be prohibitively expensive, but with the advent of 5G and other technology advancements, we can now generate, store and move more data more quickly and cheaply than ever before. With this greater intelligence, predicting changes in society, climate, nature and the built environment facilitates better decision making that will prepare and protect Canadians.
Today’s digital twin can be used to predict and improve the flow of people and goods; to manage water supply and demand; to predict the lifespan of a bridge; to assess the vitality of neighbourhoods; and even to analyze human and planetary health, as shown in the image below.