Primers guide the use of satellites and digital twins in IIoT

digital twin, 5g, big data, iot
Sheila Zabeu -

August 24, 2022

The Industry IoT Consortium (IIC), a global non-profit partnership between industry, government and academia established in 2014 with a mission to build a technical foundation for the development of the Industrial IoT (IIoT), has for the first time included information on satellite connectivity in its Industrial Internet Networking Framework (IINF) guide. In addition, the entity has teamed up with the International Society of Automation (ISA) to publish a document on how to secure industrial automation and control systems that use digital twins.

The IIC guide helps IIoT application developers design, deploy and operate network solutions by providing guidance on Internet Protocol (IP) technologies, lower layers and features such as management and security. The latest update of the material includes specific guidance on satellite communication technologies in place of terrestrial networks, which can be technically and economically unfeasible.

Today it is already possible to use satellites to connect IIoT devices distributed over vast areas, remote and underpopulated areas or even over seas and oceans. “The main advantage of satellites over terrestrial networks is their wide coverage on a regional and continental scale. While it is challenging to target budget for IIoT device links, satellite technologies can help as a direct radio network. They can also serve as a backhaul technology for wireless or wired networks at any altitude,” highlights David Lou, co-chair of IIC’s Network Task Group and Chief Innovation and Strategy Officer at Huawei.

Increased security

In another IIC initiative, this one in the area of security, the institution announced with the International Society of Automation a new IoT maturity model for Digital Twins users (IoT Security Maturity Model (SMM) Digital Twin Profile). This framework extends the previously published set of guidelines and enables those designing and deploying digital twins to understand how to better assess and achieve the appropriate security maturity for these systems.

“Digital Twins are not simply software, and can be connected and synchronised with real critical assets. This material is the result of collaboration between IIC and the Digital Twin Consortium to explore what is unique to digital twins in the context of IoT security maturity,” explains Ron Zahavi, coauthor of the model and executive director of the DTC.

Both consortia highlight that Digital Twins are a virtual representation of real processes and entities, synchronised in frequency and fidelity, generating specific security concerns, besides other generic considerations. Hence comes the need to understand Digital Twin systems, how they relate to assets and organisational boundaries, and the scope and function of frequency and fidelity synchronisation.

“Digital twin technology is becoming central to digital transformation, and it is important to understand how to achieve security maturity when using it. This framework will enable a better and faster understanding of the issues related to security maturity for digital twin systems,” says Frederick Hirsch, coauthor of the model and co-chair of the IIC Reliability Task Group.

The latest document brings together eighteen practices in the area of security maturity, which address everything from security programme management to data protection, remediation and recovery.

In an interview with Business Insider, Suprakash Chaudhuri, Director, Digital Industries, Siemens India, recounted that despite the adoption of digital twins in all kinds of organisations, the manufacturing space is where it is most exciting. Digital Twins can be simple yet an immensely powerful interpretation of Industry 4.0. They can generate consistent efficiency improvements, minimise failures, reduce development cycles and open up new business opportunities – in other words, they create lasting competitive advantages.

Gartner expects that more than two-thirds of companies that have implemented IoT solutions will also have at least one digital twin in production by 2022.