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March 26, 2020

NTT Corporation

“4D digital platform™”; integrates various sensing data in real time and enables future predictions

NTT Corporation (Head Office: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; President & CEO: Jun Sawada; hereinafter "NTT") has undertaken the research and development of "4D digital platform™". It integrates various sensing data such as humans, things and environments in real time into high-precision spatial information, enabling fusion with various industries' platforms and the construction of future predictions.
4D digital platform would be one of the key elements of Digital Twin Computing, a part of NTT's Innovative Optical and Wireless Network (IOWN) initiative.1, 2
We intend to leverage NTT R&D and NTT Group technologies and assets toward sequential commercialization beginning in FY2021, with future expansion through ongoing R&D efforts.

1. Background and objectives

As advocated in the Society 5.0 concept proposed by Japan's Council for Science, Technology and Innovation and the Cabinet Office in the 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan, the collection of data from a broad range of sources and their integration and analysis in a digital space--the merging of physical and cyber space--could contribute to the resolution of social issues and the creation of value.
NTT's Digital Twin Computing initiative also aims to achieve not only extremely advanced and profound communications, but large-scale, high-accuracy predictions and simulations of the future. This would be achieved by exchanging, converging, replicating and synthesizing highly precise digital information reflecting real-world objects such as things, humans and societies.
However, in the linkage of sets of statistical data or the matching of misaligned position and time data, there are cases in which the accuracy of future predictions cannot be heightened. With an eye toward societal implementation, the issue is the collection of sensing data in real time, and the matching and fusing of the position and time with a high degree of accuracy.
Our proposed 4D digital platform would resolve this by making it possible to precisely integrate position and time information from sensing data while also providing latitude, longitude, height and time data useful in future predictions.

2. About 4D digital platform

As shown in Fig. 1, 4D digital platform integrates sensing data in real time into the Advanced Geospatial Information Database with its highly precise and abundant semantic information, and performs a variety of high-speed analyses.

(1) Development of the Advanced Geospatial Information Database as a control point for 4D digital platform

  • For further improvement of position accuracy for existing maps utilizing map business data and know-how.
  • Development of high-definition 3D spatial information primarily for roads by applying infrastructure management data and know-how such as MMS (Mobile Mapping Systems).

(2) Real-time sensing data collection with highly accurate position and time information

  • Real-time collection of accurate sensing data by combining a high-speed, low latency network such as 5G, and high-precision global navigation satellite system (GNSS) positioning and time synchronization technologies such as Smart Satellite Selection®, even in urban areas. 3
  • Precise integration of sensing data into the Advanced Geospatial Information Database using mapping technology.

(3) High-speed processing of large-volume data, and future prediction with various simulations

  • High-speed search and analysis of large-volume data sent simultaneously from moving objects by employing real-time spatiotemporal data management.
  • Optimization simulation, future prediction and behavior modification utilizing AI technologies.

Figure 1. Conceptual Diagram of 4D digital platform Figure 1. Conceptual Diagram of 4D digital platform

3. Value proposition of 4D digital platform

4D digital platform enables the integration of various sensing data on spatial information while ensuring the consistency of position and time information, and linkage with data from ICT platforms of various industries. This makes it possible to accurately ascertain the position of moving objects and to construct a variety of predictions, thereby offering the value shown in Fig. 2

Figure 2. Value Proposition of 4D digital platform Figure 2. Value Proposition of 4D digital platform

4. Activities planned for the short term

NTT will promote R&D activities related to the technologies necessary for 4D digital platform toward sequential commercialization beginning in FY2021. In parallel with this, from FY2020, NTT will undertake the development of Advanced Geospatial Information Database in the collaboration with ZENRIN (Head Office: Kitakyushu-shi, Fukuoka; President & CEO: Zenshi Takayama) by leveraging high-precision map development know-how.4
Furthermore, beginning in FY2020, NTT will collaborate in the development of an infrastructure management platform with NTT InfraNet (Head Office: Chuo-ku, Tokyo; President: Yoshihiro Kuroda), Proof-of-Concept for building and city block management with NTT Urban Solutions (Head Office: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; President & CEO: Hiroshi Nakagawa) and Proof-of-Concept for social infrastructure solutions with NTT DATA (Head Office: Koto-ku, Tokyo; Representative Director, President and Chief Executive Officer: Yo Honma).

5. Prospects

As part of the Digital Twin Computing initiative, we will promote initiatives toward the use of 4D digital platform across a range of industries together with partners from various fields and customers.
In addition, we would promote R&D for the precise sensing of the land using an optical lattice clock proposed by Professor Hidetoshi Katori with the Graduate School of Engineering,5 The University of Tokyo (UTokyo, H.Q.: Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, President: Makoto Gonokami, concurrently Chief Scientist at the RIKEN Center) and an ultra-high precision optical frequency fiber network jointly developed by the NTT Group with the University of Tokyo and RIKEN, as well as by leveraging NTT's telephone office and fiber network.6

6. Notes

  1. "Digital Twin Computing" is a new computing paradigm which expands on the conventional digital twin concept by enabling humans and things in the real world to be recreated and interact without restrictions in cyberspace with "digital twin operations" - computations to exchange, converge, replicate and synthesize multiple digital twins.
  2. IOWN (Innovative Optical and Wireless Network) is a future communications infrastructure to create a smarter world by using cutting-edge technologies like photonics and computing technologies.
  3. Smart Satellite Selection: NTT's proprietary GNSS satellite signal selection algorithm, which selectively rejects multipath signals from invisible (non-line-of-sight) high-latency satellites.
  4. (press release) Promotion of Collaboration by NTT and ZENRIN Co., Ltd. Based on a Capital and Business Tie-up
  5. An optical lattice clock is a type of atomic clock proposed in 2001 by then Associate Professor Hidetoshi Katori of the University of Tokyo. Atoms are confined in small spaces measuring tens of nanometers (a nanometer is one billionth of a meter) created by an interference fringe of laser light (called an "optical lattice") tuned to a special wavelength called the "magic wavelength." An optical lattice clock employing thousands of atoms can realize high-precision frequency measurements with short averaging times.
  6. (press release) Experimental demonstration of ultra-high precision optical frequency transfer via 240-km-long telecommunications fiber.

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