A sustainable future is on the horizon with Digital Twins and AI

Someone shaking hands with an AI through a laptop screen.
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Sustainability is a top priority for all organisations today—for example, one-third of Europe’s largest companies have pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, according to Accenture. Yet the firm also found that enterprises must significantly accelerate their efforts over the next decade, as just 9% of companies are currently on track to achieve this goal.

One way organizations can reach net zero and address other sustainability efforts is through the combined power of digital twins and AI. The technologies provide companies with unparalleled insights into their operations that can then inform sustainability improvements and help them achieve climate goals. For example, digital twins can be used to test various scenarios and help companies determine the best strategies for reducing energy consumption and emissions.

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Technology advances accelerating Digital Twin adoption

Of course, digital twins have already been deployed in various ways. For example, helping healthcare researchers create highly accurate models of the heart, lungs, or other organs to improve clinical diagnoses, education, and training. The energy industry also offers numerous use cases for digital twins, including building digital models to guide oil drilling efforts in real-time.

But recent technology advances in simulation and modelling capabilities, increased deployment of IoT sensors, and a more widely available computing infrastructure mean that companies can increase their reliance on digital twins. And when organizations augment digital twins with AI, they can realize additional benefits—for example, running simulations to investigate "what-if" scenarios and gain a deeper understanding of cause and effect.

There are numerous examples of how these technologies can enhance operations, including their ability to inform a greener world. With that in mind, below are a few use cases that demonstrate how digital twins and AI are driving sustainability improvements across industries.

Cheryl Ajluni

Cheryl Ajluni is Director of Industry Solutions at Keysight.

Smart industry

By 2025, 89% of all IoT platforms will include digital twins, transforming how industrial and manufacturing facilities operate and providing granular insights to enhance sustainability efforts. Examples include:

  • Investigating ways to reduce energy consumption through a deeper understanding of where energy loss is occurring
  • Using predictive analytics to determine how emissions could be reduced by making various changes
  • Conducting risk assessments to identify operational weaknesses that could lead to accidents with an environmental impact

Smart Cities

City planning, management, and optimisation is another area poised to transform through the combined power of digital twins and AI. These smart cities offer numerous benefits—addressing food insecurity, increasing mobility, and helping identify criminal activity to name just a few. Smart cities also have much to offer in the form of addressing sustainability goals.

With digital twins and AI, city governments can understand, quantify, and predict the impact of their decisions on the environment and test potential scenarios to determine the most environmentally beneficial situation.

As carbon neutrality becomes a priority for cities across the globe, expect the usage of digital twins and AI to increase.

Smart buildings

Just as digital twins and AI can help city sustainability efforts, they are also increasingly being utilized to create smart buildings. The technologies ensure sustainability is top of mind from the outset, enabling construction managers and other stakeholders to develop virtual representations that can evaluate a building’s anticipated carbon footprint during the design phase.

Becoming a more sustainable industry and, ultimately, planet has been an elusive goal for the last several years. But with recent advances in AI and increased adoption of digital twins, this vision is poised to be realised. Now is the time for organisations to harness the combined power of these technologies to obtain insights at every stage of operations that will support a more sustainable, less carbon-intensive economy at a micro-level—and a greener world overall.

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Cheryl Ajluni is Director of Industry Solutions at Keysight. Prior to that, she worked as editor-in-chief for magazines like Electronic Design and as an engineer in the aerospace industry.