News about senior leaders’ training in digital twin capabilities.
An important part of our work at the DT Hub, through our governance and operations teams, is to get involved with the community, find out its needs and drive forward projects like the Gemini skills programme that will help make a difference. The Gemini activity is a good example of how we link with DT Hub working groups to realise change.
As a quick recap, the Gemini initiative is being developed by the DT Hub and the community to address the skills gap as a barrier to digital twin adoption.
But how do we know there is a skills gap?
We hear that it is a challenge faced by all industries and at different levels, with the strongest evidence noted in the government response to its Cyber-Physical Infrastructure Consultation in 2022. It reads:
‘Skills was highlighted as a critical enabler across the breadth of technical and non-technical. From data engineers, software and hardware developers, systems architects and security experts, to organisational change, legal, procurement, and cross-domain skills, there was recognition of both the existing and growing needs.’
Not only do we have this, but we also have a directive. The response highlights the convening power of the DT Hub to help advance the cross-sector vision for connected digital twins in its section on Frameworks, guidance and standardisation, and identifies Skills as a critical enabler, using the Cranfield Digital and Technology Solutions MSc as its case study.
This summer, the DT Hub formalised a partnership with Cranfield University, and, building out from Cranfield’s MSc, began a series of discussions with asset owners and infrastructure providers.
The team also went back to the policymakers and consulted with those in the wider industries where digital twins can provide solutions.
In working with these groups, we have been able to create a model that will deliver focused training at different levels.
You can see from this diagram, how the DT Hub is creating a skills development framework, built on existing skills and competency frameworks, from the Centre for Digital Built Britain and others, to address different depths and scales of learning.
Our recently launched Data and Digital Twins elearning course, and the Gemini skills training course, called Digital Twins for Senior Leaders, sit in the Awareness and Working areas of knowledge development.
Our recent focus has been on leaders and future leaders in roles that will influence decision-making and organisational change.
The senior leaders’ course addresses the digital twin skills gap by creating understanding and consensus in the market about digital twins, aligning demand and supply for digital twin competency and by encouraging systems thinking as a solution.
Of interest to the DT Hub community is how we can take the course and tailor it to specific sectors. We are creating a pilot programme and first cohort of a transport focused course.
The course will deliver the What, Why and How of digital twins, as required by senior leaders in the transport sector as it builds towards key Outputs in the TRIB Vision and Roadmap to 2035.
The training will be a starting element on the route to the Roadmap’s Skills and Capabilities Outcomes, to enable DfT’s vision. It will help leaders understand the critical importance of digital twins, considering areas where they give benefits, for example, infrastructure decarbonisation, autonomous vehicle safety, digital local roads, and how they will help to keep pace with the rate of digital change.
The support of DfT and the approach we are taking for this pilot will mean that we can focus on sector-specific use cases, and also bring in universal examples of good practice across other sectors. It paves the way for further bespoke cohorts, based on a core curriculum of learning.
The core course works across the Gemini Principles, Gemini Papers and outputs from CDBB, the National Digital Twin Programme, knowledge from the DT Hub community, including case studies and insight, plus research outputs from Cranfield, and recent elearning on Data and Digital Twins.
It brings in knowledge and expertise from academic and industry experts across the international field. Our intention is that this training becomes a baseline for competency in digital twin skills.
A few more words on the pilot and what the attendees will gain from it, far more than the Cranfield and Gemini certificate and digital badge.
The pilot course is bringing together groups of delegates from DfT, Network Rail, Arup and Anglian Water, as examples. Each week it answers important questions and give senior leaders, the skills and knowledge founded on the Gemini Principles and recognised frameworks. At the same time, it will allow them to build a business canvas, a real strategy and a value framework to take back to their businesses, and accelerate change.
The course runs online for an hour and a half each week across eight weeks. It will launch fully on 1 February 2024.
We are continuing to explore needs to structure further training across our skills model.
Please contact me if you would like further information, or follow the link to register interest.
National Cyber-Physical Infrastructure ecosystem event blog
Nearly 200 delegates gathered in London and online for the launch of a new community designed to encourage a cross sector approach to the future development of cyber-physical systems in the UK and beyond. Experts were in agreement that common data-sharing standards, greater interoperability and a systems-based approach to innovation is vital to build a sustainable and productive future for the UK economy, society and environment.
Advanced AI enabled cyber-physical systems such as digital twins, the metaverse and autonomous robotics and machines, will shape the future of digitalisation and the internet. These systems will be built and connected together using common building blocks, including advanced technologies and new principles, protocols and standards. Building a multi-disciplinary approach with cross-cutting capabilities for the UK will be critical to solving systemic challenges such as climate change and building greater resilience in global supply chains.
These emerging new capabilities promise great opportunities for society, but industry partners must agree on data sharing arrangements, and new business models for interoperability and openness to maximise the value of innovations, delegates at the launch of the National Cyber-Physical Infrastructure (NCPI) ecosystem heard on 16 November.
The NCPI ecosystem is a new cross-sector collaboration that aims to build a shared vision for how we develop and connect cyber-physical systems and break down siloed innovation. It is led by Digital Catapult, Connected Places Catapult through the Digital Twin Hub, and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult; with funding and support from the UK Government's Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.
Systems and applications discussed at the event included connected digital twins, robotics and the metaverse – and it was stressed that enhancing the value of each will depend on professionals in various disciplines working together.
“We are here to listen to you, and we want your input as to how you think this programme should flow, and behave over the next 18 months,” said the Digital Twin Hub Chair, Dr Alison Vincent at the start of the session.
“Collaboration is the key to true innovation: it drives diversity of thought, removes duplication, and speeds up innovation,” she added. “As digital twins develop and monitor data from robotics, there is a growing need to collaborate to speed things up.”
The DT Hub, Alison continued, is working hard to help leaders better understand data and digital systems, improve their knowledge of legal data sharing agreements, and help professionals build business cases for connecting digital twins between sectors. “What is critical here is the interconnectivity between these different systems,” she added.
Mark Enzer, Vice Chair at the Digital Twin Hub explained that the key to unlocking the value of cyber-physical infrastructure is to recognise the importance of “making connections between people, organisation and communities”.
He added: “By making connections between digital twins, we can move towards understanding our systems better and intervene more effectively. This is not about isolated technology – the value comes from an ecosystem making connections.”
The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology’s Director for Emerging Technologies and Regulatory Innovation, Hannah Boardman told the event that developments in cyber-physical infrastructure will be driven by industry and academia, with Government support “to ensure systems are connected in a secure and trustworthy way, and demonstrate their advantages to a wider audience”.
“Collaborations are absolutely critical to achieving this, and the key question for us now is how we connect and grow this activity, and work towards a shared cyber-physical future, where the convergence of different technologies allows us to use exciting things in the real world.
“It is great to see the launch of the National Cyber-Physical Infrastructure ecosystem. I encourage as many of you as possible to get involved.”
Hannah was followed on stage by Digital Catapult’s Director of Strategy and External Affairs, Philip Young. “Cyber-physical infrastructure is a really important part of how we collectively address techno-social challenges, and we are entering a period when new capabilities are being built,” he remarked.
“When we look at innovation across the UK and globally, there is a tendency to consider investment in specific technologies, sectors or challenges. But the important thing is to build bridges across sectors: creating investment, impetus and drive towards achieving goals together.”
Philip added that he firmly believes that collaboration within the National Cyber-Physical Infrastructure ecosystem can create a “fantastic vision to change the way we approach innovation and research and development; galvanising how the country works”.
Opportunities and challenges
A panel discussion followed, involving the Head of the National Digital Twin Programme Alexandra Luck; the Climate Resilience Demonstrator (CReDo) Engagement Lead, Sarah Hayes; the LEGO Group’s Global Lead for Digital Policy, Adam Ingle; and Innovate UK’s Head of Cyber-Physical and Digital Twins, Simon Hart.
Alexandra said that that National Digital Twin Programme is developing a data sharing infrastructure, that combines technology and process, to support the creation, management and sharing of information “in ways that are trusted, secure and resilient”, as well as “developing the underpinning rules of the road, to enable people to bring together the digital twins they will need for their particular use cases”.
She added it is essential that the programme does this in a way that allows people to realise benefits through the use of these technologies and processes, at a pace which is consistent with the level of technical capability and resources which they have access to. She also stressed that the work of the programme will enable digital twins, individually and when connected, to be appropriately safe, secure, trustworthy and ethical, as well as adaptable, sustainable and interoperable.
Sarah Hayes agreed that data needs to be inter-operable among users across all sectors. “If we have that underpinning infrastructure, then it creates more of a level playing field to develop robotics, AI and Internet of Things capabilities that sit on top of it. People can then be much more creative, and not worry about how they are going to share data. Having a common understanding of data sharing infrastructure should enable competition to flourish.”
Adam Ingle spoke about LEGO’s move towards online play and interaction between users in the metaverse. “We have a growing and substantial digital portfolio. For us, the key questions are how do we build a platform that is safe for children to use – with adequate protections in place for them – and what does that look like in a digital world.”
Moving forwards, he said he would like to see a “very clear regulatory framework that enables seamless play”.
Simon Hart told the session that digital infrastructure will allow society to get the best value out of physical assets, many of which were built by the Victorians. But until now it has not always been easy. “For SMEs to develop a great product that is going to help decarbonise electricity, for instance, they need access to data.” He added: “There is an enormous appetite from the SME community to use AI to solve challenges and create products and services. One of the challenges we need to overcome is to improve access to data.”
The event saw nearly 200 participants in person and online, with discussion in a hybrid afternoon workshop on developing frameworks, guidance and standardisation, value creation, interoperability, security and resilience and skills.
The event activities, themes and outcomes will be summarised in a report, later this year.
Read the launch press release.
Benefits of federated transport digital twins for network management and incident response
Call for evidence from the DT Hub community
The Digital Twin Hub and Arup are conducting a study on the potential benefits to the UK economy of federated transport digital twins. We are focusing on the benefits realised by linking different modes (such as road and rail) or authorities to each other, especially regarding operations and dynamic management. The study aims to provide robust insights to support transport authorities, operators, government, and industry players. While the focus is on transport, we are also interested in any quantified benefits this would enable to other sectors, such as energy or manufacturing.
We are soliciting input to this work from the Digital Twin Hub community, inviting any examples or case studies that were enabled by federation or the sharing of data between different parties/organisations especially in the multimodal transport setting. We are interested in the key benefits that such sharing realised, i.e. the value that this unlocked over and above un-federated digital twins.
Please complete the short form to capture your input.
Cyber-Physical Infrastructure Review
Update from Simon Hart, Head of Digital Twins and Cyber-Physical Infrastructure at Innovate UK
Cyber-physical infrastructure connects data, infrastructure, robotics and services. It is the vast interconnected web of intelligent systems across the UK. It is not a single thing, a single data source or asset, but an interconnected system of systems that has the potential to improve our lives and tackle some of the greatest challenges to humanity.
Cyber-physical infrastructure means digital systems interacting with physical assets. The concept is simple, but the implementation is complex. To truly decarbonise our energy system, we must accept that new dynamic sources of energy, storage and consumption will rapidly become connected, but how will we ensure that these work together for the public good?
We want to identify and manage traffic on our rail networks. How can we do this without access to information and data?
Security of data is paramount, so how can we make real-time data about the movement of people through a city be available in a safe and secure way to develop better healthcare services for that population?
These are some of the challenges for the development of cyber-physical infrastructure.
Last year, Innovate UK funded collaborative projects at six different Catapult centres across the UK. We ran workshops with UK experts in digital research infrastructure and engaged with start-ups experts and government stakeholders to capture their needs. See my earlier blog: How we created the cyber-physical infrastructure.
Faster commercialisation, cheaper development, and more effective collaboration of innovative ideas
Innovate UK has been proud to work with Henry Fenby-Taylor to review the progress made so far. This review showcases project examples, demonstrating how cyber-physical infrastructure can be applied in various contexts and domains.
Project examples are:
DOME and 5G Marine Portal, providing offshore wind developers and operators with a unique platform to demonstrate and test virtual solutions
Transport Research Innovation Board (TRIB) Vision and Roadmap to 2035, a vision for an ecosystem of connected digital twins to support decarbonisation and improved performance of UK transport systems
Apollo Protocol, a collaborative framework to aid the development of digital twins across different sectors
National Digital Twin Programme (NDTP), an R&D programme to develop standards, processes, and tools to enable a functioning market in digital twins.
Over the coming months we will work to gain a greater understanding of business needs and opportunities for the National Cyber-Physical Infrastructure ecosystem. It is an exciting time for the innovation community and I look forward to working with you.
The Fenby-Taylor Cyber-Physical Infrastructure Review, published on 16 November 2023, is accessible to everyone and I would encourage innovators, leaders and collaborators to read it.
Hold Wednesday 29 November in your diaries for the National Digital Twin Programme Industry Day
From 09.30-12.30 at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), One Great George Street, London
The National Digital Twin Programme is the centralised government-led effort committed to growing national capability in digital twinning technologies and processes throughout the country. The Programme is holding an Industry Day on 29th November 2023 at ICE, One Great George Street to showcase the work of the programme and its demonstrator programme, to discuss its forward direction and to highlight how industry partners can get involved. Places can be booked here.
A standard approach to implementing ESG strategies and accelerating sustainability goals
Fabrizio Cannizzo, Chief Architect, IOTICS
Organisations worldwide are embracing Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategies, recognising their importance for sustainable business operations and societal progress. Technology is essential for accelerating these strategies, but traditional solutions have their limits. A standard approach, focused on data centricity and data interoperability, is preferable to any single-vendor turn-key solution. This approach offers numerous benefits, including improved visibility and insights, enhanced collaboration, and reduced costs. It can also help organisations achieve their sustainability goals faster and more sustainably.
Organisations face several challenges that impact the choice of technologies that implement ESG strategies
● Siloed data: Data sourced from different parts of an organisation may not be integrated, making it challenging to obtain a complete picture of an organisation's ESG performance.
● Proprietary data: Data may not be available for sharing, or organisations may not want to relinquish control to access their data.
● Data scalability: Organisations may possess extensive data that hinders cost-effective sharing. What organisations might prefer is to share information or insights derived from processing some data in-situ.
● Process alignment: Merely sharing and exchanging data may not be sufficient to align organisational processes to comprehensively tackle ESG goals.
Data silos, proprietary constraints, and scalability issues often compound the challenges faced by organisations. As the ESG landscape continues to evolve, organisations need to seek more adaptable, accessible, and comprehensive technological solutions.
Limitations of vendor-specific solutions
Private initiatives, such as Microsoft's Sustainability Cloud and Common Data Model, have emerged as popular solutions for driving ESG strategies. They provide an integrated framework for capturing and reporting ESG metrics, making it easier for organisations to track their sustainability efforts. Yet while these tools offer considerable benefits, they also come with some limitations.
They are not universally adopted
These private initiatives, while comprehensive, are not universally adopted. Their use is often limited to organisations that already use the specific vendor’s products. As a result, a significant number of organisations that use different tech stacks are unable to leverage these solutions. This lack of universal adoption leads to fragmented and inconsistent ESG reporting and tracking, hindering holistic progress towards sustainability goals.
They are not always comprehensive
These solutions typically focus on a specific subset of ESG metrics, which means organisations might not be able to measure their performance across all aspects of ESG. This leads to a potential gap in understanding and addressing the full spectrum of ESG issues.
They can be expensive
The cost of implementing and maintaining these systems can be prohibitive, especially for smaller organisations or those with limited resources. The expense can act as a barrier to the adoption of these initiatives, thereby limiting their scope and effectiveness.
They can require vendor lock-in
These technologies often require vendor lock-in, which can limit an organisation’s flexibility and choice in selecting and using other tools. This is particularly problematic for organisations that need to interoperate with other systems or vendors.
A standard approach to technology
To overcome these challenges, we need to shift our approach to a data-centric model where data is decoupled from the tools and enriched to make it interoperable across any data source. Adopting an approach rooted in making data available and interoperable offers several key benefits.
Avoid vendor lock-in
This approach allows organisations to sidestep the confines of vendor lock-in, promoting interoperability and facilitating the seamless integration and analysis of ESG data across different platforms and organisational boundaries. This freedom enables organisations to select the best tools for their needs to create a tailored end-to-end solution, rather than being constrained by a single vendor’s offerings.
Beyond sharing and exchanging raw data, the technology should also enable the sharing and exchange of information, insights, and actionable directives. This enriches the alignment of organisational processes towards ESG goals, promoting a culture of sustainable operations across the ecosystem.
Take, for example, an organisation working to reduce its carbon emissions. This organisation can share data, insights, and actionable directives with its suppliers, helping them adapt their internal processes to also lower emissions. This collaboration benefits both entities and their shared goal, creating a ripple effect that extends beyond individual organisational boundaries, all working towards shaping a better future.
Growth and scale
The technology adopted should facilitate a start-small and scale organically approach. Quick wins are instrumental in proving the immediate success of ESG initiatives, and the technology chosen should support the scaling of these wins as part of a business’s regular operations.
The choice of technology plays a pivotal role in the evolution and scale of ESG initiatives. Ideally, technologies adopted should provide mechanisms to 'start small' and scale organically. This strategy is key because ‘time-to-market’ and ‘right-first-time’ are crucial metrics to get started and prove immediate success in achieving ESG goals.
Starting small can refer to piloting a project within a single department before scaling it to the whole organisation or targeting a specific ESG goal before tackling more. This approach enables quick wins, delivers immediate value, and provides momentum to build on, bolstering the confidence of stakeholders and making the case for further investment.
As these initiatives prove successful, technology should facilitate their scaling as part of business as usual. Scaling, in this context, could mean expanding the initiative across the organisation, replicating the project in different geographical locations, or broadening the scope to include more ESG goals.
By allowing for growth at a comfortable pace, technology enables companies to maintain momentum in their ESG efforts without overwhelming their resources or processes. Thus, technology that enables quick wins and facilitates seamless scalability should be favoured in the pursuit of ESG goals.
Benefits of a standardised approach
This standard approach to sharing data, information, and actionable insights can profoundly impact an organisation's ESG efforts.
With access to a broader range of data and insights, organisations can make more informed decisions regarding their ESG initiatives. This improved decision-making capacity enables companies to optimise their strategies, leading to better performance and a more significant ESG impact.
Transparency is fundamental in the ESG landscape. By adopting a standard approach to sharing data and insights, organisations can foster a greater degree of openness. This transparency can boost stakeholder trust, improve reputational strength, and solidify long-term relationships with partners, customers, and the public.
Identifying and managing ESG risks is an integral part of any sustainability strategy. With access to a wealth of shared data and insights, organisations can better predict, evaluate, and mitigate potential risks, reducing their exposure to financial and reputational damage.
A standardised approach allows for a scalable model, letting organisations adapt and grow their ESG initiatives at their own pace, in tandem with their partners. This flexibility avoids the pressure of an all-or-nothing approach, enabling incremental growth and facilitating an ecosystem-wide progression towards ESG goals.
Technology is essential for accelerating global ESG efforts. To truly achieve this, we need technology that promotes trusted technical interoperability, allows the sharing of raw data, information, and actionable insights, and supports an agile approach to scaling.
To accelerate ESG strategies globally, organisations must avoid limiting themselves to private, vendor-specific solutions. Instead, they need to build on open standards that encourage sharing, collaboration, and adaptability, providing the necessary infrastructure for the collective pursuit of sustainable futures.
Fabrizio Cannizzo is Chief Architect at IOTICS. He is the steward of both conceptual and concrete architecture, playing a pivotal role in shaping the foundation of the organisation's technology and meeting the evolving needs of clients and partners.
IES is delighted to announce the launch of a new collaborative whitepaper which aims to foster improved collaboration between AEC practitioners and building operators to bridge the performance gap and decarbonise our buildings.
The whitepaper advocates for a more open utilisation of digital assets and new mechanisms to overcome legal hurdles which currently impair their use as methods to accelerate the decarbonisation of buildings.
Spearheaded by IES, the paper brings together influential voices from across the built environment sector to discuss the importance of whole-life performance modelling and the challenges and barriers associated with industry adoption of this approach. Insight is also drawn from an industry-wide survey of 240+ AEC professionals, building owners and occupiers.
The paper introduces IES’ Sleeping Digital Twin initiative - the theory that dormant 3D design, compliance and BIM models which exist for the majority of the current building stock can be evolved into performance digital twins which are usable across the whole building lifecycle.
It is the process of unlocking these models for new use where the spirit of collaboration and openness is required. Significant questions relating to intellectual property, ownership and legal ramifications were cited as reasons for models not currently being shared with 58% of AEC consultants surveyed selecting legal implications as the main barrier to model sharing.
With the sector overtly committed to driving down carbon emissions in both new build and retrofit projects, the use of these ‘sleeping’ models would unlock vast carbon savings and enable the delivery of better outcomes for building owners, occupiers and designers.
Titled ‘Sleeping Digital Twins: Exploring the appetite, benefits, and challenges of whole-life building performance modelling’, the whitepaper features viewpoints from the UKGBC, CIBSE, Introba, Sweco, Gafcon Digital, HOK, HLM Architects, Perth & Kinross Council, the University of Birmingham, and the University of Glasgow.
Key themes discussed within the whitepaper include: the current uptake of whole life performance modelling and the appetite for change; challenges and barriers to progress; benefits of adopting this approach; and ownership and accessibility of models. It concludes with a series of next steps that can help towards industry-wide uptake of whole-life performance modelling to move away from a culture of compliance and optimise building performance.
Don McLean, Founder and CEO of IES, said: “Whilst the government is backtracking on net-zero policies, the built environment sector is making strides towards change. As an industry, we are united on the need to decarbonise the world’s buildings as efficiently as possible to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.
“We’ve led the creation of this whitepaper to highlight the importance of utilising technology which supports whole-life performance modelling to meet net-zero targets. The tools for change already exist but are not used to their full potential which is where the Sleeping Digital Twins initiative comes in. The industry is waking up to the benefits of this method, but there are still many barriers to overcome.
“As a result, we need a new approach which begins with greater collaboration. A spirit of openness is needed to thaw engrained approaches and unlock the potential we have at our fingertips. There is clear appreciation for the need for better use of digital assets. 83% of AEC consultants and 66% of clients agree that better utilisation of energy models in building operation can help us achieve net-zero goals. Now, we need to take the first steps towards creating this change.
“This whitepaper is just the beginning of an important conversation, and we hope that it will be both informative and instructive for AEC practitioners and building operators. It aims to act as a catalyst for a shift towards better use of digital assets, closing the performance gap and decarbonising our building stock.”
Download the whitepaper
To mark the launch of this landmark paper, IES and a selection of industry contributors also teamed up with The B1M for a live online panel debate to discuss the challenges and benefits of whole-life performance modelling and the Sleeping Digital Twin approach. The session is now available to watch on demand at the link below,
This week saw the first get together of members of the Digital Twin (DT) Hub Board, Advisory Group and Community Council at an event hosted by Connected Places Catapult. The evening was themed around the launch of the National Cyber-Physical Infrastructure (NCPI) ecosystem - to build cross-sector collaboration for digital twin, robotics and metaverse innovations.
It was a chance to catch up on the latest thinking on bringing everything together, with a welcome and introduction from DT Hub Chair, Alison Vincent and a presentation on Building Sustainable Value from Justin Anderson. The event was compered by Henry Fenby-Taylor.
Justin set out future scenarios and showed how the NCPI can respond by building an ecosystem which is purpose led, by connecting cyber-physical system conveners to refine definitions, collaborate on shared building blocks, develop integration architectures and prepare to scale CPI across organisations and supply chains. And at the heart of this is giving those in different roles and at different levels of responsibility the tools to make it happen. Justin concluded with a look at the Digital Twins for Senior Leaders' course, which begins with a pilot cohort on 26 October 2023.
With networking came the opportunity to listen to a fireside chat hosted by Melissa Zanocco with HVMC's Jonathan Eyre and Cranfield's John Erkoyuncu, and to discuss across tables the different challenges and themes central to enabling industry innovation across the cyber-physical infrastructure. Topics included governance, working groups, enabling infrastructure, initiatives including the Gemini Alliance and the Apollo Protocol, and NCPI federation with centralised services.
Guest speaker, science fiction writer Stephen Oram explained how the process of applied fiction can be used to create meaningful discussion between those who make the future and those who will live in it. What is important in this context is that we take the right approach to our cyber-physical future, together, and get this right from the beginning.
Thanks to Connected Places Catapult's events team and to all our presenters and table hosts for making this a great evening of plans and possibilities.
Meet the Digital Twin Hub, its Board, Advisory Group, Community Council, and Operations Team.
Free Webinar - Wednesday 18th October 2023, 4pm-5pm BST
This exclusive session, presented by The B1M in Partnership with IES, will mark the launch of a landmark collaborative whitepaper aimed at improving the tracking, measurement and monitoring of key performance metrics across the entire building lifecycle.
Featuring results from an industry-wide stakeholder survey and in-depth insights from a range of built environment industry contributors, the paper will introduce the concept of the Sleeping Digital Twin - the theory that every building in the world most likely already has an existing 3D model, which is not currently being utilised to its full potential. Exploring the benefits and challenges of reutilising these existing models as we race towards a net-zero built environment.
What Will Be Covered?
This live webinar will feature a selection of industry experts from across the built environment sector that contributed to the development of this paper. Focusing on the findings of the paper, the panel will discuss the benefits and challenges of awakening Sleeping Digital Twins and taking a whole-life performance modelling approach to the way we design and operate buildings, from both an AEC practitioner and end client perspective.
In particular we’ll explore the challenges and barriers surrounding the handover, ownership and sharing of digital models and provide clear, practical takeaways for attendees to start to overcome barriers and fully embrace the opportunities this approach presents. Attendees will also be able to ask questions of the experts in an open Q&A.
The event will be hosted by The B1M's Fred Mills and feature expert insight from:
Don McLean – Founder and Chief Executive Officer, IES
Carl Collins – Head of Digital Engineering, CIBSE
Gillian Brown – Vice Chairperson, Energy Managers Association
Todd Lukesh – Client Engagement Manager, Gafcon Digital, an Accenture Company
Chris Anton – Lead Energy Officer, Perth and Kinross Council
Spaces are limited, so make sure you reserve yours today!
Register for free here.
Organisations across all sectors grapple with the complex process of integrating ESG strategies into their operations. Government mandates, market pressures, and investment opportunities make this an obligatory journey.
However, the journey to seamlessly integrate these strategies into the core business presents some challenges.
In this article, I will explore some of the most common hurdles that slow down the implementation of these essential strategies and suggest ways forward.
What ducks need to be put in a row?
Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up.
Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.
- Michael Jordan
Lack of consistent and standardised ESG metrics
The lack of a single, agreed-upon set of ESG metrics stands as a significant challenge for organisations attempting to weave sustainability into their core operations. Without standardised metrics, it becomes difficult for organisations to compare their performance with others, to benchmark their progress effectively, and for investment firms to make informed decisions.
Lack of expertise in implementing ESG and reporting on it
Many organisations find themselves facing a lack of expertise in ESG. In-house resources for the collection and analysis of ESG data can be sparse, leading to gaps in understanding and execution. Not fully understanding the risks of implementing more sustainable solutions or not having the proper KPIs to measure progress may hold organisations back or, potentially, move them in the wrong direction.
Continuously-evolving rules and regulations
Uncertainty and a lack of clarity surrounding ESG standards and regulations present a significant hurdle. Pressure from investors, regulators, and organisations to come up with a valid ESG framework means that, as of now, the ESG landscape is fluid and organisations don’t know where to start or how to prioritise their efforts.
Data is hard to get
The spectrum of data types needed is diverse: operations’ sustainability, social aspects, and corporate governance aspects. The broad nature of the big data sets and data sources, along with their heterogeneity, presents difficulties in efficiently managing the data and making it interoperable for analysis and consumption.
Buy-in from leadership
The accomplishment of ESG objectives might entail short-term sacrifices that seem to clash with the organisation's overall financial performance. Hence, buy-in from leadership is necessary. Without the support and commitment of senior leadership, achieving successful ESG implementation can be daunting. As the old adage goes, ‘change starts at the top.’ If leadership is not on board, making progress can be an uphill battle.
It’s not as bad as it looks!
We’re definitely seeing a lot of work addressing the challenges, from new standards and frameworks being proposed to market forces accelerating cultural changes and new technology for accessing and sharing data to provide better insights.
On the road to uniformity of frameworks and standards
In September 2020, five major international organisations responsible for setting sustainability and reporting standards - CDP, Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB), Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) - have collaboratively outlined a shared vision for comprehensive corporate reporting.
This shared vision for comprehensive corporate reporting combines financial accounting with sustainability disclosure through integrated reporting. The statement acknowledges the unique needs of different stakeholders and accounts for tailored disclosure systems.
In November 2021 the IFRS Foundation disclosed the decision to establish the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) to unify global sustainability disclosure. It issued its inaugural standards, IFRS S1 and IFRS S2, in June 2023.
IFRS S1 (General Requirements for Disclosure of Sustainability-related Financial Information) presents a framework for sustainability-related disclosures. This standard necessitates that organisations disclose information regarding their sustainability-related risks and opportunities, their impacts on the environment and society, and their governance of sustainability-related matters.
IFRS S2 (Climate-related Disclosures) goes a step further in detailing requirements for climate-related disclosures. Under this standard, organisations must disclose information about their greenhouse gas emissions, their climate-related risks and opportunities, and their transition plans to a net-zero emissions economy.
These standards are a major leap towards achieving global sustainability reporting standards. By improving the quality and comparability of sustainability-related disclosures, these standards can accelerate the ESG agenda and aid organisations in their journey towards responsible, sustainable practices.
Achieving excellence requires strategic changes
Organisations often struggle to find the balance between their commitment to environmental and societal good and their need to maintain financial profitability. Organisations contend with the desire to uphold their social responsibility, while also having to meet their bottom-line goals. This can be a difficult balancing act, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
An essential part of this balancing act involves prioritising strategies that align ESG, operational goals, and customers' goals. ESG initiatives should not be isolated from the organisation's core business goals. Instead, they need to be integrated into every aspect of the business. This holistic approach not only ensures the success of ESG initiatives but also has a positive impact on the organisation's bottom line.
By aligning ESG strategies with operational and customer goals, organisations can create a unified approach that simultaneously promotes sustainability, profitability and customer satisfaction. This synergy not only accelerates the achievement of ESG goals but also builds a resilient, future-proof business model.
It’s always all about data
Embarking on the journey to implement ESG goals and strategies is a necessity and, for some, also a moral obligation. Achieving success ultimately depends on the capacity to navigate the intricate challenge of unravelling the pervasive "data problem." This multifaceted issue revolves around the complex task of sourcing and accessing crucial data, whether originating from internal IT and OT systems or external sources beyond the organisation's boundaries.
A few considerations about the data problem:
Organisations must have a clear definition of what metrics to measure based on the choice of the framework and standards to adopt and a well-defined understanding of the organisation's materiality, encompassing the most crucial environmental, social, and governance issues that have the potential to influence the company's financial value and overall sustainability. Clarity on such issues drives the definition of what data sets to use as basis for reports and achievements of ESG goals.
Collecting data internally from operations, product owners, facilities, etc. and mapping it to metrics like “carbon emissions," as well as the gathering of social metrics, is extremely complex and labour-intensive. Furthermore, the huge amount of data to find, access, and interoperate with exacerbates the problem as it’s costly to manage and scale.
Gathering data from the entire supply chain is expensive. It's often locked in silos, making access tricky. Moreover, organisations might resist sharing data because they can't selectively provide only ESG-relevant information.
Regardless of the source, collected data may be inaccurate, out of context, or invalid. Using this as a basis for reporting may increase the risks of reporting the wrong outcomes, and, as a consequence, it may lead to drops in ESG ratings, accusations of greenwashing, or, more broadly, loss of reputation.
In the face of these challenges, core technology, like IOTICS, exists and plays a pivotal role. By offering trusted technical interoperability and promoting an agile approach to sharing and exchanging raw data, information, and actionable insights, IOTICS helps organisations tackle the implementation of their respective ESG goals efficiently. IOTICS enables organisations to start small, implement a measurable ESG goal across the ecosystem of parties, and then scale organically.
Overcoming these challenges to achieve ESG goals is no small task. It requires collaboration, innovation, and a concerted effort from every part of the organisation. However, with the right approach, the right strategies, and the right tools, organisations can navigate these hurdles and make significant strides towards achieving their ESG goals. By doing so, they not only contribute to a sustainable future, but they also build stronger, more resilient businesses in the process. The path to achieving ESG goals may present challenges, but the rewards are well worth the effort.
By working together and using innovative solutions like IOTICS, organisations can overcome these challenges and make significant strides towards their ESG goals.
IOTICS is a powerful tool that enables businesses to share data securely and selectively, unlocking the value of data across organisational boundaries. With IOTICS, organisations can cooperate with partners, competitors, and even third-party data providers to gain new insights and make better decisions about their ESG performance.
For example, IOTICS can be used to:
Share data on environmental impacts across the supply chain, enabling organisations to identify and reduce their carbon footprint.
Share data on employee engagement and well-being, helping organisations improve their social performance.
Share data on governance and risk management, giving investors and other stakeholders confidence in the organisation's long-term viability.
By working with IOTICS, organisations can build stronger, more resilient businesses and contribute to a more sustainable future.
A new government and industry collaboration to amplify innovations, break down silos and build a shared vision for cyber-physical system innovation in the UK.
Digital Catapult, Connected Places Catapult and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult have announced a joint collaboration to develop the emerging National Cyber-Physical Infrastructure (NCPI) ecosystem in the UK - funded and supported by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT). This builds on the foundations of the UK Government’s Cyber-Physical Infrastructure Consultation published in March 2022. Further information can be found here.
In the next 10-15 years, the world will begin to see more combinations of advanced digital technologies such as AI, extended reality (XR), robotics, distributed ledger technologies and 5G/6G, that will connect physical and digital environments together into advanced “cyber-physical” systems. New capabilities that emerge from these combinations of technologies will create a wave of innovation that will transform the way we live and work.
These cyber-physical systems are developing in complexity and will fundamentally change our relationship and interaction with data, including:
Robotic and autonomous systems are already revolutionising industries like manufacturing and agriculture to enhance productivity and safety for repetitive tasks with precision and potentially within hazardous environments reducing operational costs.
Smart city infrastructure is continuing to expand usage of data driven decision making to reduce carbon footprint, optimising traffic management and town planning to increase citizen safety and quality of life, including areas such as air quality /CO2 emissions.
Digital twins are fit for purpose digital representations of physical assets, environments or processes, underpinned by a data model with synchronisation between the physical and digital elements. These are already helping to improve predictive planning, next-generation design and supply chain optimisation.
The extended reality enabled ‘metaverse’ (enabled by virtual, augmented and mixed reality) will allow us to interact with data layered over the physical world as an extension of the internet, enabling immersive experiences, learning environments and new ways to access information about our surroundings.
Connecting advanced cyber-physical systems can provide a step-change in the value individual systems can bring, enabling cyber-physical systems to break down silos in sectors and increase our understanding of systems of systems challenges. While individual applications of cyber-physical systems bring specific benefits, the networking and federation of these systems will create significantly greater value for society, economy and the environment.
Connected systems will bring together innovators in industry and academia, government and wider society to work together to solve systemic challenges, such as reaching net zero, by allowing multiple parties to collaborate, share information and make collective decisions. By allowing for better visibility of data across systems (e.g. sharing CO2 emissions across organisations), and encouraging greater interoperability, Cyber-Physical Infrastructure can improve productivity across key sectors, enable increased public spending efficiency, enhance delivery of infrastructure and health services, build national resilience, and accelerate progress in attaining national policy objectives, such as net zero. More broadly, Cyber-Physical Infrastructure can help remove time, cost and risk from the process of bringing innovation to market.
To realise this new era of advanced digitalisation, the UK requires a step change to accelerate innovation and the development of infrastructure that underpins it.
Building a cyber-physical system innovation ecosystem
In the UK and globally, it is essential that we build a collective vision for a more equitable, secure, responsible and resilient future state for cyber-physical system innovation, that will benefit everyone involved, set the frameworks to develop interoperable systems, and showcase best-in-class examples of innovation.
The NCPI will be a first step towards developing this vision in the UK. Funded by the UK Government Department for Science Innovation and Technology (DSIT), the NCPI Ecosystem is jointly led by Digital Catapult, Connected Places Catapult and the Digital Twin Hub, and the High Value Manufacturing Catapult (all part of the UK’s Catapult Network).
The NCPI initiative will help develop the groundwork for future initiatives in this space, establish discussions between key stakeholders and be a national and international front door for future developments in this area.
Launch event: Cyber-Physical Future Forum
The partners will launch the NCPI at a half-day hybrid event, the Cyber-Physical Future Forum, at Connected Places Catapult in London on Thursday 16 November 2023. The event will outline plans to grow the cyber-physical ecosystem and feature keynote speeches from industry guests, covering the challenges and scientific areas central to enabling industry innovation. This will be followed by an interactive workshop session for more detailed discussion on the key topics. The event is by invitation for in-person attendance due to venue size. Online registration now open.
Science and Technology Minister, George Freeman says “The technologies that power a modern economy are often underpinned by complex physical and virtual foundations which help them function – whether that be environmental sensors or wireless networks for transferring data. Building a Cyber-Physical Infrastructure is all about creating a more connected, innovative, and resilient UK, where these sophisticated systems can work seamlessly together. We look forward to seeing what the X-Catapult Consortium can do to foster more cooperation and collaboration in this space.”
Jeremy Silver, CEO at Digital Catapult says “The range of industrial initiatives in this space has grown increasingly fragmented with many bespoke initiatives. The unique position of the Catapults as technology and commercially agnostic players in the centre of the landscape, makes them ideally placed to help cross-sector industrial and tech companies collaborate. We’re excited to usher in the second generation of cyber-physical systems which will need increased openness and interoperability.”
Nicola Yates, CEO at Connected Places Catapult says “The NCPI programme is focused on our ability to bring together data from the physical world and deliver clear understanding in digital form through connected digital twins, robotics and metaverse innovations. We have the principles and foundations – with relevance across the built environment and further – and move forward with a strong mandate to combine knowledge and expertise to enable an ecosystem that will fast-track digital technology, boost economic growth and create a better world.”
Katherine Bennett, CEO at the High Value Manufacturing Catapult says “The National Cyber-Physical Infrastructure initiative is a great opportunity for interested organisations to come together to solve challenges that exist across sectors. Our world is changing and taking physical data to build digital solutions is critical to our national competitiveness. Through greater collaboration and knowledge sharing we will unlock innovation and develop guidance that will help organisations of all sizes to benefit.
NCPI on the Digital Twin Hub
The NCPI programme will have a home on the DT Hub, fully accessible to members. Watch this space!
The Cyber-Physical Future Forum is by invitation for in-person attendance due to venue size.
You can join us online.
CReDo Phase 2 final report: Developing decision-support use cases
The Phase 2 final report sets out the groundwork for CReDo to develop as a decision-support and cost-benefit analysis tool for the strategic resilience planning use case. In summary:
CReDo can be a helpful decision-support tool for asset operators and regulators
CReDo brings together data from different infrastructure asset operators to model the impact of extreme weather events, taking account of interdependencies within and across infrastructure boundaries. CReDo can be used by asset operators and regulators to make more informed decisions about where best to take action for the benefit of the infrastructure system as a whole (a so-called ‘connected approach’).
In Phase 1, we designed an economic evaluation methodology to simulate the potential net benefits of CReDo’s strategic resilience planning use case. We found that CReDo, as a connected digital twin, had the potential to bring a range of benefits to asset operators, their customers and wider society by enabling asset operators to identify cross-network dependencies and pool their strategic investments.
The current phase of CReDo (Phase 2) has contributed to the development of CReDo as a decision-support tool by identifying cross-network interdependencies and where coordinated investments across asset operators can achieve a given level of resilience at lower cost.
In Phase 2, CReDo has developed to better reflect realities facing asset operators
During Phase 2 of the project, we focused on developing CReDo to better reflect the realities facing asset operators. Real asset data from UK Power Networks, Anglian Water Group and BT Group was used to characterise the current resilience properties of their networks, including the costs of asset failures to their business and customers, and to reflect the incremental measures that they could undertake at the asset level to improve resilience. We then applied the economic evaluation methodology developed in Phase 1 to this data and compared the potential net benefits of different resilience strategies, from both an individual operator perspective and a system perspective. This economic evaluation is based on a set of cost models that quantify the benefits of avoiding flood-induced asset failures for infrastructure owners, customers and wider society.
The outputs from Phase 2 could help overcome coordination challenges for resilience planning
One of the key outputs from this phase of work is the CReDo measure of ‘asset criticality’. CReDo estimates the criticality of individual assets from a system perspective and an individual ‘siloed’ asset operator perspective by taking account of the total economic costs that are incurred if the asset fails as a result of direct flooding or cascading failures from other assets, whilst also accounting for existing levels of resilience in the system. This measure illustrates where and how a connected approach is likely to add value when making strategic investment decisions, compared to a world where asset operators make those decisions independently of one another. Other outputs from this phase include identifying the pathways of cascading asset outages and the budget impact of resilience investments.
We simulated a case study flood scenario in East England as an illustration of the outputs that CReDo is able to produce
To demonstrate the current decision-support functionality of CReDo, we simulated the impact of different investment decisions for a flood scenario in an area within the East of England. This case study showed that asset operators may prioritise interventions differently depending on their assessment of the criticality of their assets for their networks compared to the criticality of their assets for the system. In particular, we found that a connected approach to system planning can lead to better economic outcomes for a given level of resilience investment, as the system view can identify interventions with larger net benefits by prioritising assets with greater system criticality.
This phase of work also identified further ways that CReDo can add value to decision makers
This phase of work also identified further ways that CReDo can add value to decision-makers. For example, in the future, CReDo may be able to run numerous flood scenarios for a given intervention strategy and approximate the overall expected net benefits of that investment. Additionally, future phases may consider operational response measures, such as rediverting network flows or deploying mobile resources to affected areas, by incorporating inputs such as average response times, site access and other operational factors.
Download this report to read in full.
Read more about CReDo
The CReDo Phase 2 final report has been prepared for the project by Frontier Economics.
Potential expansions to the CReDo model (the Climate Resilience Demonstrator) including further geographical, use case and climate scenarios, were unveiled at The Future of CReDo event at Connected Places Catapult. Participants also mapped out commercial options for how the model could be owned and operated.
Helping infrastructure owners to better understand the threats to their assets posed by extreme weather – and take appropriate action – are broad aims of three new reports published by Connected Places Catapult on behalf of CReDo: the Climate Resilience Demonstrator, and discussed at a workshop held in London on 29 September.
CReDo is a project that shows how connected digital twins can be key tools in helping to protect infrastructure assets from threats posed by climate change. It seeks to understand the ways in which different pieces of public infrastructure closely depend on one another; pointing out that if one asset fails it can have a dramatic impact on several others.
Advocates of the project make the case that overall infrastructure resilience in the face of challenging climate events can be improved if a greater focus is placed on making investments in the most appropriate manner and adopting new technologies.
Until now, the focus of CReDo has centred around flooding and how using a digital twin and sharing data among infrastructure owners can help to predict how a major flood event could have an impact on the supply of power, communications and water.
Great progress has been made so far by Connected Places Catapult alongside project partners BT, Anglian Water and UK Power Networks to demonstrate the impact a connected digital twin could have on improving infrastructure resilience in a market town in Norfolk.
But the demonstrator is entering a new phase and beginning to expand in scope. Over the next year, the CReDo project will continue its expansion geographically as well as into new climate scenarios, namely extreme heat.
Delegates welcomed to the workshop
At the workshop in London, hosted by Connected Places Catapult’s Chris Jones, stakeholders representing owners of several infrastructure asset types including water, telecoms, energy and transport – as well as government, regulators and academics – came together to be introduced to CReDo and the next steps for the project.
Participants were then presented with several possible ownership models for CReDo, options for commercialising digital twins, and the likely barriers to overcome in order to create an economically sustainable future for the development and use of such platforms. In an interactive part of the session, they evaluated the options, workshopped the barriers and discussed ways to overcome those barriers.
CReDo Engagement Lead, Sarah Hayes said the digital twin will help to create so called ‘failure models’ to help improve the understanding of how assets may behave in difficult weather conditions. “We hope to realise the value from sharing data,” she said. “CReDo promises to increase resilience, provide better and improved decision making and reduce the cost of repairs when responding to extreme weather events in future.”
Sarah added that better understanding of how different infrastructure assets depend on one another should mean that network resilience is managed in a more co-ordinated way; building trust among stakeholders and creating more of a “willingness to share data across organisations”.
Delegates were told that sharing data and improving resilience through simply expanding CReDo nationally could provide an economic benefit to the country of as much as £432 million – 55 times the cost of implementation – although estimates of benefit vary depending on how much data is captured. The economic benefits from further expansions into different climate scenarios and to different asset sectors could greatly increase this number. The next step for the demonstrator is to make it ready for market.
Understanding infrastructure interdependencies
Connected Places Catapult’s Senior Product Manager, Holly Hensler told the event that CReDo will map infrastructure interdependencies in a manner that was not previously possible, to see when and how likely it is that assets will fail; allowing owners to know where to increase resilience and investment. “As climate change continues, a platform like CReDo will become even more important,” she said.
“If a flood knocks out two power assets, it could also cause failure with interconnected assets creating a ‘cascade fail’. It is important to understand these interdependencies, which is where CReDo can help.”
The platform also promises to demonstrate the power of different asset stakeholders working together; bringing previously siloed data to the table to improve strategic resilience planning. Such an effort could also benefit society by ensuring that the public has continued access to clean drinking water, heating during extreme weather events and can use the telephone to reach the emergency services.
Holly added that the demonstrator will now look to expand its geographic coverage from its focus on a market town in Norfolk, look at more infrastructure sectors and asset types, and consider a wider range of climate events such as extreme heat, wind, cold, drought and snow.
Anglian Water’s asset performance specialist Tom Burgoyne said of CReDo: “We welcome the focus on exploring how we encourage cross sector investment in the platform, increase the level of data sharing and pass useful information back to asset owners.
“CReDo promises to help us to explore the challenges of increasing resilience, and make sure our investments are directed to the right places.”
BT Group’s service specialist Justine Webster added: “We expect CReDo will help to improve understanding of how multiple asset owners must work together to focus on resilience and reduce knock on effects for other sectors. It also promises to provide better real-time data about weather conditions to help improve decision making.”
Operating models considered
Connected Places Catapult’s Senior Business Analyst, Friso Buker presented the Strategic Business Case report that explores five different operating models and structures for CReDo – where the platform is managed by either government, SMEs, the private sector, a public-private partnership or an ‘open source’ model.
Important points to consider, he explained, include whether the model can hold onto the ethos of the public good, how it will manage industry rivalries and who gets to make decisions. In a show of hands, participants at the event appeared to favour a public-private model, allowing both market understanding, and government control. But Friso asked: “Will the private sector want to get involved if there is little indication if CReDo will become a successful service?”
He also outlined several revenue models being considered for the platform: a ‘freemium’ service where users pay a flat fee for access for a set period of time; a pay-as-you-go model; and arrangements set around licensed or ‘value based’ models similar to an insurance arrangement. “But how we negotiate that, and agree on the value of the service, represent an extremely difficult proposition,” he remarked.
Data Strategist Cara Navarro spoke of the methodology behind how CReDo can expand into different use cases, taking the transport sector as a case study example. She explained that professionals responsible for protecting road and rail assets will need to better understand how their assets including drainage, structures and telecoms equipment rely on – and are vulnerable to – other networks.
Cara showed a ‘knowledge graph’ of the connections of different technologies within the road and rail sectors, showcasing the interconnectivity and potential disruption brought on by cascading failures in those sectors. Detail of the knowledge graph can be seen the infographic CReDo Transport Use Case Dependencies, published on the DT Hub.
An interactive section at the event was opened by Systems Engineer Tom Marsh who unveiled a roadmap for how CReDo could be brought to market, and considered some of the gaps in understanding and activities that need to fill those gaps.
He went on to showcase three different cross-sector funding models. More detail can be found in the Developing CReDo from a Demonstrator to a Market-Ready Tool report on the DT Hub.
Participants addressed barriers to the different ownership roadmap models: stipulating barriers that could and could not be overcome across each model. They then focused on the roadmap of their choice in focus groups, discussing actions needed.
Chairing the session, Holly Hensler said the most unexpected outcome was that even though the groups were focused on different roadmaps, they converged into a similar roadmap model – namely one where government is the main sponsor and owner of CReDo, but making use of the agility and speed of SMEs to deliver parts of the work.
Infrastructure asset owners, regulators and government bodies are encouraged to sign up to the CReDo Network on the DT Hub to take part in the discussion forum.
For further details, or to get involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Access CReDo reports
Learn more about CReDo
Join the Digital Revolution: Innovate UK Seeks Public Input for International Collaboration on Digital Twins.
Innovate UK, the UK government’s innovation agency is embarking on an exciting new initiative to accelerate the development of digital twins around the world. (Digital twins are a model of an asset or a system with a two-way information flow).
To ensure the success of this venture, Innovate UK is reaching out to the public to gather valuable insights through a comprehensive survey. By participating in this survey, you will have the opportunity to shape the future of digital twin innovation and contribute to international collaboration efforts.
Innovate UK recognises the importance of international collaboration in driving innovation and ensuring that digital twin technology benefits people across the globe. By expanding their collaboration efforts, Innovate UK aims to foster partnerships and knowledge exchange among countries to unlock the full potential of digital twins.
Your input is crucial in helping Innovate UK identify the countries and areas where collaboration is most needed for digital twin innovation. By completing the survey, you will provide valuable insights that will guide Innovate UK in deciding the focus areas and countries for collaboration. This is your chance to make an impact and contribute to the development of innovative solutions that can positively transform industries and societies.
Have your say by simply clicking the link below and completing the survey. Don’t miss this chance to shape the future of digital twins international collaboration.
Climate resilience via distributed data sharing and connected understanding
Amit Bhave, CEO and Co-Founder of CMCL
Critical infrastructure and climate change resilience
Critical infrastructure networks, for example water energy, transport and telecommunications, are interdependent. The Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy report in 2022 highlighted the potential impact of climate change on cascading risks (failure or malfunctioning in one network causing a knock-on effect on other networks) affecting these sectors . The Climate Change Committee, for instance, has warned that flooding is set to become more frequent and severe, affecting infrastructure including energy, water, transport, waste and digital communication. A lack of a formal mechanism for information sharing between critical infrastructure providers and the siloed regulation of each sector pose significant obstacles to climate adaptation and the development of climate resilience across the combined networks.
Substantial action is needed to develop anticipatory measures to help communities avoid climate disasters. Climate resilience is an intrinsically cross-sector challenge and a rapidly growing concern. The preparations to address it have started, but wider contributions are needed to match the severity of the challenge.
Cross-sector digitalisation and the CReDo approach
Consider a weather event such as a flood that has compromised assets from the energy network, this can in turn have a knock-on impact on other sectors. The other networks, however, may not be aware that they are vulnerable to this cascading risk (Figure 1).
Connecting digital twins to develop a shared understanding and actionable insights across sectors is a key means to address this cross-sector resilience challenge. The Climate Resilience Demonstrator (CReDo) is a climate change adaptation digital twin project that demonstrates how cross-sector data sharing can improve climate adaptation and resilience across networks. The underlying principle is a based on a connected system of systems approach, which a) offers more functionality, scale and insights than the sum of the constituent networks alone, and b) accounts for the interconnected nature of networks. This is essential to mimic the real-life cascading risks. This technical approach is powered by a knowledge graph-based connected digital twin approach, described elsewhere .
Figure 1: Network of interconnected critical infrastructure assets – failure cascading risk
Beyond the legal barriers, data silos and lack of interoperability represent major technical challenges to data sharing. Here, to understand the merits of developing a common language to enable data interoperability, I encourage the readers to read the blog posts by Jonathen Eyre  and Sarah Hayes , as well as the many previous insightful blogs and posts published on DT Hub. It is equally important to embrace the heterogeneity of data from different sources, and to cater for the varying levels of digital maturity across stakeholders. In CReDo, we have adopted a distributed data sharing architecture (Figure 2) that hosts asset owner data on separate servers, which could be hosted by asset owners in their own IT systems. This approach supports the extensibility of CReDo to enable the connection of data across more domains (sectors, expertise, know-how, etc.)
The distributed data sharing architecture enables the individual asset owners to retain control of their own data assets, with security and access controls safeguarding access to the data. It facilitates different views of the insights and data tailored to each individual user/asset owner, whilst retaining a connected understanding based on shared data.
Figure 2: Technical approach adopting a distributed shared data architecture
The internal data structure used by CReDo is based on a hierarchy of simple ontologies. The ontologies are used to represent the assets from the infrastructure networks, the connectivity and properties (such as its owner, location, operational state, etc.) of each asset, and flood data for different climate scenarios. The approach enables the straightforward mapping of data from asset owners to the CReDo data structure, ensuring outward compatibility. It is easily extensible, offering the possibility to broaden the scope of CReDo to include additional asset properties, new asset owners and new sectors. The assets and the connectivity between them result in a directed graph. This is shown using synthetic data in Figure 3. This is analogous to the knowledge graph that CReDo creates by using ontologies to representing the data and relationships between data items.
Figure 3: CReDo assets and connectivity - a directed information graph (synthetic data)
Use case and insights
CReDo supports scenarios comprising assets across infrastructure networks and different types of floods for different climate scenarios. The sensitivity of the combined network to cascading failures caused by different types of flooding (coastal, fluvial and pluvial) provides insights to support strategic planning decisions to improve the climate resilience of the combined infrastructure network.
Among the various use cases studied, just one case (also using synthetic data) is considered here for the sake of brevity. The primary substation that supplies power to two NHS hospitals in the region is depicted below in Figure 4. One of the hospitals (marked by a red circle) has directly failed and lost power and telephone service. The second hospital has not flooded but is experiencing indirect failure. The latter also shows the consequences of the flood cascading through the asset networks. An alternative scenario suggesting investments to improve the resilience of the power substation shows an option to avoid the loss of power for both hospitals.
Figure 4: NHS hospital infrastructure - direct and indirect asset failure (synthetic data)
CReDo also offers an analytics dashboard (Figure 5) that derives and summarises information across multiple scenarios, providing a simple view of complex information to support decision making. Examples include a list of assets with the highest vulnerability and economic information regarding potential interventions, etc.
A publicly accessible version of the CReDo demonstrator that uses synthetic data is available via the DT Hub, while a version that uses real asset data has been deployed in a secure environment hosted by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) within the Data and Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure (DAFNI).
Figure 5: CReDo analytics dashboard (synthetic data)
CReDo continues to be a rewarding journey for CMCL; being part of what is a pioneering collaborative project between industry, academia and government to deliver a connected climate adaptation digital twin. A technical showcase describing how the CReDo demonstrator works is now available via a video on the DT Hub.
While we embark on improving the capabilities of CReDo by considering additional weather events such as extreme heat; it would be great to leverage the extensibility of the technical approach and the distributed data sharing by engaging with other infrastructure asset owners, regulators and potential collaborators. You can help shape this engagement via the Digital Twin Hub: https://digitaltwinhub.co.uk/credo/taking-action/.
2. J. Akroyd, S. Mosbach, A. Bhave and M. Kraft (2021), Universal Digital Twin – A Dynamic Knowledge Graph, Data Centric Engineering, 2, e14
Amit Bhave is the CEO and Co-Founder of CMCL, a digital engineering company offering products and technical services to the industry. He is also a By-Fellow of Hughes Hall and an Affiliated Research Fellow at the CoMo Group, Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge. His research interests include cross-sector digitalisation, smart infrastructure, negative emissions technologies, carbon abatement, low-emission energy conversion and nanomaterials.