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As big as it gets: Earth Digital Twin

DestinE a dedicated Data Lake: a pool of data building on the federation of distributed data sources at the core of the Destination Earth Digital Twin mirroring Europe. Image credit: DestnE

Last Thursday I was on a call with fellows co-authors working on a Digital Twins book to be published end of 2021. The topic debated by these “experts” was: what is the correct definition for Digital Twin. The discussion that raged for over an hour just demonstrated the old adage that

there is no problem so simple that could not be mede impossibly complex provided a sufficient number of people are involved to discuss it

The best definition that I heard, at least for me, was that a Digital Twin is a “Digital” “Twin”!

However, the discussion clearly pointed out the growing latitude of the Digital Twin concept, as they arre being used in more and more fields in many different ways. This different fields of application and the diverse ways of (and reason for) using them twist them so that they can fit the specific need.

As a matter of fact, how could you expect the same definition of Digital Twin to apply to something as (potentially) small as an IoT in the same way it can apply to a city (like Singapore) or a continent. Indeed, the EU has launched the initiative Destination Earth that aims at creating a Digital Twin for Europe – a digital version of Europe. As shown in the graphic the idea is to leverage on the variety of data representing various aspects of Europe – digital model(s), consolidating them all into a data lake that is continually updated to mirror the status of “Europe” – digital shadow, keep track of changes – digital thread.

If you feel just a continent is a little thing consider the recent WEF article proposing the creation of a Digital Twin to mirror the whole planet climate. I guess it can’t get much bigger than that (although the universe is way way bigger, but there may be lesser motivation for creating its digital twin – for that a digital model is sufficient).

This Planet Digital Twin will be embedded with AI -reinforced learning- acting as a planet simulator operating in real time, receiving data from the planet wide network of climate sensors (including the millions used for weather forecast).

Notice that we have had for several years now digital models of many “things”. What is happening is the increasing capability to connect these models to the physical reality, in quasi real time, and the availability of software (AI) that can finely tune these models based on the data gathered from the field. We no longer have static models, rather we have digital twins. More than that: we can “use” these digital twins performing in the cyberspace actions that were required in the physical space and only at the very end pass on requests to the physical twin to execute some actions in the physical space.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.

One comment

  1. As inventor Nikola Tesla said: “When wireless is perfectly applied, the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain…”