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    Ahead of the inaugural General Assembly of the Global BIM Network, Adam Mathews, Head of International, Centre for Digital Built Britain and Chair of the Global BIM Network, sets out the benefits of collaboration between public sector organisations to advance the digital transformation of the construction sector and the built environment.  
    Attend the General Assembly of the Global BIM Network 2 December 2021
    Registration is free - click here.
     The Global BIM Network brings together public sector organisations from countries in Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia and Australia to accelerate the digitalisation of the built environment through the use of BIM across the construction and infrastructure sector. This collaborative approach aims to create better outcomes for all people and places.

    Building on the Network’s mission to support international public sector representatives and multilateral organisations on the road to digitalisation, the Call for Knowledge went live in August this year. Ongoing, the Call for Knowledge is building an open access online repository and evidence base – the Global BIM Network’s Information Collection– comprising submissions of informative and valuable resources from across the global public sector, to include guidance documentation, protocols, operational manuals, case studies, tools, training materials and other references that share knowledge of local, national and regional digital transformation journeys.
    By working together and sharing best practice, knowledge and experience, all countries and regions that are part of the Global BIM Network can advance digitalisation strategies that deliver more sustainable, efficient and cost-effective infrastructure to communities around the world. This collaborative approach also avoids duplication of efforts and fosters common standards and policies to increase shared global benefits.
    The Network is growing. The launch at the online Global BIM Summit in March 2021 saw public sector representatives speak about their in-country experiences implementing BIM and the societal benefits including improved transparency, efficiency, sustainability and resilience. Importantly, the Network provides policy makers and infrastructure investors with an opportunity to come together to discuss the challenges and identify common solutions with peers around the world.
    Further extending the our reach, next month marks the Network’s first General Assembly meeting where the Global BIM Network’s Roadmap for the Global Built Environment will be presented to public and private sector representatives from more than 40 countries across the world. The Roadmap has been co-created by Network members to support public sector leadership efforts to collaborate with industry on the critical opportunity of digitalisation in response to the pandemic. It aims to drive inclusive growth through capacity building and knowledge transfer across borders. The programme of work will be delivered collectively by the Network and will amplify current bilateral and regional efforts to harmonise digital technical standards, promoting the sharing of best practice for infrastructure policy, investment and procurement. This, in turn, will enable private sector companies to work with each other, growing commercial opportunities and ultimately, to better deliver the world’s infrastructure.
    The General Assembly will convene policy makers, public procurers and infrastructure investors in three panel sessions. The first of these will discuss the strategic development of cost benefit methodologies that demonstrate the value of BIM implementation in public sector funded projects. The second will turn to procurement practices around the world, from developing a national or subnational strategy at the policy level to deliver better infrastructure through BIM and information management, to practical steps to implementing BIM through public procurement. The third panel will consider how government and industry are working together to drive benefits for people and places providing an overview of developing national strategies to deliver better infrastructure through BIM.
    The panels feature key representatives from the EU BIM Task Group, Inter-American Development Bank, Office of Projects Victoria in Australia, Public Services and Procurement Canada, Planbim CORFO in Chile, National Institute of Building Sciences in the USA, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in the UK, the Ministry of Housing, City and Territory, Colombia, and UNOPS. An opportunity to hear from public sector leaders from across the world and to gain valuable insights into the global sector’s digital transition, the General Assembly is a moment to reflect on the leadership shown by the public sector on this agenda and to look ahead to the next phase.
    I very much hope you will join us at the General Assembly and be a part of the Global BIM Network. When countries collaborate to advance their digital transformation initiatives for the built environment, the benefits are there to be shared. 
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    Related links: 
    • Register to attend the free online General Assembly of the Global BIM Network, 2 December, 14.00 GMT, 09.00 EST, 15.00 CET, 19.00 IST, 23.00 JST here.
    • Read more about General Assembly speakers and moderators here.
     • Contribute to the Global BIM Network’s Call for Knowledge here.
     • The Global BIM Network is supported by the UK Government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and the Construction Innovation Hub and global partners, including, the Inter-American Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), EU BIM Task Group and the BIM Network of Latin American Governments. The UK’s Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) is the delivery partner and convener for the UK.
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    ‘CReDo is a small step to something potentially huge. It is something tangible that people can see and interact with, taking away the mystique of digital twins’, Matt Webb, Head of Enterprise Data, UK Power Networks
     
    The message coming out of the National Digital Twin programme’s webinar, ‘Increasing our climate resilience through connected digital twins’, is that working together is vital for safeguarding our future. The CReDo project leads the way in showing how collaboration and the sharing of data can dramatically improve our resilience to extreme weather conditions caused by climate change.
    Held at the same time as the COP26 climate conference, the webinar on 2 November 2021 launched the Climate Resilience Demonstrator (CReDo) to over 220 attendees from 17 countries and multiple industry sectors. It introduced the CReDo team and collaboration partners and covered the scope of the project, also hosting a panel interview and open Q&A session.
    Chaired by Arup’s Global Digital Energy / Digital Twin Leader and Gemini Call Chair, Simon Evans, the event began with the internet premiere of the new CReDo film, a poignant piece about the climate emergency and how it affects us all, especially the most vulnerable. The film offers a view of a world where engineers can make critical decisions based on data from connected digital twins, and improve resilience in a way which makes a difference to people’s lives. 
    CReDo project lead, Sarah Hayes, reflected on the reality of the film and explained how CReDo is developing a climate change adaptation digital twin looking at the impact of flooding on infrastructure interdependencies across energy, water and telecoms networks. Alongside, Sarah introduced the CReDo app, produced by the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI UK), which invites users to see how connected digital twins can change outcomes for those faced with extreme weather in the fictional town of Sunford City. Sarah explained how the app has been developed to show what a CReDo digital twin can do and that both the film and the app are based on the same fictional storm Ruby, a storm caused by climate change. The app was developed with manufactured data to present a realistic scenario that asset owners could be faced with.
    Behind the scenes, the technical team is working with the real data to develop the CReDo digital twin. CReDo Technical Architect, Tom Collingwood summarised the key elements of the project, which bring together climate projection data with flood data, and asset data to calculate system impact to inform a greater understanding of the system effects caused by asset failure. These insights can then be used to inform decisions concerning operational and capital planning to increase resilience across the infrastructure system as a whole. The digital twin demonstrator will show the bigger picture about what can be achieved through knowledge exchange and cross-sectoral cooperation. ‘We’re talking about people, and that’s what matters at the end of the day,’ Tom said, bringing his presentation on the challenges and successes of CReDo’s technical approach to a close.
    CReDo project partners, represented by Tom Burgoyne, Anglian Water; Louise Krug, BT; Matt Webb, UK Power Networks; and Tamar Loach, Connected Places Catapult, agree that the ambition relies on close collaboration and a joined-up approach to make it work. Data sharing between networks, enabled using an information management framework, will help us to create resilient infrastructure systems and allow us to adapt to extreme weather events caused by climate change. The active Q&A session underlined the need for the CReDo approach, emphasising the opportunities that joined-up systems and processes can deliver to this sector and others in reducing risk. Robin Pinning from the Hartree Centre, part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council, noted the need for culture change in understanding and in recognising the value of data, along with a drive for investment. One further topic, data security, is also at the forefront of everyone’s minds and CReDo is working towards establishing the framework to cover technical, legal, procedural and security concerns and applying federated access protocols.
    ‘Data and information are going to be key in mitigating climate change. Bringing that data together in digital twins is going to propel us to enhance resilience,’ Gavin Shaddick, Joint Centre for Excellence in Environmental Intelligence
    The expectation is that CReDo will be scalable to other networks, contexts and locations. Gavin spoke live from COP26, having seen at the conference a real understanding that data sharing in order to inform a bigger picture view is an important theme in developing resilience, adaptation and the pathway to Net Zero.
    There is no doubt that there will be technical challenges but desire for cross-sector collaboration for data sharing is growing fast. Gavin told the webinar, ‘Work that is going into CReDo on data interoperability and information management is directly transferable and this will make connecting digital twins much easier, both from the technological point of view and the learning in the non-technical aspects including data sharing agreements, how these are formulated and how to involve people in wide interdisciplinary groups’. Robert Pinning supports this view and believes that the project will translate easily to industry and the public sector, acting to speed up adoption of new projects and use cases.
    ‘There is a need to develop more use cases like CReDo to show the value that can be derived from digital twins,’ Tamar Loach, Technology Initiative Director, Connected Places Catapult.
    Ultimately, demonstrating the value will be down to collaborative effort across academia and industry, public and private sectors, within regions and nations, and globally. As this climate resilience project and similar use cases for connected digital twins catalyse action and enable change, then as a society we will be better positioned to adapt and respond to the challenges that face us.
    The CReDo team at the National Digital Twin programme would like to thank Simon Evans, the invited panel and the webinar guests for their valuable contributions at this event.
    For more information, contact Rachel Judson, credo@cdbb.cam.ac.uk
     
    Watch the webinar recording:
    View the CReDo film and try the app
     
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    Last chance to complete our 2021 Smart Infrastructure Index© with a special focus on digital twins. 
    Twelve months on from the release of our first version of the Index survey for asset owners and operators, we are broadening our reach so that our digital twin question set is relevant to all DT Hub members. 
    The Smart Infrastructure Index is a user-friendly way for DT Hub members to measure digital maturity and benchmark progress against peers.  
    Understand your digital maturity using a proven methodology   Identify capability gaps and priorities in your digital roadmap   Benchmark performance against peers and learn from the best   Start your Smart Infrastructure Index Survey here. 
    We will process entries until mid-November 2021. Once you have completed the survey, don’t forget to fill in your name and organisation to receive your personalised report including a score and targeted recommendations. These will be sent straight to your DT Hub email inbox. In the weeks that follow, we will analyse all responses and send everyone a full industry report. 
     
    Benefits of completing the survey
    For individuals: Instant, personalised results sent direct to your email inbox; see how your score compares to the sector average and best practice; view your tailored strategic recommendations; identify which archetype you are (optimist, traditionalist etc.)
    For organisations: Measure your digital maturity; identify what to prioritise; benchmark against the best
    Why should industry complete the Index? Index insights highlight common challenges, recommendations provide solutions to these challenges; benchmarking helps identify best practice, case studies can be shared; industry-wide capability gaps addressed as a priority
     
    Digital twin focus
    The DT Hub and Mott MacDonald Digital Ventures have worked together to bolster the standard Index of seven categories, with an additional question set for those working on the delivery of a major project or programme, and a question set that revolves around digital twins. The digital twin questions are designed specifically for members of the DT Hub and ask about:
    Digital twins Customers Commercial Digital transformation Asset management Asset delivery Asset performance Continuous improvement  
    When members complete the survey, the Index will generate a personalised report including a score and targeted recommendations, sent straight to their DT Hub email inbox after completion.

    Read the 2020 Index Survey Summary and watch the Interview
     
     
     
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    In the interview with Eleanor Voss, policy advisor to the NIC, we have begun to explore the recommendations from the NIC regarding the incorporation of resilience standards and the adoption of these by regulators. Eleanor has provided a comprehensive overview of the most pertinent areas of the study to our members and has provided us with the opportunity to influence the route that these recommendations may eventually take.
    For those who are not aware, The NIC is an arm’s length body of the treasury. The Commission makes recommendations to government on economic infrastructure policy. If government accept the Commission’s recommendations, they become government policy. For example, in 2017, the NIC published the report, Data for the Public Good, which made recommendations to government on the opportunities that data, machine learning, AI and digital twins present for infrastructure planning, operation and resilience. Now, of course, following acceptance of many of the NIC’s recommendations in the report, the Centre for Digital Built Britain is taking forward much of this work through its National Digital Twin Programme. The Commission continues to play a role in steering this valuable programme.
    In the past, the NIC has approached resilience from a sector level, for example, water and energy, but with the current environmental, population and technological changes, resilience has become a pressing issue with a need for a cross sector approach.  This is particularly highlighted by the interdependent nature of infrastructure. In 2018, the then chancellor asked the NIC to undertake a cross sector study, and to recommend to government, policy measures needed to ensure the resilience of the energy, telecommunications, water and transport sectors.  A few weeks ago, the NIC published its study of infrastructure resilience – Anticipate, React, Recover: Resilient Infrastructure Systems. The report calls for government to set standards for the resilience of our infrastructure and create a framework to ensure that these standards will be met now and in the future.  Today, of course, the impact of Covid-19 has meant that resilience is being discussed by everyone.
    Resilience?
    In order for an asset to fully satisfy its function in a manner that is effective it is often said that it is necessary for it to be resilient. But what do we actually mean by that? During the interview with Eleanor, she refers to it as infrastructure systems, engineering and organisational systems being able to:
    anticipate, resist, absorb, recover, adapt and transform.
    That places quite a high degree of responsibility on the ownership, operation and design of an asset or system. With the publication of the NIC report recommending Government publish resilience standards and for regulators to introduce these as new obligations on infrastructure operators by 2023, it is absolutely essential that we are able to understand how this might affect us and what preparatory work we can be doing now to be ready.
    Measure?
    The first part of ensuring that an asset is resilient is measurement. This is where we want to focus the discussion in the Hub. It is vital that we are able to provide feedback into the Commission regarding the feasibility of their recommendations and the only way in which we can reasonably look to do this is through assessing the practicality and viability of first measuring and then later utilising these results. Within the interview, Eleanor draws out three key areas where your guidance would be beneficial.  These are:
    1.   How do we identify the appropriate level of granularity for data and models such that they can support the measurement of resilience?
    2.   Providing accurate simulations for complex systems such as infrastructure requires a realistic digital representation of the physical one. As this is the core aims of Digital Twins, how can we use Digital Twins in areas such as what-if scenario planning and assessing the necessary circumstances which lead to loss of service?
    3.   Dependencies/interdependencies how can we use Digital Twins to understand these and manage them?
     
    Within the Hub we would like to encourage members to consider these questions from the perspective of the asset owner/operator they represent and allow us to provide useful feedback to the commission. The Hub will be running this discussion until the end of August when we will segue the discussion and start looking at supporting adaptive planning.
     
     
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    We have embarked on several industrial ages and long before the arrival of the digital age there were the spinning jenny, coalmines, steam engines and telegraph poles which created the momentum for the economy we have today.
    This platform of industrial progress has enabled our urbanisation, the travel between urban centres and ultimately, the digital connection between them to support a global industrialised commerce system.
    The Internet of Computers
    The Internet is a loose arrangement of connected but autonomous networks of devices. The devices act as hosts (or connected computers) for a specific purpose (a website host for example) and communicate through a protocol that ties together the interconnected set of networks and devices.
    It is not only the backdrop of our new industrial age that makes the Internet fascinating. It was the culture that emerged from its creation.
    ‘Request for Comments’ created by junior team members of the ARPANET project enabled a loose and counter-hierarchical method for building consensus and developing standards.
    That counter-culture was to have a profound impact on the culture of collaborators in internet-engineering circles. These collaborators maintained a meritocracy which was open and inclusive. Hacker culture was born from this and ultimately, the first internet protocol, the Network Control Protocol.
    The founders of this interconnected network said:
    Open source and hacking were founding behaviours within the culture of early internet engineers.
    But the Internet was only the first step in our journey to today’s digital economy.
    You have to keep in mind that computing in the 1960s was exclusive to national governments, the military and businesses. However, the proliferation of the telephone provided a vision of the future for connected computing.
    In the 1970s, to meet the demand for connecting multiple computers together, Local Area Networks (LANs) were created. The demand for connectivity did not stop there, the Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), opened LANs to connect to other LANs.
    In 1981 there were only 200 interconnected computers. Despite the vision of an interconnected community of people linked through purpose and interests, instead of proximity, practically it was still a long way away.
    Internet of Business
    What about the dot-com-silicon-valley fairytale of rags to riches?
    CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, an owner of the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, had a wicked problem to solve:
    How can CERN map the complex relationships between the various people, programs and systems?
    The answer was Enquire, a programme that Tim Berners-Lee created to attempt to achieve that outcome at a local level. This effort eventually led to the creation of a World Wide Web of information. It was no longer about merely connecting computers to the Internet, and it became our foundation for publishing the information on those computers to the world.
    Despite the creation of hypertext mark-up language (HTML) and facilitating connections through uniform resource locations (URL) (the addresses we use to visit data on the web), there was little interest in the WWW. The initiative was twice shelved and worked on without any formal approval. Eventually, through creating a browser for this WWW, its benefits were realised.
    The first ‘thing’ connected was a toaster in 1990.
    In 1995 the state ownership of the Internet ended (where the fair use policy restricted commercialisation), unleashing the commercial opportunity of the Internet.
    From connecting millions of computers to selling millions of products on eBay, the web rapidly went from a data sharing and discovery tool to a fully functioning marketplace.
    Investors marvelled at the most extensive initial public offering in history (1995) when Netscape (an internet browser), at just two years old, went public. Burners-Lee was vindicated as he was begging uninterested students to develop web software only a few years previous.
    By July 1997, there were 19.6 million connected computers, and Amazon had over 1 million customers.
    No brief history of the web would be complete without a mention of Google. A play on the word Googol, which denotes a massive number, Page and Brin set out to make the WWW discoverable. Yahoo! Offered to buy Google for $3bn, Google rejected the offer and eventually generated a need for the Oxford English Dictionary to add the verb Google.
    The end of the ’90s saw the first dot-com bubble burst, and the NASDAQ peaked at 500% higher than what it had been when Netscape offered it's IPO 5 years earlier. The market contraction was significant, Alan Greenspan coined the phrase irrational exuberance, and it captured the economic problem well.
    The Internet of Media
    While the latter stages for the commercial aspect of the Internet failed, hacking and the open-source movement were still active. Wikipedia demonstrated the power of open and collaborative systems. It had 20,000 articles in 2002 and grew to 2.5 million by 2009, today it contains 28 billion words in 52 million articles in 309 languages.
    Web 2.0 was to take the plastic nature of digital information and extend the Internet into a platform for connecting people with rich media. The printing press, compact disk, and the physical bank statements rom your bank were unable to match the plasticity of the Internet.
    A simple example is Craigslist, a user-driven website that allows its users to buy and sell anything. It was started by Craig Newmark who circulated e-mail newsletters among friends with notices of events in San Francisco. By utilising the Internet, it became a website with 20 billion page views a month!
    It did not stop there, in 1996 the song ‘Until it sleeps’ by Metallica became the first track to be illegally copied from CD and made available on the Internet as an MP3. It pathed a way for a generation to thinking music and other digitally related creative output should be digital, easy to access and nearly free.
    64% of teenagers in 2007 had created content to upload to the Internet.
    Solving the problem of compression to enable media to be streamed over the Internet redefined the entertainment industry and shaped today's internet culture, which is now considered pop culture.
    The Internet of Things
    There are 20 billion devices connected to the Internet today. In 2013 Hal Varian, Google’s Chief Economist, wrote:
    We have reached a moment where the website is almost obsolete, and our interface with the WWW is purely through streamed data through services (like Netflix and video games on Steam) or specific applications (like Facebook and TikTok on mobiles).
    It is clear from the rolling history of the Internet that there is still an opportunity for its extensibility. Where the early founding students in ARPANET set the tone of the culture of openness and agility, leading to connecting computers to computers, networks to networks and toasters to other things.
    That might sound like an obvious thing to say. However, I honestly believe we are still in the early stages of an internet that will converge vast networks of national infrastructure to the benefit of the citizen.

    We must preserve the playful and collaborative nature found in internet culture.
    Today, The Internet of the Built Environment
    From connecting a toaster in 1990 to connecting our built environment, the Internet has been on a rapid journey, and that journey does not stop here.
    What next for the Internet? More than data and databases, more than information management, it will help us understand our built and natural environments in new and profound ways.
    The vision of the Internet enabling an interconnected community of people linked through purpose and interests, instead of proximity is a reality today. The Flourishing Systems paper has developed today’s vision of the Internet.
    That flourishing converging network of infrastructure systems is enabled by the National Digital Twin programme, and it draws some interesting parallels from the creation of the modern Internet.
    The Commons is a place where we create the protocols needed to connect economic and social infrastructure digitally. A fundamental founding principle of the commons is setting the behaviour of collaborators. We aim to capture the essence of opensource and collaborate openly with the members of the DT Hub.
    With that cultural underpinning, the Commons is also like a zipper, where we have a foundation that makes the initial connection and the slider (the commons) moves to connect the following elements together.

    The foundation data model and the reference data libraries are like the TCP/IP and HTML frameworks. They form the protocols for connecting digital twins together and enables the built environment to communicate digitally.
    This extension of the Internet is a platform for creativity and profound economic growth. Much like the Internet, the founders did not predict its impact on creative industries and pollical power through empowering communities.
    We will not know the future impact of this technology, but it will be impactful.
    Lastly, it is our only chance to adapt our built environment to operate in harmony with our natural environment.
    The National Digital Twin Programme is standing at the beginning of a new wave of interconnectedness, and with open and inclusive collaboration, we will take the first step into a new future.
     
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    To explore how digital twins are defined and the overarching concepts around them, the DT Hub hosted a five-part talk series (available here).  
    These talks were introduced by Sam Chorlton, chair of the Digital Twin Hub, who highlighted the fact that digital twin are not a new concept but rather that the technologies are now at a point where they can have a meaningful impact. With the national digital twin (NDT) programme leveraging now matured technologies and principles, these talks were aimed at exploring how they could be utilized within the built environment.  In each case, a video from the speaker was used to spark an online discussion involving a mix of stakeholders and experts from across the value chain. 
    This first series of talks included: 
    Olivier Thereaux (ODI), Towards a web of digital twins;  Brian Matthews (DAFNI), Meeting the Digital Twin Challenge;  Tanguy Coenen (IMEC), Urban Digital Twins;  Neil Thompson (Akins), Twinfrastructure; and  Simon Evans (Arup), Digital Roundtable.   Towards a Web of Digital Twins 
    Beginning the digital twin talk series, Olivier Thereaux from the Open Data Institute (ODI) considered the parallels between the world wide web and the need to connect digital twins to form a national digital twin.  By first citing the Gemini Principles and establishing what a digital twin is, Olivier articulated the rationale for their adoption by explaining the concept of digital twin as an approach to collect data to inform decision making within an interactive cycle. 

    Olivier provided further detail about the need to both share and receive data from external datasets (e.g. weather data) and other related digital twins.  To enable this exchange, he proposed the need for data infrastructure such as standards and common taxonomies.  As these connections develop, Olivier foresees the development of a “network of twins” that regularly exchange data.  Scaling these networks, a national digital twin could be achieved. 
    Responding to Olivier’s talk, DT Hub members and guests asked a wide range of questions including on the adherence of technologies to standards, with Olivier confirming the existing of suitable standards; and referring to the work done by W3C and others.  In addition, questions were posed around connecting twins that span cross-sectors and the need to ensure trust in data. 
    The full Q&A discussion transcript can be found here. 
    In addition, Olivier has also kindly produced an article on the topic of his talk, which can be found here. 
    Meeting the Digital Twin Challenge 
    Following Olivier, Dr. Brian Matthews from DAFNI presented on the DAFNI platform and the challenges related to developing an ecosystem of connected digital twins.  Citing Sir John Armitt and Data for the Public Good, Brian emphasized how data is now considered as important as concrete or steel in regard to UK national infrastructure.  Building on the digital twin definition given by Olivier, Brian proposed two types of digital twin:  
    Reactive.  Dynamic model with input from live (near real time) data; and  Predictive.  Static model with input from corporate systems.  Linking to the Gemini Principles, Brian acknowledges that a single digit twin is impossible; requiring an ecosystem to achieve a national digital twin. Delving deeper, Brian looked at some of the associated technical challenges related to scaling and integration. He also talked about how the DAFNI platform can meet these challenges, by enabling connections between data and models, in support of the NDT programme.  
    Responding to Brian’s talk, participants asked questions about whether “historic” could be considered an additional digital twin type with Brian confirming that historical are considered within the proposed types..  A lot of the discussion focused on data and data sets. This included the exchange data used by DAFNI with Brian confirming the use of a standardized dataset called DCAT which DAFNI are planning to publish. There were also questions to contextualize DAFNI within the NDT programme. 
    The full Q&A discussion transcript can be found here. 
    Urban Digital Twins 
    Following Brian, Tanguy Coenen from IMEC presented on IMEC’s built environment digital twin (BuDi) as well as the idea of a city-scale digital twin.  Explaining BuDi’s role as a decision-marking tool informed by near real-time data via sensors and IoT devices, Tanguy articulated how BuDI can support several use cases.  In addition, Tanguy also considered digital twin use case types by considering: 
    Yesterday: Historical  Today: Realtime  Tomorrow: Predictive  Considering current smart cities as a set of silos, Tanguy expressed a desire for interoperability and data connectivity between these disparate datasets to form a urban digital twin what can support both public and private asset collections. 
    Responding to Tanguy’s talk, questions were asked about terminology and the relationship to the ISO smart cities initiatives as well as the importance of standards around open data.  Tanguy confirmed IMECs desire to support and align with these efforts.  When asked about high-value use cases, Tanguy referred to: people flow, air quality and flooding as key urban-scale use cases. 
    The full Q&A discussion transcript can be found here. 
    Twinfrastructure 
    Continuing the digital twin talk series, Neil Thompson from Atkins introduced the Commons workstream and the Glossary, a key mechanism to enable a common language to support the NDT programme.  Neil described the Commons mission to build capability through an evidence-based approach, and drew several parallels between the commons and the creation of the internet, including utilizing open and agile methodologies. As thinking develops, Neil sees the commons as the location for discussion and consensus gathering to support formal standardization once consensus had been achieved. 
    Responding to Neil’s talk, questions were asked about where a similar approach to consensus building had taken place with Neil referring to examples such as GitHub and Stackoverflow.  Questions were also asked about the glossaries relationship to existing resources, with Neil referring to its ability to record whether an entry is a “shared” term. 
    The full Q&A discussion transcript can be found here. 
    In addition, the Glossary that Neil referred to can be found here. 
    Digital Roundtable 
    Finally, to conclude the digital twin talk series, Simon Evans from Arup moderated a round table discussion between the previous speakers.  Brian, Tanguy, Neil and Simon provided their reflections and insight and answered questions from the audience. 
    The round table dealt with a wide array of topics such as: 
    What makes digital twins different for the built environment compared to other sectors?  With the roundtable agreeing that the aspects that constitute a digital twin have been present in the built environment, but the use of the term demonstrates an evolution of thinking, the need for data connectivity, outcome focus, and a focus on data-driven decision making. 
      How the NDT programme will address security and interoperability challenges? With the roundtable referring to the Information Management Framework Pathway and a future pathway related to security and security-mindedness.  
      How might a digital twin support social distancing?  With the roundtable providing examples of using hydrodynamic modelling and occupant monitoring via camera data to monitor and support social distance policies.  The videos of each of the talks as well as the round table discussion can be found here. 
     
    And there we have it.  This series digital twin talks was developed to explore how digital twins are defined and the overarching concepts around them.  Thank you for contributing to the discussions.  Your level of engagement and willingness to share are what have made these talks a success.   
    Please let me know what topics you would like future digital twin talks to address? If you have any suggestions on how to improve these talks? Or who you may want to hear a talk from in the future. 
     
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    In my first article, I explored the basic concept of digital twins. Fundamentally, they are a digital replica of a physical thing - a ‘twin’. But depending on maturity, this replica can range from a simple representation of a local component, all the way to a fully integrated and highly accurate model of an entire asset, facility or even a country, with each component dynamically linked to engineering, construction, and operational data.
    This broad range of what a digital twin can be has made defining and understanding them extremely difficult, with disagreement on what level of maturity or features constitute a ‘true’ digital twin. Inflated market expectations, promising more than is currently achievable, have further complicated things.
    In this second article (attachment below), I put forward a maturity spectrum in an attempt to offer more clarity and understanding. Undoubtedly there will be critics, but it has been tested extensively cross-industry and seems to offer a clear framework for simply articulating what a digital twin is at each element of maturity.
    I welcome feedback as industry continue working to create a common definition.
     
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    Why This Theme?
    DT Hub activities focus on a set of thematic areas (themes) that are based on shared opportunities and challenges for members. These themes are areas where collaboration can help members to gain greater understanding and make more progress towards realising the potential benefits of digital twins. 
    This short introductory piece outlines the scope and approach for the third theme “Pathway to value”: 
    Why is this theme important? Each of the members we spoke to raised concerns that their development of digital twins may be hindered without a clear ability to demonstrate value to others, including senior management and stakeholders.  While most member organizations have top-level support for digital twins it is still difficult for them to progress from pilots towards larger scale investments. 
    Sharing examples of the value that is already being generated by digital twins, from other members and more widely, can increase support and accelerate adoption. In addition, there is a desire to consider and share thinking on steps along the roadmap towards greater value at greater scale.  
      
    Scope 
    This theme will facilitate discussions between members and other stakeholders on: 
    Shared or common use cases, outcomes from existing digital twins and opportunities for future collaboration  Costs and blockers  Strategic approach and roadmaps for digital twins  The goal is to build on work being done through the NDT programme and generate ideas and recommendations based on real-world experience from members and from the wider market.  This may influence the development of future tools to quantify value as well as overall thinking on the roadmap towards a federated national digital twin.  
    Engaging with this theme can help digital twin users and stakeholders start to address questions like: 
    What use cases offer the greatest potential value?  How can I measure the value from digital twins, encompassing economic (profit), social (people) and environmental (planet) benefits?  How will my organisation benefit from the implementation of digital twins?  What are the blockers to realising value and how can we address these?  What are some of the steps on the roadmap towards greater value at greater scale?  What can I learn from other industries that are implementing digital twins at scale?   
    Objectives 
    The main objectives for this theme are then to: 
    Map use cases within a pre-existing framework, and consider measures of value (we have started by mapping to people, planet, profit)  Identify potential blockers and possible approaches to address these  Assess strategies/roadmaps from members and the wider market  Generate insights for members and feedback learnings to the wider NDT programme including potential needs for any tools or frameworks   
    Get involved 
    You can already start to get involved, including by:
    Commenting on the posts in the dedicated space for this theme Starting your own topic where you have ideas to share We want this theme to be driven by member’s views and priorities, so it would also be great if you would like to comment on this post including on:
    Where you are seeing initiatives that could benefit articulating the digital twin value proposition Use cases and in-house examples that might help inform this work Specific value pathway activities you may be working on related to use cases or value models Any views that you have on what digital twin value pathways look like (DT Hub facilitation Team)
     
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    Digital technologies are no longer considered tools to satisfy a need for efficiency, they are active agents in value creation and new value propositions [1].
    The term “digital twin” has entered the regular vocabulary across a myriad of sectors.  It’s consistently used as an example of industry revolution and is considered fundamental to transformation, but the broad scope of the concept makes a common definition difficult. Yet it’s only once we understand and demystify the idea - and can see a path to making it reality - that we will start to realise the benefits.
    Heavy promotion by technology and service providers has inflated expectations, with most focusing on what a digital twin can potentially achieve when fully implemented, which is like buying a unicorn even if currently cost-prohibitive. Few refer to the milestones along the journey, or incremental value-proving developments. This is evidenced, in part, by the fact that only 5% of enterprises have started implementing digital twins, and less than 1% of assets have one [2].
    Over the course of three blogs, I will attempt to demystify the concept and break through the platitudes, answering the fundamental questions: What is a digital twin? What type of new skills and capabilities are required? Will a digital twin generate value? And will it support better decision making?
     
    “Digital” in context
    Digital twins are symptomatic of the broader trend toward digitalisation, which is having a profound effect on businesses and society. Widely cited as the “fourth industrial revolution” [3] or Industry 4.0 (broadly following: steam power (c1760-c1840), electricity (c1870-c1914) and microchips (c1970)), it’s characterized by a fusion of technologies that blur the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres – such as artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles and Internet of Things (IoT).
    Though the exact dates of the earlier revolutions are disputed, their timeframes were slower than the rapid pace and scale of today’s disruption, and still they saw companies and individuals that were slow or reluctant to embrace change being left behind.
    The digital revolution is unique, and derives in part from a new ability to massively improve quality and productivity by converging technologies and sources of data within a collaborative framework, which inherently challenges the business and organisational models of the past. Not only this, but the online connection of all assets together (the Internet of Things), is the key enabler to the next phase of industrial development.
    The complexity of assets, and cost of developing and operating them makes any promise of efficiency gains and improved performance immensely attractive. However, the reality of digital transformation to offer these rewards has too often fallen short. The failure comes from a rush to introduce digital technologies, products, and services without understanding the work processes in which they will be used, or the associated behaviours and joined up thinking required to make them effective.
    While individual products and services have their place, significant gains in efficiency and productivity will only come by weaving a constellation of technologies together and connecting them with data sources, followed by supporting management and application of that data through project, asset and organisational developments.
    Is data the “new oil” or the “new asbestos”? and how can industry start tangibly benefiting from the digital twin concept?
    With data apparently the “new oil”, or maybe the “new asbestos”, and against a backdrop of digital transformation being viewed by many sceptics as a fashionable buzzword, how can industry start tangibly executing and harnessing the benefits of the digital twin concept?
     
    Digital twin basics
    Fundamentally, a digital twin is just a digital representation (model) of a physical thing - its ‘twin’; and therein lies the complexity of this industry agnostic concept. Other commonly used terms, such as Building Information Modelling (BIM), Building Lifecycle Management (BLM) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) represent similar concepts with some important distinctions, that are all part of the same theme of data generation and information management.
    The term “digital twin” first appeared in 2010, developing from the conceptual evolution of PLM in 2002 [4]. Since then, it’s meaning has evolved from simply defining a PLM tool into an integral digital business decision assistant and an agent for new value and service creation [5]. Over time many have attempted to define the digital twin, but often these definitions focus on just a small part of the asset lifecycle, such as operations.  
    “A digital twin can range from a simple 2D or 3D model with a basic level of detail, to a fully integrated model of an entire facility with each component dynamically linked to engineering, construction, and operational data”
    A digital twin can range from a simple 2D or 3D model of a local component, with a basic level of detail, all the way to a fully integrated and highly accurate model of an asset, an entire facility, or even a country [6], with each component dynamically linked to engineering, construction, and operational data.
    There is no single solution or platform used to provide a digital twin, just as there isn’t one CAD package used to create a drawing or 3D model. It’s a process and methodology, not a technology; a concept of leveraging experience-based wisdom by managing and manipulating a multitude of datasets.
    While a fully developed digital model of a facility remains an objective, practically speaking, we are delivering only the “low hanging fruit” pieces of this concept for most facilities now.  These fractional elements, however, all point towards a common goal:  to contribute a value-added piece that is consistent with the overall concept of the digital twin.  As technology and techniques improve, we predict the convergence of the individual parts and the emergence of much more complete digital twins for industrial scale facilities, and ultimately entire countries.
    “There is no single solution or platform used to provide a digital twin, just as there isn’t one CAD package used to create a drawing or 3D model”
    The ultimate aim is to create a “single version of truth” for an asset, where all data can be accessed and viewed throughout the design-build-operate lifecycle. This is distinctly different to a “single source of truth”, as a digital twin is about using a constellation, or ecosystem, of technologies that work and connect.
    The digital twin promises more effective asset design, project execution, and facility operations by dynamically integrating data and information throughout the asset lifecycle to achieve short and long-term efficiency and productivity gains.
    As such, there is an intrinsic link between the digital twin and all the ‘technologies’ of the fourth industrial revolution, principally IoT, artificial intelligence and machine learning. As sensors further connect our physical world together, monitoring the state and condition, the digital twin can be considered the point of convergence of the internet-era technologies, and has been made possible by their maturity. For example, the reducing costs of storage, sensors and data capture, and the abundance of processing power and connectivity.
    The digital twin is a data resource that can improve design of a new facility or to understand the condition of an existing asset, to verify the as-built situation, run ‘what if’ simulations and scenarios, or provide a digital snapshot for future works. This vastly reduces the potential for errors and discontinuity present in more traditional methods of information management.
    As asset owners pivot away from document silos and toward dynamic and integrated data systems, the digital twin should be become an embedded part of the enterprise.  Like the financial or HR systems that we expect to be dynamic and accurate, the digital twin should represent a living as-built representation of the operating asset, standing ready at all times to deliver value to the business.
    Each digital twin fits into the organisation’s overall digital ecosystem like a jigsaw, alongside potentially many other digital twins for different assets or systems. These can be ‘federated’ or connected via securely shared data - making interoperability and data governance key. In simple terms, this overall digital ecosystem consists of all the organisational and operational systems, providing a so-called ‘digital thread’.
    Author: Simon Evans. Digital Energy Leader, Arup. Delivery Team Lead, National Digital Twin Programme
    [1] Herterich, M. M., Eck, A., and Uebernickel, F. (2016). Exploring how digitized products enable industrial service innovation. 24th European Conference on Information Systems; 1–17.
    [2] Gartner, Hype Cycle for O&G
    [3] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/digital-disruption-has-only-just-begun/
    [4] Digital Twin: Manufacturing Excellence through Virtual Factory Replication. White Paper, pages 1 – 7
    [5] Service business model innovation: the digital twin technology
    [6] Centre of Digital Build Britain, The Gemini Principles
     
     
     
     
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    Why this theme?
    DT Hub activities focus on a set of thematic areas (themes) that are based on shared opportunities and challenges for members. These themes are areas where collaboration can help members to gain greater understanding and make more progress towards realising the potential benefits of digital twins.
    This short introductory piece outlines the scope and approach for the second theme: Digital twin competencies:
    To help organizations understand the competencies, skills and cultural considerations that can help them to successfully adopt digital twins, as well as fostering collaboration and making recommendations on the best way forward
    Why did we identify this theme as priority? Each of the members we spoke to raised concerns about digital competencies within the built environment.  To maximize the value that a digital twin can bring to an organization, the different actors who might undertake digital twin related activities must have the necessary knowledge, skill, and authority to do so.
    In other words, without a sufficiently competent set of individuals to realize the benefits, digital twins will be under-utilized.  In recognition of the built environment’s challenges with training and upskilling its workforce as well as the concern raised by DT Hub members, this has become a prioritized theme.
    Scope
    This theme will build on work being done through the National Digital Twin (NDT) programme Enablers stream and will develop ideas and recommendations based on real-world experience from members and from the wider market.  In addition, this theme will also help to test some of the underlying principles of the NDT programme which may influence future digital competency frameworks.
    Engaging with this theme can help digital twin owners start to address questions like:
    Who within my organization should interact with our digital twins? How will they interact with digital twins? What knowledge and skills are needed to undertake these activities? What skills gaps do I have and what gaps are there in the built environment overall? When looking to hire new staff who will interact with our digital twins, and what core competencies should I be looking for? What cultural orientation is helpful to successful implement digital twins – what can I learn from others? Related to the first bullet above, work has been started by some members to identify the types of actors that may interface with their digital twins. Building on this work, we plan to discuss and agree a schedule of “personas”, that broadly represent a suite of roles, and then build a profile of the competencies against each persona.
    Objectives
    The main objectives for this theme are then to:
    Identify a schedule of personas that cover relevant roles for a notional organization, ensuring sufficient flexibility and scalability. Understand (from examples) what digital twin related activities each persona is expected to undertake Using an industry recognised system such as the European Qualification Framework (EQF) to map knowledge, skill, and autonomy requirements to each of the relevant activities Feedback learnings to inform into the development of the NDT programme Enablers work Generate insight to potentially develop a digital twin competency framework NOTE: It is acknowledged that organizations such as CITB are working on digital competency frameworks, and it is hoped that engagement with such activities is done via the Enablers stream. 
    We’re already starting on the first set of activities for this theme and we are creating some content for you to dive into including:
    A Webinar to discuss the theme requirements, including a broad discussion around persona and competencies. Topics and posts to kick off conversation within the hub (for example a piece on competencies related anonymizing data) as well as links to interesting external sources based on this research. We are adding these to a dedicated forum for theme 2   Research into interesting examples from other industries of approaches that consider digital competencies (coming soon - we will also add interesting links to the theme 2 forum) What next?
    There are lots of opportunities for you to get involved, including in activities to flesh out this theme. We want this to be driven by member’s views and priorities, so it would be great if you would comment on this post including to tell us:
    Where you are seeing initiatives that could benefit skills development in the digital twin area Use cases and in-house examples that might help inform this work Specific competency activities you may be working on related to building knowledge and skills Any views that you have on what digital twin competencies look like  
     
     
     
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    Priority themes
    The DT Hub is the place for early adopters to share good practice and learn from each other based on real-world experience. DT Hub activities focus on facilitating collaboration between members, to gain greater understanding and catalyse progress towards realising the potential benefits of digital twins. Discussions are grouped into a set of thematic areas (themes), the first three of which are:
    Testing digital twin concepts: What are digital twins, what are main building blocks for twins and how can we develop common understanding? Digital twin competencies: What capabilities, skills and culture are needed to successfully implement twins? Pathway to value: building and sharing value cases; what is the roadmap to increased scale and greater value? The idea is to combine good thinking from members’ strategies, use cases and projects. As well as leaning from the wider market. This will generate guidance and recommendations to feed into the wider National Digital Twin (NDT) Programme.
    Why start here?
    The selection of the initial three themes reflects a desire to address “foundational” concepts and thinking on digital twins. That is, to take on some of the shared challenges to build common understanding and unblock or accelerate opportunities. The work on these themes can then help to tackle the:
    Need for clarity on whether something can really be classed as a twin, and understand the key building blocks of a twin, to evaluate  vendors claims; and to enable greater consistency for future development of twins Desire to better understand the skills and cultural orientation needed as twins are rolled out operationally (e.g. what does a field engineer want to do with a twin, versus someone from an innovation team) Requirement to build fuller value cases (which include societal, environmental and financial benefits) as twins move from initial pilots towards wide-scale implementation The initial work on themes will also provide a foundation to address other key priorities based on the Gemini Principles (which set out proposed principles to guide the national digital twin and the information management framework that will enable it) such as data quality and security. The better we understand the scope and key building blocks of digital twins (through activities such as the discussions relating to theme 1), the easier it will be to consider what digital twin use cases will be most valuable, which will also help inform security-related and other requirements.
    The three themes also relate to each other. Understanding more about the definitions, concepts and buildings blocks for digital twins (theme 1) will inform the skills, capabilities and organizational culture that may be required to successfully implement twins (theme 2). Equally, these themes will be vital to help each organization to shape clear strategies and roadmaps and to map out a pathway to value at scale (theme 3).
    Focus on projects and use cases
    A major focus of this community is to “learn by doing and progress through sharing”. Each theme will draw directly on the work that members are doing and planning related to digital twins. Members are invited to share insights from their work on digital twin strategies and applications. In particular, the more that you can share on your projects in the “DT (Digital Twin) Register” section of the portal the more we can all learn from each other.
    The goal is also to share thinking on common use cases, and leverage these to test evolving thinking for each theme. We’re already starting to do that for theme 1, where examples of important digital twin use cases include:
    Predictive maintenance, progressing to increased automation and even “self-healing” assets Efficiency and carbon reduction in logistics Planning (from short term operational needs, through to longer term strategy and resilience)  
    How to get involved
    There are lots of ways to get involved and contribute your ideas, or tap into the content and insights being generated for each theme including:
    Telling us about your digital twins in the DT (Digital Twin) Register Joining a webinar to discuss the themes. (We are sending out invitations for a theme 2 webinar on 24th March). Review materials from previous webinars on the “Resources” page Commenting on posts in the “Themes” pages, starting with the first theme on “Testing digital twin concepts”. Think there’s something we should be talking about? Start a new topic or let us know about through “Contact Us” at the bottom of each page Joining a live conversation to dig into the themes in more detail (we’ll share more on these later)  
    (From the DT Hub facilitation team).

    the_pathway_towards_an_imf.pdf DTHUb_NewbieGuide_May2020_(1).pdf HUB Version_DT Standards Roadmap_November 2020 (3).pdf
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    Context:
    DT Hub activities focus on a set of thematic areas (themes) that are based on shared opportunities and challenges for members. These themes are areas where collaboration can help members to gain greater understanding and make progress towards realising the potential benefits of digital twins.
    The first theme is called “Testing digital twin concepts”. The focus is on:
    Helping DT Hub members increase common understanding of digital twin definitions and concepts, then test and refine this thinking in specific use cases and projects where there is potential to deliver significant value
     
    Why start with this theme? Each of the members we spoke to felt that it is difficult to systematically plan and progress digital twins without a clear understanding of what digital twins are, when something is classified as a digital twin, and what are the key concepts or building blocks that lie behind these twins.
    In other words, discussing digital twin concepts and definitions is a “foundational” activity that is needed to underpin future activities. Moreover, it is difficult to think about making digital twins more connected and interoperable, as stepping-stones towards a national digital twin, if the approach to each twin is inconsistent.
    Scope:
    This theme will build on work being done through the NDT Programme, including the Gemini Principles, and feed back ideas and recommendations based on real-world experience from members and from the wider market. 
    There are other reasons why this work is needed. As with other major technology developments, from the internet of things to AI, a growing range of players will claim to have tech solutions for digital twins. There is a risk here of “twinwash”. If every sharp-looking 3D visualization is labelled as a “digital twin”, regardless of whether or not it bears any relation to real-world physical assets, this can create confusion and risks devaluing “real” twins.
    Tackling this theme can help digital twin owners start to address questions like:
    What makes my digital twin a twin? What types of areas (e.g. related to data, models, analytics, control systems etc) do I need to consider in creating digital twin strategies and planning for individual digital twin projects? What can I learn from the approaches taken by others to defining and scoping digital twins -including how this relates to specific use cases? How do I relate and connect multiple digital twins within my organization? How does my twin (and the approach I’m taking to it) relate to other third-party twins? For example, how will a water pipeline twin connect with a highways or city twin? Related to the first bullet above, at least some DT Hub members would like to see the creation of a “Turing test for twins”. In other words, to have an agreed set of criteria established as the minimum threshold for a twin to be considered a twin. At the same time, there is also a desire for flexibility - the scope of twins will vary according to the intended purpose and specific use case. For example, not all twins will involve real-time control and actuation.
    Objectives:
    The main objectives for this theme are then to:
    Provide insights on “good” approaches to describe and classify digital twins and their constituent elements – building on the Gemini Principles Understand (from examples) how other industries have advanced their digital twin journeys Apply this thinking to specific use cases in existing or planned founding member digital twins in areas where there is the potential to deliver significant value Help DT Hub members to achieve greater consistency across their organizations and with supply chains and partners Develop an intuitive “test” for what constitutes a digital twin Feedback learnings into the evolution of the “Commons” and  the Gemini Principles  
    Activities
    We’ve already started on the first set of activities for this theme and created some content for you to dive into including:
    A Webinar to start to relate this to the Gemini principles and to identify some initial use case priorities Research into interesting examples from other industries of approaches to defining and developing twins Creation of blog-style “conversation starters” (for example insights from aerospace and manufacturing as well as thoughts on approaches to defining twins) as well as links to interesting external sources based on this research. We are adding these to a dedicated space for theme 1  
    What next?
    There are still plenty of opportunities for you to get involved, including activities to flesh out this theme. This includes an online “jam” – a virtual event that we’ll host on the DT Hub, dates to be confirmed.
    We want this theme to be driven by member’s views and priorities, so it would be great if you would like to comment on this post including on:
    Existing initiatives that could feed into this work Use cases that we should prioritise to test emerging thinking on digital twin concepts Specific digital twin projects you are be working on Your views that on what makes a digital twin a twin  
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    The first theme that we are addressing in the Hub is “Testing digital twin concepts”. This was identified as a key foundational element by the DT Hub members – to help increase understanding and inform the development of strategies and projects.
    It will build on the Gemini Principles and generate recommendations to feed into the National Digital Twin (NDT) “Commons” stream.
    The theme is summarised as “helping DT Hub members to increase common understanding related to digital twin definitions and concepts, and then to test and refine this thinking within specific use cases and projects where there is potential to deliver significant value.”
    You can find out more on the objectives, activities and selection process for the theme in the attached document. 
    DT Hub Theme 1 report 19 December 2019.pdf
     
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    In November 2019, we ran a workshop session with DT Hub founder members to discuss candidates for the first theme(s) to focus on. This was based on analysis of 1-2-1 interviews with each member, where we identified common opportunities, challenges and areas for collaboration.
    The attached slides summarise the main areas discussed at the workshop, with high-priority candidate themes including: digital twin definitions and concepts; skills and culture; pathway to increased value.
    Following on from the workshop, we are now focused on the first theme “Testing digital twin concepts”.
     
    DT Hub Interview analysis and potential themes December 2019.pdf
     
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    The value of the twin: A tale for twin-sceptics…
    Not so long ago whilst debating the use case for Digital Twins with a colleague I found myself passionately declaring, “just because we could, doesn’t mean we should!”.
    As context my role within the built environment, either by accident or design, has always been to make digital methods of construction accessible for the boots on the ground. I, along with a whole sector worth of peers, had been fighting the good Building Information Modelling (BIM) fight for years. However, just as we were making progress and gaining consensus another buzzword clatters down on us, causing a whole new avalanche of ambiguity and confusion.
    I figured that I could either plug my fingers in to my ears and become ignorant or jump on board and help to steer the ship. Reluctantly, I decided “better the devil you know”, and went off on a fact-finding mission.
    This was when I came across the Centre for Digital Built Britain’s (CDBB) Gemini Principles. This paper sets out proposed principles to guide the UK’s national digital twin, and I was relieved by how much emphasis was placed on culture and collaboration, and that the document clearly states a digital twin must represent physical reality at a level of accuracy suited to its purpose. Essentially, do not twin just for the sake of twinning.
    “what’s the actual problem we’re trying to solve?”
    So, nurturing the right culture is critical if we’re going to develop digital twins that add any real value. Finding the “why” for every part of the process, and for every stakeholder, is essential if we want our workforces to collaborate and to trust not only in technology, but in the new procedures that underpin it. That is why the first question when implementing any new digital solution (at any scale) should be, “what’s the actual problem we’re trying to solve?”.
    Unfortunately, this isn’t a question that we’re very good at asking, let alone answering. With procurement methods and forms of contract which enable a culture of blame and passing risk down the supply chain, our sector is damagingly siloed and rife with moral disengagement - a “this isn’t my problem” mentality. But successful digital twins are reliant on, and therefore enforcers of, better information management and increased collaboration and transparency throughout all stages of an asset’s life cycle.
    An example would be a building owner struggling to meet green building targets because of an inefficient heating system. A digital twin which tracks room temperature, along with the times and days each space is in use, can help determine which zones are being heated unnecessarily. A more advanced digital twin could even manage the temperature of the building remotely, based on the knowledge it acquires during operation. However, to really identify the most appropriate solution for the problem, the building owner should also consider whether the heating system is fit for purpose, and the best way to do that is to understand the design, installation and commissioning process for that system. Essentially, they need access to a digital golden thread of information, introduced as a recommendation in the 2018 Dame Judith Hackitt report Building a Safer Future.
    And so, the most basic requirements for the development of a useful digital twin echo the core principles of BIM. If:
    ·        Standard naming (taxonomies), a classification system, and relations (ontologies) have been used
    ·        A structured common data environment has been in place and properly utilised
    ·        Clear and accessible methods of interpreting the information have been established
    throughout the whole life cycle of a project, from planning to operation, then the development of that information into a digital twin will be a much more fluid and lucrative process. Only when we embrace digital as business as usual, will we be setting the right foundations for further digital development.
    So, my advice for anyone sick to the teeth of all of this tech talk would be that digital twins are coming, and they’re coming to solve real problems, but a digital twin is not a “product” you can buy. The best way to prepare your business for the implementation of digital twins is to focus on collecting and analysing data more accurately, making commitments to follow industry naming conventions, classifications, and standards that already exist, and becoming digitally competent at the most basic level. This will provide you with a strong foundation to build upon. Most of all communicate, collaborate, and solve real problems. The rest will follow in time.
     
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    Following the successful webinar / online discussion last month, I have now posted an article version of "Towards a Web of Digital Twins".
    The document summarises the research conducted by the team at the ODI (Open Data Institute) on what it means to connect digital twins and how the concept can scale to a "web" of twins across domains, sectors, and geography.
    The synthesis of our research is also available as an annotated deck, released under an open licence.
     
     
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    The Smart Infrastructure Index© builds upon learning from Project 13, providing a user-friendly way for infrastructure asset owners to measure their digital maturity and benchmark progress against peers. 
    Now, members of the DT Hub will have the opportunity take part in the Smart Infrastructure Index survey designed specifically for the DT Hub. Developed specifically for the built environment and infrastructure industry, the Index provides a holistic view of digital maturity: from customer insights to digital twins; modern methods of construction to whole-life asset management. As the standard measure of digital maturity in the UK built environment, it is used for benchmarking by the Infrastructure Client Group. The survey will open on the 14th July and close on the 31st August with a full report expected in October.
     The Index allows organisations to:
     Understand their digital maturity using a proven methodology   Identify capability gaps and priorities to address in their digital roadmap   Benchmark performance against their peers and learn from the best  The DT Hub and Mott MacDonald Digital Ventures have worked together to bolster the standard Index, adding a new questions set which revolves around digital twins. Together with the original seven categories, the Index now asks questions about:
     Digital Twins Customers  Commercial  Digital transformation  Asset management Asset delivery  Asset performance  Continuous improvement When you complete the survey, the Index will generate a personalised report including your score and targeted recommendations, sent straight to your email inbox after completion. The initial results will look something like this:
     

    Finally, we will aggregate the DT Hub members’ scores and use the insights provided by the Index to produce a report about current digital maturity in our journey towards a national digital twin.
    The index measures the digital maturity of organisations and as members you will shortly receive an invite in your DT Hub inbox inviting you to take part on behalf of your organisation.
    We hope you will join us in this opportunity. If you have not received your email with the link to the survey by the 17th July, please contact enquiries@digitaltwinhub.co.uk.
     
     
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