The National Academies

ACRP 03-66 [Pending]

Guidebook for Digital Twin Programs at Airports

  Project Data
Funds: $350,000
Contract Time: 18 months
Staff Responsibility: Matthew J. Griffin

Decision-making in an airport environment is often complex and time-consuming, involving numerous stakeholders and considerable resources, and can result in unanticipated adverse impacts. “Digital twins” are detailed virtual representations of a facility or system kept up-to-date with real-time data. The most advanced examples are supported by machine learning and reasoning. Airports can leverage digital twin technology to build resilience and improve the visualization and situational awareness of their complex environment, leading to optimized business performance and enhanced decision-making.
The development, operation, and maintenance of a digital twin will require a significant investment of resources. Airports need help understanding the potential benefits, range of requirements, and the steps for implementing and maintaining a digital twin.
The objective of this research is to provide a guidebook for airports to understand the concept of digital twins and the potential stakeholder benefits, and develop a roadmap for implementation of a digital twin program. The guidebook and roadmap should be scalable to airports of all sizes and accompanied by an executive summary for airport leadership.
The guidebook should address and/or include, at a minimum:
  • A glossary of terms;
  • An introduction and definition of digital twins;
  • The range of requirements (security, legal, data systems, functionality, personnel, budget, training, etc.) for implementation of digital twins;
  • An overview of current data visualization techniques, platforms, and technologies;
  • Explore partnerships for both funding and data sourcing;
  • General use cases for digital twins focusing on different airports functions (i.e., landside, terminal, airside, and cargo operations);
  • At least four (4) specific airport case studies incorporating airports of various sizes, technological maturity, etc.; and
  • At least one (1) case study from outside the aviation industry.
Make sure to address the following elements in the roadmap, at a minimum:
  • Identifying and developing a digital twin use case template;
  • Identifying and collecting necessary data, both real-time and historical;
  • Incorporating predicative analytics tools;
  • Reporting and using the outcomes to make decisions;
  • Program governance including data and platform ownership; and
  • Program maintenance and upgrades.
The ACRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are asked to provide a detailed research plan for accomplishing the project objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective. The work proposed must be divided into tasks and proposers must describe the work proposed in each task in detail.
The research plan should include appropriate interim deliverables, for ACRP and panel review and approval that include, at a minimum; (1) a literature review and data collection plan; (2) a white paper, within 3 months of the contract’s effective date, discussing the general use cases for digital twins focusing on different airport functions (i.e., landside, terminal, airside, and cargo operations), and the case study plan; and (3) an interim report that describes work done to date including an annotated outline of the guidebook and a draft of the roadmap. 
The research plan should also include checkpoints with the ACRP panel, including at a minimum (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the Notice to Proceed and (2) one face-to-face interim deliverable review meeting, as well as web-enabled teleconferences tied to the panel review and ACRP approval of other interim deliverables deemed appropriate.
The final deliverables will include: (1) a guidebook; (2) the implementation roadmap; (3) an executive summary for airport leadership; (4) a contractor’s final report; (5) Summary of Key Findings; (6) a Further Recommended Research Memo; and (7) a technical memo titled, “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”.

STATUS: Proposals have been received in response to the RFP. The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.

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