You are currently viewing What is Digital Twin? – Part 1

What is Digital Twin? – Part 1


Digital Twin refers to a virtual model or digital replica of living or non-living physical entities. In general, the term is linked to smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0.

The concept of the twin is back to Apollo program 1960s. NASA created “twins” of the Command Module, Lunar Module and Lunar Rover. The twins all stayed on the ground but were used extensively for maintenance, support, and troubleshooting.

Back to literature, the term used for the first time in by NASA in 2012 state “Digital Twin an integrated multi-physics, multi-scale, probabilistic simulation of a vehicle or system that uses the best available physical models, sensor updates, fleet history, etc., to mirror the life of its flying twin” (Shafto et al., 2012).

Recently, with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), the term has gained in popularity. In addition, many large corporations (e.g., Microsoft, IBM Watson, Cisco, Siemens, GE) are showcasing the current and potential applications of Digital Twin in the industry.

Digital Twin Definition

The common definition is “digital replica of a physical asset”. But, what does digital twin do?

This is important “it activates data, to power better decision making

So, the fact is digital twin is not only a digital replica of a physical asset. It’s way more beyond that. Digital Twin is the data that supercharges its value, it helps users do more with less, and provide them with insights, scenarios and representations.

What is Digital Twin of a Building?

It’s a digital replica of potential and actual physical assets, processes, living entities, spaces, systems, and devices in a building. Digital Twin of a building lights up operator and users with data and information to optimise building performance and improve the decision-making.

The twin model must have static and dynamic data integrated to power up building :

    • Static could be the information model of the building.
    • Dynamic is how we collect operational information throughout building life cycle.

So, I would say Digital Twin of a building is a bridge between both Physical & Digital world that enables building users to monitor & control building entities, send and receive data, and continuously inform the user about the actual state of the asset.


    • It is a term not a tool.
    • A bridge between Physical & Digital environment.
    • The term used for the first time by NASA in 2012.
    • A digital representation of static and dynamic data.
    • It is the data that lights up users.

I would like to leave you with some YouTube videos.


SHAFTO, M., CONROY, M., DOYLE, R., GLAESSGEN, E., KEMP, C., LEMOIGNE, J. & WANG, L. 2012. Modeling, simulation, information technology & processing roadmap. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


What to do?

  1. Subscribe to our newsletter.
  2. Follow our pages on social media and LinkedIn.
  3. If you are interested or you want to have a private discussion about this article leave a comment or you can drop me a message on LinkedInFacebookTwitter, Instagram or use the Contact Page.


  • Mustafa is an Architect & Researcher in the Built Environment with a specialisation in Digital Architecture and Sustainability. He is expert in computer modelling, simulation, reality capturing technologies and Internet of things. Throughout his career, he designed domestic and non-domestic buildings. His latest research has focused on Digital Twin, Advanced Digital Technologies, simulation tools and VR/AR visualisation to support Built Environment Applications.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Keep yourself updated with latest Research and Innovation in the AEC industry

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Reply