As a native of Turin Italy, I was horrified at the Ponte Morandi bridge collapse last year. As a child and as an adult I have travelled over that bridge more times than I can imagine and have often pondered the what-if scenarios. What if it had happened when I or my loved ones were travelling on that bridge? As a chartered construction professional, I ask myself, what could have been done, what should have been done and what can we do to prevent this from happening in the future?
Having access to a digital twin with an integrated understanding of the way the bridge was designed, built and performed over the last 50 years and being able to run “what if” scenarios would have allowed us to have a much greater understanding of the structure and its limitations in its context. This is where I believe a digital twin of any built asset is a step in the right direction.
The digital twin has been proclaimed by many as a milestone innovation in the construction industry, with huge benefits to constructors and owners of assets through efficiencies in manufacturing and operation but also to attracting users of the spaces they replicate. However, digital replicas can take a broad range of forms depending on its purpose, use and application sparking debates among professionals on what they actually are and what represents a ‘true’ twin.