Digital twins: a brief introduction
A virtual mirror that helps us understand and shape the physical worldIn brief, a digital twin is a virtual copy of a real-life asset, process, or system. It might represent an individual building or piece of machinery, a supply chain, or even an entire city.
Importantly, the digital twin is built using accurate, relevant data from the real world. It combines various concepts, technologies, and data sources to give a clear, meaningful view of the subject in all its complexity and show how it changes over time.
For example, it might integrate data from your ERP with IoT sensor readings, and feeds from GIS and weather intelligence, so you can see how weather patterns affect asset usage and plan accordingly.
But a digital twin can do more than just help us to understand the physical world as it exists today. It can also be used for predictive simulation, to forecast the potential outcomes of decisions and compare possible scenarios – informing choices and helping us shape the physical world.
You could use one to optimise maintenance schedules, aid climate resilience planning, or compare potential traffic or water flows.
As digital twins grow in maturity, they can move from descriptive duties – collecting and visualising data – through real-time monitoring and prediction, to prescriptive and transformative roles, where they propose interventions and communicate machine to machine, to achieve the best result.