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The National Digital Twin programme was created to guide industry towards building a smarter nation that improves lives and creates a more sustainable planet for the public good.

The UK is establishing itself as a world leader in the development and application of digital twin technology. A significant milestone was reached in July 2018, when HM Treasury launched the National Digital Twin programme (NDTp), hosted by the University of Cambridge. In 2022, the DT Hub in collaboration with the NDTp takes this work forward in an Industry/Catapult Network partnership housed at the Connected Places Catapult.

The NDTp mandate from Government is to fulfil recommendations set out in the National Infrastructure Commission’s 2017 Data for the Public Good Report. The report underlines the importance of creating a National Digital Twin (NDT) to increase infrastructure resilience, reduce disruption and delays, optimise our use of resources and boost quality of life for citizens.

What is a National Digital Twin?

Individual digital twins are already being constructed across the country, creating efficiencies and better outcomes through improved use of data. The NDTp is creating the building blocks to enable these isolated twins to connect and form an ecosystem of interconnected digital twins. Each connection takes us one step closer to creating a National Digital Twin and unlocking the immense value of sharing high-quality, secure data.

The vision is not a huge singular twin of the entire built environment. Instead, it is an ecosystem of connected digital twins, or a ‘federation’ of digital twins, joined together via securely shared data.

Serving the public good

The NDTp has undertaken a collaborative and transparent approach to aligning the digital twin community and ensuring best practice and progress are shared. All aspects of the programme have a social-technical perspective, with the goal of empowering others to advance change and embrace connected digital twins within their own organisations.

Founded on the Gemini Principles, the aim is to serve the public good: interconnected data sharing leads to better insights, learnings and decision-making, with huge benefits in creating a more efficient, sustainable and cost-effective built and natural environment.

NDTp’s objectives

  • Enable a National Digital Twin – an ecosystem of connected digital twins to foster better outcomes
  • Deliver an Information Management Framework – to ensure secure resilient data sharing and effective information management
  • Align a Digital Framework Task Group – to provide coordination and alignment among key players

Programme collaborators

The NDTp formed as a collaboration across industry, academia and Government. Senior leaders from across the industry joined the Digital Framework Task Group which acted as an advisory group for the NDTp.

In the new phase, focus falls on the DT Hub as one of the NDTp's key components, and whose work will be driven forward under the guidance of a DT Hub Strategic Board, with its diverse technology and market experiences.

The National Digital Twin programme will be an enabler of something important and long-lasting – an information value chain that delivers better social, economic and environmental outcomes in the UK.

Mark Enzer
Former Head of the National Digital Twin programme
and Chief Technical Officer at Mott MacDonald

Benefits of the National Digital Twin

Society

Transparent stakeholder engagement. Better outcomes for the ultimate customers - the public – taxpayers/bill payers/fare payers/voters. Improved customer satisfaction and experience through higher-performing infrastructure and the services it provides.

Economy

Increased national productivity from higher-performing and resilient infrastructure operating as a system. Improved measurement of outcomes. Better outcomes per whole-life pound. Enhanced information security and thereby personnel, physical and cyber security.

Business

New markets, new services, new business models, new entrants. Improved business efficiency from higher-performing infrastructure. Optimised delivery efficiency, benefiting the whole value chain – investors, owners, asset managers, contractors, consultants, suppliers. Reduced uncertainty and better risk management.

Environment

Less disruption and waste. More reuse and greater resource efficiency – a key enabler of the circular economy in the built environment. Key to addressing global environmental concerns such as NetZero. Impossible to solve in silos – only through an interconnected approach can progress happen.

Programme components

To make the vision of the NDT a reality, we need to have the right components and practices in place. Having accomplished a lot of the groundwork, the first phase of the programme focused on developing three areas:

The Digital Twin Hub

A web-enabled collaborative community for early adopters or future users of digital twins from across the spectrum of industry, academia and policy.

Go to the DT Hub community

An Information Management Framework

To establish a common language by which digital twins can communicate securely and effectively, covering everything from information governance to standards and security.

Go to the IMF

The National Digital Twin Climate Resilience Demonstrator (CReDo)

A project to examine the impact of extreme weather on energy, water and telecoms networks, and how a collaborative, data-sharing approach can improve their resilience to climate change.

Go to CReDo

NDTp progress towards a National Digital Twin

2018

Gemini Principles

A paper setting out the proposed principles to guide the national digital twin and the information management framework that will enable it.

2018

DFTG roadmap

A prioritised plan for five core streams responsible for the delivery of the information management framework.

2019

Digital Twin Hub

A web-enabled community for early adopters of digital twins to learn through sharing and progress by doing

2020

Flourishing Systems

A paper advocating a shift in vision for infrastructure that is people-focused and system-based

2020

Pathway towards an IMF

A technical paper and a summary paper on the proposed technical core for the Information Management Framework

2020

Gemini Programme

This programme developed resources for the DTHub community and expanded the outreach of the Information Management Framework and of the NDTp itself.

2021

Skills and Competency Framework

A paper outlining the skills and competencies needed across a range of relevant roles to achieve a National Digital Twin.

2021

Climate Resilience Demonstrator (CReDo)

A specific example of connected digital twins across water, power and communications infrastructure – connecting data to create unified map to highlight areas of interest, working towards flood impact modelling.

2022

DT Hub Community Council

The launch of an advisory council, giving a voice to the DT Hub community in its journey towards an ecosystem of connected digital twins.

2022

Gemini Papers

These published papers are a vision for the future, showcasing the vital role that connected digital twins play in improving social, economic, and environmental outcomes, to create a better quality of life for all.

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