The 2018 midterm elections are over, and the split U.S. Congress will need to find ways to work together to accomplish goals that benefit the American people. Historically, infrastructure is one of those issues that can get buy-in from both sides of the political aisle--Democrats and Republicans--because an investment in the nation's infrastructure often equates to an investment in its future economic success. President Trump has made some big promises, but the Federal Government's next move in infrastructure investment remains to be seen. Meanwhile, in the private sector, businesses are investing in technology that can advance infrastructure design, construction, and operations. Bentley Systems, a provider of software solutions to the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industry, at the Year in Infrastructure 2018 Conference in October, announced the release of its iModel.js
Digital twins have become one of the most talked about topics because of their promise to leverage innovation to improve design, visually enhance collaboration, and increase asset reliability and performance. However, rail is a very traditional and safety-sensitive industry, and with the backdrop of owner-operators and project delivery firms needing to work within tighter budgets, shorter deadlines, and with increased legislation, change can be slow and challenging. While the risks associated with changing a tried-and-true formula weigh heavily on the minds of those responsible, the upside is that the highly complex nature of rail networks and systems allow for the opportunity to innovate and leverage technology to change the way rail networks do business. Many owner-operators around the world have recognized the potential for digital twins in their work and have begun to explore the opportunities for applying big data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) throughout the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of rail and transit networks. What Is a Digital Twin?
Sometimes listening to an update call is more than a revenue report update on the recent acquisitions and technology advancements being announced by a company; it's really about the vision of the leader at the helm. And that was my takeaway after the May 13, Bentley Systems Spring Update conference call for press and analysts. If you listened to Greg Bentley, CEO, Bentley Systems, closely enough you were able to read between the lines and grasp how it plans to move the construction industry forward with a highly informed construction professional using only the best in tech tools to drive infrastructure. According to Bentley, with all the right tools in hand from machine learning, reality modeling, drone data acquisition, the future is upon us now. And as a result, what role will the "digital integrator" become in making key buying decisions?
Imagine the potential benefits of having a nearly complete digital replica of a city -- a virtual model of its roads, buildings and public spaces -- combined with real-time information feeds from sensors and other data sources. Residents could visualize the impact of new construction before breaking ground. First responders could run computer simulations to prepare for potential emergency scenarios. And city planners could better analyze and respond to local energy and environmental changes. The advancement of several technologies, including the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), has made it possible to create "digital twins," or virtual replicas of objects, processes or places from the physical world.
The world wants more infrastructure--a lot more. Whichever forecast you read, the numbers are staggering. By 2020, China will have completed installation of 31,000 miles of high-speed rail networks. By 2030, homes will need to be built to accommodate an additional 165 million urban dwellers in India. And by 2040, 4,400 GW of additional power-generation capacity will need to be created to meet worldwide demand for electricity.