C+S February 2023 Vol. 9 Issue 2 (web)

and processes accurately defines most architecture, engineering, con - struction, operations, and maintenance processes. Further, it is helpful to reflect on Aldous’s comment about Doppelgangers; it is essential to consider the end-user, in his case, the human or software analyzing the accuracy of doppelgangers. With engineers in mind, let us further demystify Digital Twins by con - sidering simple yet crucial workflows that are part of their daily lives. As engineers, we adhere to a Quality Management System (QMS) that validates our work products. Engineering work products, plans, reports, and calculations are legal documents backed by a sign and seal. Moreover, as engineers, we are bound by our engineering ethics to produce work products for the public’s greater good. However, to this day, most engineering work products are analog artifacts; even when they are digital, they do not meet the rigor of the Quality Control of analog products. Currently, the practice of requiring Models as Legal Documents (MALD) is minimal. A National Academy of Sciences report noted that only 13 percent of the Department of Transportation (DOT) Agen - cies required MALD (See Figure 1.0 below; fifty-one percent of the DOTs use models for information only, and the remaining thirty-seven percent do not use 3D Models. In any design project, there are two critical components. The first is designing new or improving existing infrastructure. However, ad - hering to QMS processes is equally important. Quality Control and Quality Assurance are essential parts of any QMS. The first is the

Dictionaries define doppelgangers as an apparition or a lookalike of a living persons. We understand the presence of doppelgängers as a rare phenomenon. So much so that its occurrence is commonly un - derstood in folklore as a paranormal spectacle. While we do not view twins as paranormal phenomena, we still consider them out of the ordinary. So, what does an article on Digital Twins have to do with Twins and Doppelgangers? Depending on your perspective, even the existence of doppelgängers is more common than our imagination. There is a one in 135 chance of an exact pair of doppelgängers in our world of eight billion people. Crucially, statistician David Aldous makes a very astute point about understanding doppelgangers: “it depends whether we mean ‘lookalike to a human’ or ‘lookalike to facial recognition software.” In the recent past, Digital Twins have paradoxically become popular and misunderstood. In concert with the rise in popularity of the Digital Twins, so too have the attendant misunderstandings. The views sur - rounding them range from simplistic to almost paranormal. So, what is a Digital Twin? A simple and realistic meaning that I prefer is the definition from the Digital Twin Consortium. They define a Digital Twin as “a virtual representation of real-world entities and processes, synchronized at a specified frequency and fidelity.” Let us pause to think of physical infrastructure; we can think of it as parts that make up roads, bridges, buildings, and, importantly, associ - ated processes involved in engineering, constructing, operating, and maintaining them. Therefore, a Digital Twin as a composition of assets Digital Twins ain’t no Doppelgängers Demystifying Digital Twins, proceeding as if Models are legal documents By Anand Stephen, PE

Figure 1.0


February 2023



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