After two years of virtual events there was palpable excitement at Bentley Systems’ Year in Infrastructure and Going Digital Awards hosted as a hybrid in-person and online event, November 14-15, 2022, in London. Bentley executives shared insights about digital advancements in infrastructure and provided updates on technology innovations and Bentley applications. The spotlight was on Bentley’s much-awaited global competition Going Digital Awards that recognizes digital advancements in infrastructure.
On the second day of the Year in Infrastructure Conference I had the opportunity to interview the man of the moment – Greg Bentley. Articulate and softspoken he provided a complete overview of the compass pointing at the digital twin opportunity. This blog captures the highlights of the interview.
Empowering Sustainable Development Goals (ESDG)
When companies talk about environmental, social, and governance, the E focuses on measuring a company’s environmental footprint. In contrast, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals – SDGs – focus on sustainable outcomes, providing a framework and direction for business policies and purpose. Bentley seeks to combine both and empower SDGs through infrastructure digital twin solutions. ESDG binds together infrastructure engineers. “It’s part of the mentality of being an engineer – you want to do something constructive. It is so special and galvanizing, it’s very effective,” said Greg. Investors are interested and committed to ESDG.
How are Bentley’s tools and solutions helping to achieve the ESDG goal?
The answer would be carbon calculation as that is one of the validations that you need to do across the project; this can’t be done discipline by discipline or zone by zone, because carbon in one place can trade off with carbon in another place. The iTwin Platform to consolidate and aggregate for design review is necessary to do that, and it is effective to be used by carbon calculators. “It does work and will make a difference and as a natural fallout will accelerate the digital twin,” said Greg. Not only do infrastructure engineers want ESDG, but they want to measure and quantify the progress.
How is iTwin technology combined with iTwin IoT, and has that already been implemented?
iTwin IoT is available now. There is greater interest by engineering firms to monitor digital twins. On the AssetWise side, such as for bridge inspection and dam monitoring, these shouldn’t be complete solutions. They should be more like starter kits on which firms should add their own proprietary solutions. Further, Greg spoke about finalist projects and acquisitions and collaborations with other companies for infrastructure IoT and environmental monitoring. In the future, attention can be focused on choosing the right combination of sensors/algorithms that can be quickly implemented in Bentley’s dashboard.
Often, questions are asked about competitors in digital twins and monitoring with strong hardware portfolios. But, Greg replies, “Digital twins require a combination of hardware and software, but we’d rather be best-of-breed on the software side.” So, while the competition has their own hardware it might be an advantage to use Bentley’s software. BSY investment groups are prepared to make minority investments in largely hardware companies; but that’s simply because the company is incubating and contributing to that ecosystem.
Are all aspects of ProjectWise and AssetWise on the iTwin Platform?
The iTwin Platform is adding capabilities to ProjectWise and AssetWise and one of them is managing the reality mesh data in an elegant manner. This includes the Bentley infrastructure schemas, so iTwin empowerment means introducing data schemas to ProjectWise and AssetWise that have to be consistent across the project lifecycle and for validation checks.
Digital twin technology five years from now
The compass points in the direction of cell towers. When it comes to digital twin technology, cell towers are already five years ahead. Cell towers are mostly owned by specialized companies but now they rent space to carriers. The same ownership structure should be followed in plants and metro stations, for example, to surge ahead.