How A Digital Twin Protects Your Security Network

by John Gallagher | Aug 23, 2017 2:36:00 PM

As the Internet of Things grows, adding devices in myriad industries onto IP networks, the ability to leverage a digital twin to maintain these devices becomes a more and more attractive option--simpler to use and more cost-effective to implement. But a digital twin is relatively new technology, and many don’t understand how to use it or what benefits it can provide.

First conceived of in 2002, a digital twin-- a digital representation of a physical object, located on the cloud and fed by sensor and other data-- is a solution to some very old problems: how to ensure you’re notified when problems occur on your system, how can you easily identify the cause of these problems, and how can you efficiently fix them when you’re operating remotely. As more and more devices are networked, and more data is available on the usage, maintenance, and functionality of these devices, digital twins can be more complex and accurate than ever before, and have begun providing functionality of their own.

The benefits of installing a digital twin are abundant: the most apparent benefit is that doing tests on a digital twin negates the need do those tests on your physical system. With accurate and up-to-the-minute information from a digital twin, there is no need to send a maintenance worker out to test your system to determine the source of a problem. Doing the test on a digital twin, your maintenance team has the same information they would get from physical inspection in an organized, searchable, and pinpoint-accurate digital interface. This not only vastly reduces the time these maintenance operations take, but also reduces the possibility of human error. With a digital twin, it’s much less likely that the problem will be misidentified. Instead, your team has accurate, recent data that covers the entirety of a system, gathered by the system itself.

In order to find the source of an issue on your system, a maintenance team would often need to be provided with access to your system. Without an in-house maintenance process, this is often a security risk, requiring someone outside your business acquiring physical access to your security system or providing them with a VPN to access the network. With a digital twin, there is no need to leave yourself at risk of breaches by providing access to those outside your business-- your own system monitors itself, and alerts you to any issues. A digital twin allows you to keep maintenance in-house without enlisting a permanent team.

Using a digital twin to pinpoint problems also reduces the need for downtime on your system. Should you identify that an issue is occurring with a camera, for example, it might be difficult to tell from traditional troubleshooting from where the problem is originating-- with the camera itself the wiring, the software, or any other part of that area of the system. Testing every part of that system would result in massive downtime as you inspect every possible origin of a problem, and often necessitate a drawn-out, iterative solution as you tested each part of the system to see if the problem was solved. With a digital twin, you’re alerted to where the issue is occurring by the data your system has amassed, and you won’t have to take the system down for an extended period of time, and won’t replace a costly camera only to find out that the problem was with the wiring.

With more security systems able to move to fully digital, IP solutions, taking advantage of a digital twin is now a possibility for a variety of systems and technologies, nowhere more so than in the security industry. A digital twin, providing you with a digital copy of your physical system, allows you to run tests, perform fixes, and be alerted to issues in a manner that is cost-effective, time-efficient, and in-house. With a digital twin, there’s no need for iterative fixes that take your system down, and it’s easier to solve issues accurately and as they crop up. Now that the move to IP has done the heavy lifting in taking the security industry to the digital age, it’s time to take advantage of the capabilities the digital age offers.

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