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YVR launches its digital twin, making people and community the center of its digital transformation

North America’s best airport is using data to solve challenges and support the future growth of the region

Today, Vancouver Airport Authority continues its long history of innovation by launching its digital twin. Leading the way for airports in North America, YVR’s digital twin is the first major marker out of YVR’s Innovation Hub and will transform how the airport serves employees, passengers, and the community. 

YVR recognized the pandemic as an opportunity to expand its role in B.C.’s economy and rethink the meaning of digital transformation for an airport. YVR will leverage the digital twin to not only improve passenger experience and logistics but lead innovation outside of aviation, making YVR more than an airport by way of becoming the region’s Gateway to the New Economy.

YVR’s digital twin platform is exactly what it sounds like — a virtual, real-time interactive representation of YVR’s terminal and airfield located on Sea Island, the traditional and unceded territory of Musqueam. The platform was designed as a people-first technology, making its value limitless for YVR’s front-line workers, designers, and community. It’s a digital tool that allows training, optimization, future planning, simulation, testing, and more by visualizing data. Through the integration of sensors, historical and real-time data into the platform, the digital twin can present key information through 2D or 3D visualization, enabling data-driven decision making and collaboration which has never been available before.

“At YVR, we want our people to have the tools they need to succeed in a dynamic environment and the digital twin technology solves many airport-related challenges,” said Lynette DuJohn, Vice President, Innovation and Chief Information Officer at YVR. “For example, if there’s congestion at any check-in point, an alert is generated which we can click into to see a live information about what is going on. This allows our operations and security team to address potential issues with corrective action, allowing our employees to find efficiencies through technology, creating a better experience for travellers.” YVR’s Digital Twin technology is developed in part with Unity, the world’s leading platform for creating and operating real-time 3D (RT3D) content, Vancouver-based GeoSim Cities, experts in large-scale precision 3D modelling, and Thynkli, a local company providing expertise in digital business transformation.

Another way YVR is trialing the use of its digital twin is through modeling aircraft movements and activity on the airfield to reduce GHG emissions, as part of YVR’s initiative to become the World’s Greenest Airport. Additionally, together with Musqueam, YVR is not only providing training and skills development opportunities for Musqueam but exploring the possibilities in digitizing the airport’s Indigenous art collection, starting with Susan Point’s Welcome Figures. In doing so, YVR will be further actioning the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)and responding to the Truth and Reconciliation call to action number 92 – Business and Reconciliation.

“YVR is more than an airport. We are looking to expand our role and connect our community and economy to data, ideas, and new technology. While the COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent hit to the aviation industry, accelerated our desire for digital transformation, our vision for the digital twin is bigger than our operation, it’s centered around people – our employees, passengers, our Musqueam friends and the community we serve” said DuJohn.

YVR has the potential to solve challenges outside of aviation or even other industries around the world. In the coming months, YVR, its partners, and stakeholders will advance ideas and action solutions, supporting the community and delivering industry disruption through the endless use-cases developed through the digital twin. YVR’s digital twin serves as a digital learning ground for Innovation Hub @YVR, a platform through which YVR will connect and collaborate with local businesses and our community to lead the economic recovery in B.C.

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