Digital Twin - Philosophy for the new digital revolution

Half of those who read this article were born with technology in their hands, accustomed to a digital transformation as a fact. In the other half we are the ones who witnessed how the computer age came without asking permission; kicking the door and transforming what we did into books, paper or primitive computer terminals that could barely respond to alphanumeric records and linear graphics. What the BIM-focused software currently does, with real-time rendering, connected with a geospatial context, responding to processes attached to a business model and interfaces operated from mobile phones, is evidence of how far the industry's offer was able to interpret the User need

Some terms of the previous digital revolution

PC - CAD - PLM - Internet - GIS - email - Wiki - http - GPS

Each innovation had its adherents, who attached to a model transformed different industries. The PC was the artifact that changed the management of physical documents, the CAD sent the drawing tables to the wineries and a thousand artifacts that did not fit in the drawers, the email became the default digital medium to communicate formally; all of them ended up following standards with a global acceptance; at least from the perspective of the provider. Those transformations of the previous digital revolution focused on adding value to geographic and alphanumeric information, which boosted most of today's businesses separately. The model on which these transformations navigated was global connectivity; that is, the http protocol that we have not been able to get rid of today. The new initiatives took advantage of the information, the conditions of connectivity and turned them into new cultural customs that today we see as Uber, Airbnb, Udemy, Netflix.

But today, we are at the doors of a new digital revolution, which will tarnish all this.

New terms:

Block Chain - 4iR - IoT - Digital Twin - Big Data - AI - VR

While new terms appear to be only acronyms of hashtag fashion, we cannot deny that the fourth industrial revolution is at the doors, materializing separately in many disciplines. The Internet of this occasion promises to be much more; taking advantage of everything achieved so far, but breaking paradigms that are not up to a market that no longer only connects computers and mobiles; It connects activities of human beings in their contexts.

There is not a single oracle that can guarantee how the new scenario will be, although the voice of key industry leaders strongly suggests us, if we adopt a pragmatic stance and awareness of maturity. Some visions, scopes and opportunities of this new revolution, have the opportunistic bias of those who expect to sell today. Governments, in the limited eye of their leaders, usually see just what a business or re-election of their position could represent in the short term, but in the long term it is ironically common users, interested in their needs who have the latest word.

And although the new scenario promises better rules of coexistence, free code living with the private, environmental sustainability, standards resulting from a consensus; nobody guarantees that actors such as government and academia will live up to their role in the right time. Do not; nobody can predict how it will be; We only know what will happen.

Digital Twin - The new TCP / IP?

And as we know that it will happen in such a way that we might not perceive the gradual changes, it will be necessary to be prepared for this change. We are aware that on this occasion prudence and consensus will be unavoidable for those who understand the sensitivity of a globally connected market and where added value not only appears in the stock market indicators but also in the response of an increasingly influential consumer in the quality of services. Undoubtedly, the standards will play their best role to ensure balance between the creative supply of the industry and the demands of the end users.

The Digital Twin aspires to position itself in the philosophy of this new digital transformation.

What does the new protocol aspire to?

For the http / TCIP to become the standard communication protocol, which today remains in force before the evolution of technology and society, it has had to go through a process of governance, updating and democracy / tyranny that the user common unknown. On this side, the user never knew an IP address, it is no longer necessary to type www, and the search engine replaced the need to type http. However, despite the industry's questioning about the limitations of the elderly behind this standard, it is still the hero who broke the global communication paradigms.

But the new protocol goes beyond connecting computers and phones. The current cloud services, rather than storing pages and data, are part of the operation of the citizen's daily life, governments and businesses. It is just one of the reasons for the death of the original protocol, based on IP addresses, since it is now necessary to connect artifacts that go from a washing machine that needs to send a message that has already finished spinning the clothes, to the sensors of a bridge whose Real-time monitoring should inform your fatigue status and need for maintenance. This is, in an ignorant version, of what we call the internet of things; to which a new protocol must respond.

The new protocol, if it wants to be standard, must be able to interconnect more than real-time information. As a scope, it should include all the existing and new built environment, as well as the interfaces with the natural environment and the service provided in social, economic and environmental aspects.

From a company's approach, the new standard must closely resemble a digital representation of physical assets; like a printer, an apartment, a building, a bridge. But more than its modeling, it is expected to add value to operations; so that it allows to make better informed decisions and therefore to better results.

From the perspective of a country, the new protocol needs to be able to create ecosystems of many connected models; like all the assets of a country, in order to release more value by using that data for the public good.

From the productivity approach, it is necessary that the new protocol be able to standardize the life cycle; simplified to what happens to all things, materials such as a road, a plot, a vehicle; immaterials such as a stock market investment, a strategic plan, a gannt diagram. The new standard should simplify that all of them are born, grow, produce results, and die ... or transform.

The digital twin aspires to be that new protocol.

What does the citizen expect of the new Digital revolution.

The best scenarios of how it will be in these new conditions, is not to think about what Hollywood announces to us, of the people inside a dome governed by an elite that controls the activity of survivors of the post-apocalyptic world where it is no longer possible to determine the augmented reality of induced simulation; or at the other extreme, a fantasy setting where everything is so perfect that the emotion of human entrepreneurship was lost.

But something must be imagined of the future; At least for this article.

If we see it in the aspiration of the two great users in a front-back office scheme, whom we will call interested parties. An interested party that needs to be well informed to make better decisions, and a citizen that requires better services to be more productive; remembering that this interested party can be a citizen individually or in a group acting from a public, private or mixed role.

So we talk about services; I am Golgi Alvarez, and I need to build an extension to the third floor of my building; that my father built in 1988. For now, let's forget terms, marks or acronyms that make this scenario dirty and let us base ourselves on the simple.

Juan Medina occupies that this request be approved in the shortest time, at the lowest cost, with the greatest transparency, traceability and with the least amount of requirements and intermediaries.

The authority needs to have enough information to approve this decision in a secure way, so that it is traceable who, what, when and where it is submitting an application: because once it approves this decision, it must have at least the final status of the change made , with the same traceability it offered. This responds to the premise that «The Convergence of intelligent infrastructure, modern construction methods and the digital economy present increasing opportunities to improve the quality of life of citizens".

The value that data takes in this scenario, goes beyond having a single ultra-detailed virtualized model of the entire physical world; rather, we talk about having connected models according to the purpose of the workflow intervenors:

  • The citizen that what he needs is an answer (a procedure),
  • who authorizes needs a regulation (geospatial zoning),
  • the designer responds for a design (Model BIM to be),
  • a builder responds to a result (plan, budget, plans),
  • the suppliers that respond to a list of inputs (specifications),
  • the supervisor that responds to the final result (BIM as built model).

It is clear that having the interconnected models must simplify the intermediaries, being able to automate validations that in the best of cases are a self-service of the end user; or at least, transparent and traceable, reduced to the minimum steps. In the end, what the citizen needs is to have the authorization and build; while the government approve according to its regulations and obtain information on the final state. So, the connection between the front-back office models is just at these three points, which add value.

The owner carried out the construction he expected, the Government guaranteed that the work was done in compliance with the regulations and without major effort guaranteed to keep his information updated. The variant is only in the purpose.

Although for the executor, designer and supplier of materials the added value are other aspects; but in the same way those relationships should be simplified.

If we see it from a vision of models, this application that we have made to a construction could be standardized for similar procedures: a sale of property, a mortgage, request for a loan, license to operate a business, exploitation of natural resources, or update of an urban planning plan. The variants are in aspects such as scale and approaches; but if they had the same domain model, they should be able to interconnect.

Digital Twins, aspires to be the model that allows to standardize and connect multipurpose representations, with different spatial scale, temporal scale and approaches.

What can we expect from the Gemini Principles.

The previous example is a simple case applied to a management between a citizen and an authority; but as seen in the final paragraphs, it is necessary that different models interconnect; otherwise the chain will be interrupted in the weakest link. For this to happen, it is necessary that the digital transformation includes the entire environment built in a general way, so that a better use, operation, maintenance, planning and delivery of national and local assets, systems and services is guaranteed. It must bring benefits for the whole society, the economy, business and the environment.

For now, the best inspiring example is that of the United Kingdom. With its proposal of Fundamental Gemini Municipalities and its road map; but before we call friends to always go against the tide and their historical habit of always wanting to do everything in a different but ceremoniously orderly way. To this day, British standards (BS) have had a high impact on standards with an international reach; where the work of current initiatives such as i3P, ICG, DTTG, UK BIM Alliance is respectable.

In consequence with this particularity of the United Kingdom, we are surprised by what the Digital Framework Working Group (DFTG) is launching, which brings together key voices from government, academia and industry to reach a consensus on fundamental definitions and values Guidance necessary to shore up the digital transformation.

With the presidency in charge of Mark Enzer, the DFTG has signed an interesting effort for the creation of the Framework that grants effective information management throughout the built environment, including secure data exchange. This work, to date has two documenots:

The Gemini Principles:

These are a guide to the "awareness" values ​​of the information management framework, which includes 9 principles grouped into 3 axes as follows:

Purpose: Public good, Value creation, Vision.

Trust: Security, Openness, Quality.

Function: Federation, Healing, Evolution.

The Roadmap.

This is a prioritized plan to develop the information management framework, with 5 streams that keep Gemini principalities in a transfer way.

Each of these currents are has its own critical path, with concatenated activities but they are interdependent; as it is displayed on the graph. These currents are:

  • Scope, with 8 critical tasks and 2 non-critical tasks. Key as its definition is necessary to activate the enablers.
  • Governance, with 5 critical tasks and 2 non-critical tasks. It is the current with less dependencies.
  • Common, with 6 critical and 7 non-critical tasks, it is the most extensive.
  • Enablers, with 4 critical and 6 non-critical tasks, with a lot of interaction with change management.
  • Change, 7 critical tasks and 1 non-critical. It is the current whose critical path is a conductive thread.

As you can identify in this scope, you are not merely thinking of the United Kingdom as your own Brexit of digital transformation, or your taste for driving on the left lane. If you want to promote a digital twins connection model that has a national scope, it is necessary to propose something that can align the industry, especially in terms of standards. The following elements stand out in this regard:

  • 1.5 Alignment with other initiatives.

The acronyms of this element are more than enough, to respect this bet; ISO standards, European standards (CEN), alignment with Innovate UK, Building SMART, W3C, BIM UK, DCMS, i3P, DTTG, IETF.

  • 4.3 International reach.

Here we talk about identifying and managing a lobby with programs, initiatives and opportunities in the international context with synergies. Interesting, that they have in their consideration the learning of good practices of countries that are already trying; including the possibility of consolidating an international knowledge exchange group, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Canada.

The female document called the Gemini Principles, to achieve the key consensus among the main industry leaders, would become what was «Cadastre 2014» at the end of the 2012s, which established phylophic aspects for land administration, which later doe Consensus works with initiatives such as INSPIRE, LandXML, ILS and OGC, became as of 19152 the ISO-XNUMX standard, known today as LADM.

In this case, it will be interesting to see how great leaders in the technology industry who have brought their own models achieve consensus; In my particular point of view, they are key:

  • The SIEMENS group - Bentley - Microsoft - Topcon, which in a way make up an almost complete scenario in the Geo-Engineering cycle; capture, modeling, design, operation and integration.
  • The HEXAGON group - which has a set of quite similar solutions with an interesting scope in a portfolio that is segmented in agriculture, assets, aviation, conservation, defense and intelligence, mining, transport and government.
  • The Trimble group - which maintains an equivalent to the previous two, with many advantages of positioning and alliance with third parties, such as ESRI.
  • The AutoDesk group - ESRI that in a recent effort seek to add portfolios of markets in which they are predominant.
  • Also other actors, who have their own initiatives, models and markets; with those who need to clarify their participation and consensus. Example, General Electric, Amazon or IRS.

So, like when my father took me to the rodeo to see how cowboys dominated the bull, from our pen we have only to notice what we visualize. But it will surely be a great tournament, where the one that achieves consensus is bigger, where getting aligned adds more value than the stock points in the stock market.

The role of BIM as Digital Twins

BIM has had a high impact and continuity in a considerable period, not because it facilitates the digital management of 3D models, but because it is a methodology that was agreed by the great leaders of the architecture, engineering and construction industry.

Again, the end user is unaware of many things that happen in the backroom of the standards; as an ArchiCAD user who could say that he already did it before he was called BIM; partly true, but the scope as a methodology at levels 2 and 3 goes beyond managing interchangeable information, and aims at managing the operation and life cycles not only of infrastructure but also of context.

Then then comes the question. BIM is not enough?

Perhaps the biggest difference from what Digital Twins poses is that connecting everything is not just connecting infrastructure. Thinking in interconnected global contexts implies connecting systems that do not necessarily have a geographic modeling. So, we are only in a new stage of context expansion, where no one will take away the paper that has fulfilled and continue to comply with the BIM methodology, but something higher up will absorb or integrate it.

Let's see examples:

When Chrit Lemenn sought to bring the Core Cadastre Domain Model to a standard for land administration, he had to find a balance with INSPIRE guidelines and the technical committee of geographic standards. So, like it or not,

  • In the context of INSPIRE, ISO: 19152 is the standard for cadastral management,
  • As for the topographic classes of the LADM, they must comply with the geographic standards of OGC TC211.

LADM is a standard specialized in land information. Therefore, although the LandInfra standard includes it, it breaks the search for simplicity, since it is preferable to have a standard for infrastructure and one for land, and link them at the point where the exchange of information adds value.

So, in the context of Digital Twins, BIM could continue to be the methodology that governs standards for infrastructure modeling; Level 2, With all the complexity of detail that design and construction needs. But the operation and integration of level 3, will lead to a more simplified trend for integration by added value and not a whim that everything must be spoken in the same language.

There will be a lot to talk about; the value of the data, the breaking of barriers, the open knowledge, the performance of the infrastructures, the successful creation, operation ...

«The Convergence of intelligent infrastructure, modern construction methods and the digital economy present increasing opportunities to improve the quality of life of citizens”

Who manages to group the key actors behind this philosophy, understanding the importance of the public good, the economy, society and the environment ... will have greater advantages.

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