Bringing U.S. infrastructure investment into the 21st century with Digital Twins
3D digital twins can save costs and ensure that government funds are used efficiently to create lasting improvements. Here is how.
In November 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) into law. The IIJA allocates $1.2 trillion to infrastructure projects in the U.S., aimed at improving and maintaining roads, bridges, railways, waterways, internet access, and electric grids. Technologies like digital twins and contextual 3D models are one way to ensure that funds are used efficiently, meaning that we can minimize costs while maximizing results.
Building the future of the U.S.: a comprehensive look at infrastructure investment
Infrastructure investment has been crucial for the growth of the U.S. economy. The construction of the U.S. Interstate Highway System in the 1950s, for instance, not only provided new transportation infrastructure, but it also catalyzed suburban development and lead to the creation of new business centers. Today, reliable and efficient infrastructure is still crucial for attracting businesses and supporting economic growth in urban and rural areas alike. At the same time, aging systems and inadequate infrastructure limit the development potential of many regions while costing states and individuals money.
In short, infrastructure investments accelerate economic growth, create jobs, and they increase quality of life. The question is: How can the effectiveness of such investments be maximized? Enter 3D digital twins.
Efficient infrastructure investments thanks to Digital Twins
Digital twins play an important role in the future of infrastructure development and maintenance. Our highly accurate 3D models, for instance, provide detailed interactive representations of physical structures, which allow everyone involved to truly understand the project and ultimately take better decisions. At the moment, we are working on a project that will improve the monitoring of train stations across Germany, but there are also some general advantages of using digital twins in any infrastructure project:
Avoid costly mistakes
With up-to-date and highly accurate 3D models, investors and developers can simulate various scenarios and test the infrastructure before any physical construction takes place. This can help identify issues early on and reduce costly changes later in the process.
Improve project outcomes
With a digital twin, architects and designers can test concepts and simulate various environmental conditions, such as lighting and acoustics, before construction begins. This can help identify problems and improvements on time, adapt the project accordingly, and ultimately lead to a better overall outcome.
By providing a detailed and interactive representation of the infrastructure, 3D digital twins can improve communication between stakeholders, from the comfort of their desks. This can help prioritize projects, avoid misunderstandings and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Before construction begins, 3D models can be used to simulate different scenarios and identify any safety hazards. This can help ensure that the site is safe for workers and future occupants.
3D digital twins can be used to create realistic and immersive virtual tours of projects. This can help secure acceptance among those affected by the project.
See it in action:
3D model of a train station infrastructure project
Billions of savings in infrastructure maintenance
Next to their use in construction, digital twins also hold immense cost-saving potential down the road. Huge sums are spent each year inspecting and maintaining infrastructure. Deferring maintenance only makes things worse: a recent paper published by the Volcker Alliance suggests that infrastructure repairs that are put off might end up costing the U.S. one trillion dollars or more. Timely maintenance could reduce this sum, but inspecting infrastructure manually is of course also costly. In the U.S., bridge inspections alone cost $1.35 billion a year. So, what if there was a better way to recognize and plan for maintenance needs?
Digital twins allow us to monitor and observe how infrastructure is affected over time. They can be integrated with additional data so that infrastructure engineers could for instance simulate the impact of traffic, wind or other environmental factors. In this way, predictive rather than reactive maintenance becomes possible. To give an example, the use of digital twins in the Maharashtra Metro project in Nagpur, India is estimated to save more than $222 million over the next 25 years thanks to better monitoring and maintenance. More generally, a recent study by the Construction Industry Institute documents that projects using 3D models experience a 5% reduction in cost growth, additionally, costs caused by rework are reduced by 64%. In other words, digital twins can future-proof infrastructure investments and save costs not just mid- but also long-term.
Nomoko’s expertise with 3D technology
Overall, 3D digital twins have the potential to revolutionize the way we invest in infrastructure development. By reducing errors, avoiding costly changes, and identifying potential improvements, digital twins can help ensure the success of projects and support economic growth and development. At Nomoko, we’re passionate about doing exactly that by putting to use our expertise in creating 3D digital twins of the real world.
Let’s work together to create the infrastructure of tomorrow and beyond!