Disrupt Infrastructure – ‘Digital Twins’, the catalyst for real-world innovation.

Digital Twins, News, Disrupt Infrastructure - 'Digital Twins', the catalyst for real-world innovation.

In our latest contribution James Dean, CEO and Co-Founder, sensat, examines the extraordinary benefits using ‘digital twins’ for infrastructure development projects.

On a global scale, infrastructure plays an integral role in ensuring the function of modern society. Whether it’s the roads and railways that connect people to the resources they need or essential amenities like power plants and communications networks, infrastructure underpins all the technologies that enable modern living. This same infrastructure is just as essential to organisations which depend on power and instant communications for their business functions. However, with global growth increasing, there is a corresponding need for infrastructure to expand to accommodate increasing demand. Estimates suggest that $89 trillion in infrastructure investment is required by 2030 to maintain global growth. In light of this, it makes sense that infrastructure developers are finding and using the solutions that will enable this growth quickly, safely and at the lowest cost. 

This is where digital solutions come in. Infrastructure is a predominantly physical industry – which means the sector has historically been slow to adopt digital transformation. As such, current methods of planning and delivering infrastructure are becoming increasingly outmoded as automation and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions become more viable for business operations and applicable to a wider range of use cases. In fact, offline industries not moving to integrate these solutions will result in an estimated $5.2 trillion direct economic loss per year. So what are these solutions? 

The first is ‘digital twins’ – digital replicas of real-world locations. Digital twins infuse real-time data from a wide set of sources to provide an accurate, digital model of what is occurring in a real-world location. This real-time data can be derived from a wide array of IoT devices to provide comprehensive data on everything from temperature, to foot-traffic to whether machines are in need of maintenance. Another advantage of digital twins is that they enable data capture 400x faster than traditional means, enabling projects to work on a greatly accelerated timeline. Since they depend on numerous data inputs, including drone or satellite imagery and Lidar, digital surveying allows for the mapping of areas that have traditionally been impossible or extremely time-consuming by other methods. Moreover, for challenging environments, such as those near large bodies of water or on difficult terrain, digital solutions eliminate the risk posed to human surveyors. 

Digital Twin screenshot from sensat
‘Digital twin’ example from sensat.co.uk | Credit: sensat

In themselves, these modern techniques are already a boon to the infrastructure development process. Not only is the greatly accelerated timeline drastically reducing costs, but the integration of digital tools is increasing safety. Where digital tools really create value, however, is in allowing the planning process to be kept in perfect sync with the real project. With a constant influx of real-time data, the planning process is constantly aligned with the actual state of construction. This allows for more accurate provision of resources and ensures that contractors are held accountable to the actual process on the site. Another consideration is that a unified view of the site prevents the risk of siloed working as conversations, calculations and analysis are less likely to be duplicated. Overall, digital tools allow for better decision-making as businesses have all the information they need at hand. These tools can be supported by AI-powered technologies that can easily compute these data-sets to create a comprehensive, real-time data-landscape. This reduces the burden for IT teams as AI does much of the heavy-lifting, allowing them to focus on value-on initiatives.

Already we are seeing modern infrastructure projects deploying some of these digital tools. They’re developing digital twins and using numerous sensors that produce continuous streams of data covering various stages of the construction process. The advantages of these processes should speak for themselves but as their capabilities develop and have more direct applications, it makes increasing operational sense to adopt. For the laggard organisations who don’t, significant losses in efficiency are likely.


Digital Twins, News, Disrupt Infrastructure - 'Digital Twins', the catalyst for real-world innovation.

James Dean

James is a technology entrepreneur fascinated by the way the world works. He founded Sensat in 2017 to enable the greatest step change since the internet; the digitisation of the physical world.

Personalization is the beating heart of successful hybrid cloud

Amber Donovan-Stevens • 27th November 2021

In the post-millennial era of real world cloud deployment, the modern digitally distributed nature of businesses requires a range of infrastructure options to allow each customer to leverage a mix of cloud technologies to best suit their unique needs while optimizing the associated costs. How can we enable this kind of flexibility in the face...

The Best Ten Rated Cloud Security Management Options For Business

Erin Laurenson • 24th November 2021

Cloud Security programs that can carry out safety procedures and address or flag potential high-risk elements are now critical, allowing businesses to function normally without fearing a potential breach. To help you find the best Cloud management and security system for your business, we’ve done the research and found the top systems presently available on...

How the cloud can drive organizational sustainability goals

Amber Donovan-Stevens • 24th October 2021

Mark Hughes, RVP of UK & Ireland, Epicor, explores cloud computing’s implications for organisational sustainability practices and introduces the key findings of Epicor’s survey of technology decision-makers in the US and the UK.xplains how cloud technology can spearhead an organizations sustainability initiatives.