Place-based Digital Twins – Use Cases

By Ron Oren, Connected Places Catapult

Digital Twins promise significant improvement in efficiency of complex systems but are expensive to implement correctly. The sector also suffers from hype, making it harder to identify the best opportunities for deployment of digital twins. 

To help inform the business case for investment in digital twins we have set out sixteen high-level use case themes where digital twins can have a significant positive impact on the design and operation of Connected Places, ranging from real-time vehicle management through improving the design of future air mobility vehicles to dynamic grid load balancing. These use cases span all aspects of Connected Places including mobility, built environment, public spaces and infrastructure.

The specific, tangible form these use case themes will take on will differ somewhat between organisations (dependent on type and sector, but also digital maturity of the organisation). Nevertheless we have identified the broad value propositions, solution map and data requirements for each use case theme. The latter shows that many use cases are restricted by lack of open (or sharable) data: increasing the availability of data is likely to be a relatively quick win to enable deployment of digital twins. 

Reflecting that many organisations may have an interest in multiple use cases, we propose an assessment framework to prioritise use cases by their importance and achievability. The framework comprises 12 criteria that assess the use case itself (e.g. is it strategically aligned, can it be financially sustainable, is the required data available, does it enable decision support at the right timescales and does it enhance efficiency?) and six criteria that focus on the required digital twin to deliver each use case (e.g.  can it ingest data in real-time, can it be scaled, can its features and functionality be gradually augmented?). While this framework has been developed with Catapult aims and objectives in mind, it should be equally applicable across the sector (albeit with weighing of criteria and potentially scoring thresholds adapted to reflect the strategy and mission of individual organisations).