Applying Digital Twins to the Built Environment: SIA Tech Brief

Visual Plan founder and CEO Kelly Watt recently partnered with Security Industry Association (SIA) on an SIA Tech Brief on how Digital Twins can be applied throughout the building lifecycle-not just during pre-construction planning-to influence, expedite and enhance security design upgrade projects and implementation.


Preferably, the digital twin is created first, before or during construction and before its physical counterpart as a design twin. Long before construction begins, the architect creates the first version, and unlike legacy paper design drawings, the digital design can immediately become a simulated physical building. As the drawings and plans change, the digital twin design assets are updated to track construction progress, identify issues, log requests for information and incompatibilities and decide on rework or change orders if needed. Architectural and engineering firms such as AECOM heavily depend on virtual inspection to ensure code compliance during construction to minimize change orders and reduce the number site visits. The digital construction twin is also critical to commissioning, testing and completing punch lists.

The use of photogrammetry is frequently utilized from design through construction, replacing standard job site photography to better monitor change and catalog project stages. Comments and notes are tagged in the 360-degree imagery, providing a quick and effective capture method that requires very little training. A facility manager or design consultant can capture immersive imagery by using a 360-degree camera attached to a hard hat while touring the site. The design twin or construction twin may be associated with project management or scheduling tools, introducing various data points. The goal is to identify these project issues early, preventing costly mistakes and managing the differences between design and build.

For a security professional like Benjamin Butchko of Butchko ESI, digital twins play a role in effective risk assessment, communications with owners and critical thinking to enable effective security design prior to implementation of countermeasures such as surveillance, access control and other real-time sensor technologies.

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