There are also several indirect benefits for the nation.
The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of reducing crowds in public places. Considering the huge workload on transport infrastructure like highways, buses and rail, any concept that can reduce daily travel is important. Digitalising infrastructure management and maintenance can help by reducing the need for inspectors and technicians to travel to projects.
Reduced travel, by reducing emissions, benefits public health and the environment.
What is being done in Australia?
In Australia, researchers from the School of Engineering at RMIT are developing digital twins for use in intelligent maintenance of almost all infrastructure across the nation.
Our current focus is on bridge and port infrastructure. However, soon we’ll be able to use the developed models for railways, water and wastewater pipelines, LNG, oil and gas pipelines, offshore platforms, wind turbines and power transmission towers.
RMIT researchers have also developed a cloud-hosted asset management platform, Central Asset Management System (CAMS). It uses discrete condition ratings given to components of infrastructure through inspections. We can use these ratings to develop predictive models to aid proactive planning and decision-making on civil infrastructure.
The system is being used commercially for property assets. Many public-private partnership clients are using the system for life-cycle modelling of buildings.
Proofs of concept have been completed for bridges, drainage and local council infrastructure. Funded research is in progress for road pavements and rail.
We are working on integrating live monitoring of infrastructure to progress the platform towards creation of digital twins. The system is available for trial by any interested infrastructure owners who wish to contact us.
This work represents a significant step in developing smart cities. It will help create a safer and healthier community.