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Digital twins: Catalyst for transformative infrastructure



The value of digital twinning for infrastructure

Digital twins came to maturity two decades ago with simulated modeling in manufacturing. In infrastructure, a digital twin is a digital representation of an asset or process from the physical world, enabling an increased ability to gain deeper insights and make better decisions through processing vast volumes of big data, identifying intricate patterns and correlations, and automating decision-making.

From upstream capital planning through to asset operations, digital twins can be used to drive better infrastructure decision making by providing more intelligent scenario planning and options analysis. A digital replica of a roadway with sensors to monitor road traffic, for example, could help operators identify existing traffic bottlenecks, enabling future decisions that help reduce traffic, wait times, and redundant investments.

Research suggests that governments can achieve approximately US$9 return on investment for every US$1 spent on digital twins for infrastructure. KPMG professionals see UK’s National Underground Asset Register (NUAR) as an example of a digital twin, which reports a return on investment of 30:11. Digital twins could help governments reduce design costs by 50 percent, cut construction permitting times in half and reduce overall maintenance costs by a fifth2. That means infrastructure gets delivered faster, at a lower cost and higher quality.

The value of digital twins grows exponentially as systems and inputs integrate. But it is only when digital twins start to communicate with each other, that complex relationships between assets and opportunities for system optimization, such as by enhancing public safety response, healthcare or city planning, are revealed.

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