A digital twin is a virtual representation of a real-world physical system, building or product (a physical twin) that serves as the indistinguishable digital counterpart of it for practical purposes, such as system simulation, integration, testing, monitoring, and maintenance. A digital twin can, be used in real time and regularly synchronized with the corresponding physical system.
Visualization technologies such as augmented reality (AR) systems are being used as both collaborative tools for design and planning in the built environment integrating data feeds from embedded sensors in cities and API services to form digital twins.
In the built environment, partly through the adoption of building information modeling (BIM) processes, planning, design, construction, and operation and maintenance activities are increasingly being digitised, and digital twins of built assets are seen as a logical extension.
Digital twins have also been proposed as a method to reduce the need for visual inspections of buildings and infrastructure after earthquakes by using unmanned vehicles to gather data to be added to a virtual model of the affected area.