Research Field: Policy & Planning
Decision making in an airport environment is often complex and time consuming. Many decisions involve numerous stakeholders and considerable resources and can include an element of unanticipated adverse impacts if a less-than-optimal decision is made. "Digital twins" are detailed virtual representations of a facility or system that are kept up to date with real-time data. The most advanced examples are supported by machine learning and reasoning. Digital twins allow for speedier and more confident decision making, enabling not only a better understanding of how a system currently operates but also how it might operate under different parameters. Although initially limited to the domain of manufacturers and engineers, digital twins are being being employed in an ever-widening array of settings. Since airports often consist of a complex set of interactive systems, the potential value of digital twins for airports could be significant. Yet the development, operation, and maintenance of a digitial twin will require a significant investment of resources, and research is needed to help airports understand the potential benefits of digital twins and the steps to implement and maintain a digital twin for their airport.
The objective of this research is to develop guidance and tools for airports to evaluate the potential benefits that a digital twin might provide for decision making, identify which aspects of the airport could be included, and develop a digital twin that is scalable to their unique needs.