Welcome to our August editorial!
In this month’s editorial, Justin Anderson, DT Hub Director, and Ryan Goodman, Connected Digital Twins Team Lead, discuss the highlights of the digital twin summit and provide an update on a very busy couple of months for the team.
What was the most memorable part of the summit for you?
Justin: I think having Jesse Norman launch the Transport Digital Twin Roadmap at the event was really significant and what stood out for me was that the Gemini principles were baked into that roadmap. It validates what we’ve been working on, and it’s great to see that it's now sitting there as a policy document for the next 12 or so years. You could sense his enthusiasm for digital twins and I think it was important for him to be looking out at an active community that could help with his plans.
It was also a real achievement that we managed to bring together nearly 1000 people and start to align that community around addressing some of the common challenges that we face such as the skills gap or how to scale up.
Ryan: My highlight was that we were able to demonstrate what is possible with digital twins. Often people get caught up in the conceptualisation of digital twins, so I think being able to showcase practical and tangible examples of what digital twins are and how they can be used was great. At the Catapult, we also have a workspace that can provide a 360 degree immersive experience (Igloo) and we were able to take in groups throughout the day to show how digital twins are being used for the planning and design of for example, the Emirates stadium or the Paris Olympics.
I also agree with Justin around the sense of community and belonging that the summit showcased. It was amazing to have such an international presence, with 53 countries represented, and I think that shows how accessible and inclusive a group it is.
A community is only as strong as the people that support it and contribute to it, so the event would never have been able to reach as many people or had the visibility and gravitas it had without the 27 partner organisations that supported the summit. These big name brands played a pivotal role in the event, making sure it was a success, so we’re really grateful to them.
Justin: It was also an important moment because there's just so many things that we're launching and the event became a focal point for us to announce them. We did a lot of work beforehand on working out a programme that we call the Gemini Alliance, which is essentially a partnership between the DT Hub and education and training providers to tackle the future of digital twin skills. Cranfield is the first provider that we're going to be working with very closely and we announced a new partnership with them to deliver a digital twins skills course.
We want to encourage people to browse our redesigned website – there is so much useful, practical information there including 6 new online learning modules launched at the summit and 8 new case studies that show the value of digital twins in different contexts. The learning modules are designed to help unlock the full value of data in the digital twin ecosystem and they form an important foundation to build on as we continue to address needs within the Gemini papers around the skills and capability gap.
Furthermore, and as part of the Connected Places Podcast series, we launched a new feature focusing on our Community Member’s experience of working within the digital twin ecosystem. For the first feature, we partnered with Royal Haskoning DHV to look at the power of digital twins, and we will continue to release other stories from our Community members as the year progresses.
Ryan: I think the DT Hub has sometimes been perceived as an online community, but this summit showed the importance of coming together as a community to learn and inspire each other. It’s something we definitely want to continue and we already have a date for next year’s event, so please put the 20th June 2024 in your diaries!
Welcome to our May editorial!
In this month’s editorial, Justin Anderson, the Digital Twin Hub’s new Director, discusses his vision and priorities for the Hub in the coming months.
Can you tell us about your journey to the DT Hub?
Since the age of seven, when I first learned to code using punch cards, I've always been intrigued about how machines can help us to do things better, faster and more efficiently.
It’s led to four decades working in the digital and technology world.
I started in California working with Silicon Valley startups and have myself run a technology company for two decades. I then moved to KPMG International where I was Global Head of the Technology Centre of Excellence and responsible for looking at the impact of emerging technologies and digital technologies on clients’ business models and operating models. This was an exciting place to be and provided me with a good understanding of what's coming towards us and the impact of those technologies. I also set up the all-party parliamentary group on artificial intelligence, which has been about debating the economic, environmental and social impacts of AI since 2016.
In some ways, coming into this building feels like coming home as I had an office here eight years ago and have worked across various Catapults, most recently as interim Regional Director for the Digital Catapult.
I am hoping I can use these experiences in a way that can really help impact some of the thorny social and environmental challenges that we face.
What is your priority coming into this role?
My priority is to listen to the voice of the customer, the customer being the digital twin ecosystem, and understand where it currently is - its priorities and experiences. It’s important to me to spend as much time as possible engaging in different discussions across that ecosystem, as well as through the DT Hub Strategic Board, Advisory Board, Community Council, Catapult Councils, Secretariat and Connected Places Catapult itself.
We are also looking to bring people in to help grow this ecosystem across all sorts of different boundaries, whether that's across sectors or disciplines - clearly interdisciplinary expertise is at the heart of it all.
My aim is that the community feels comfortable with me in my stewardship of the DT Hub, representing them and delivering for them.
Why are you passionate about digital twins?
My passion is more about the fact that we've got some serious societal level challenges that need to be solved and digital twins represent a bundle of different technologies that all come together that can help us solve problems.
The technology is there, but it’s how you actually align an ecosystem around a common purpose, built on common principles, with common protocols in order that collectively you amplify the efforts of all the parties and accelerate things. And what I hope to do is to look at all these different paths and find a way of making sure they all line up, head in the same direction and talk to each other. We have to set ourselves around a consensus view of what good looks like going forward.
Are there any events for the diary you want to highlight?
We have the Connected Digital Twin Summit coming up in June, which is the major summit of the year for anybody interested in digital twins. We'll have around 300 people in person and more than 350 joining online. It’s backed by central government, local regional government, as well as some major industry players and academia. It should be a really exciting event and a great opportunity for the community to meet in person. We hope to see you there!
Welcome to our first editorial of 2023!
An update from Ryan Goodman, DT Hub Team Lead
What are some of the highlights from the last couple of months?
We are always looking for opportunities to increase collaboration and cooperation between industries, so a highlight has been launching our Cross Catapult Group. The group is open to each of the nine Catapults, whether it’s high value manufacturing or offshore renewable energy. The aim is to have a representative as part of the group joining a meeting every month to share knowledge and exchange digital twin related case studies. Many of the Catapults are in industries where we see applications of digital twins evolving or emerging and we want the DT Hub to be the central vehicle through which all the relevant news from the Catapults, relating to digital twins, is disseminated.
We’re hoping that it will build greater lines of communication across the Catapults so, for example, enabling overlapping industries or adjacent industries that would benefit from informing data standards or making data more interoperable.
Another highlight was hosting the first in our series of Fireside Chats; we had a virtual 30-minute panel discussion looking into the financial challenges and opportunities that accompany digital twins’ creation and implementation. There were 91 attendees at the event, so a great response and we plan to continue running them at least every quarter. Their focus will differ from Gemini Calls and rather than presenting case studies, the aim is that they spark debate amongst our community and help drive more thought leadership related content around the opportunities to progress connected digital twins.
One other item to flag up is that we are in the process of developing e-learning materials with the Open Data Institute to build digital skills and improve literacy and capability around digital twin thinking. They will not only focus on the technical side but also build up some of the softer skills such as communication related to building a digital twin business case. We really need to progress these skills so we can clearly communicate the value and impact to Businesses and Society from implementing this technology.
Any dates for the diary?
Tuesday 7 March – Register for our Climate Resilience Demonstrator (CReDo) webinar, we'll be looking at cross-sector data sharing and bringing the data together in a way that is scaleable and extensible.
Thursday 9 March – FutureBuild 2023, where we're hosting a panel session with several DT Hub community members, to drive discussions around the future adoption of digital twins.
Thursday 22 June – Save the date for our Digital Twin Showcase event at Connected Places Catapult, London. If you’re not already a member of the DT Hub, sign up here – more information coming very soon!
What exciting digital twin story have you come across recently?
I’ve been reading a really interesting report from McKinsey about how the enterprise metaverse will be powered by dozens of interconnected Digital Twins that replicate everything from physical assets to people to core business processes and often interact with the physical environment without human intervention. There are some great case studies in the report that bring to life what this could look like and the potential efficiencies that would come from this approach.
The report also mentions how quickly the digital twin sector is growing. The research findings have indicated that 70 per cent of C-suite technology executives at large enterprises are exploring and investing in digital twins. This interest, combined with an improvement in supportive technologies, is driving market estimates for digital-twin investments. These investments are set to be more than $48 billion by 2026, which is great news for the digital twin ecosystem.
Welcome to our last editorial of 2022!
An update from Ryan Goodman, Connected Digital Twin (DT Hub) Team Lead
What are some of the highlights from the last couple of months?
It’s been rewarding to see the DT Hub membership continue to grow month to month. We now have more than 3000 active members from a wide variety of sectors and disciplines. We’ve also seen greater engagement from the community in their willingness to share learnings and best practice when applying digital twin technology. We’re regularly seeing more than a hundred people on our Gemini Calls each week, with interesting discussions about relevant opportunities also being mentioned online. One opportunity to highlight is the recently announced funding call from EPSRC looking at leading a digital twinning research hub for decarbonising transport. There is more about this here.
We hosted our latest Strategic Board meeting on the 24 November 2022. This was an opportunity for board members to discuss the four main areas our Working Groups will focus on in the coming months:
Business case and demonstrating value
Open standards and interoperability
Digital skills and capacity building
Governance models and trust: legal agreement, contract, commercial and procurement clauses.
Each of these groups will be led by experts in their field, who will feed back to the board. We’re excited to see where this process takes us: the groups will drive the conversation to help grow the Hub’s membership into new and emerging sectors, beyond the built environment.
The DT Hub also launched its newly formed Advisory Group at an inaugural meeting in early December. The group has been created to help guide the focus of the Working Groups, and spans more than 25 stakeholders, ranging from sustainability managers to legal representatives and technologists. Again, there has been an emphasis on ensuring we have a wide variety of backgrounds to allow us to serve the community in the best possible way. The Advisory Group will be called on to bring external expertise to all aspects of the DT Hub. It will be a crucial knowledge pool as we move forward.
Acting as a convener and drawing these diverse stakeholders from different disciplines to the table is where the CPC can really add value to the DT Hub and is a personal highlight for me.
Any dates for the diary as we approach the New Year?
I don’t think it’s too early to flag up two key events the DT Hub is working towards:
9 March 2023 FutureBuild panel. This session will comprise several DT Hub community members driving discussions around the future adoption of Digital Twins.
22 June 2023 – Connected Digital Twin Showcase event. Save the date, as we will announce more details about this soon.
What exciting digital twin story have you come across recently?
There are two! The first involves a Swedish Metro station that is creating a digital twin, so that the mechanical control panels used by the operators can be replaced with a modern computerised traffic management system. Automating that whole approach through the use of a digital twin would constitute a huge step forward. It’s an exciting case study for us at CPC as we explore rail-related uses for CPC's programme Station Innovation Zone.
The second story comes from the defence sector where Babcock International is building a naval digital twin of a 4.5” gun. They have installed sensors on a frigate’s chilled water equipment – monitoring heat, pressures, fluid flow, ambient data and so on. This takes information directly from a frigate’s machinery control system – around 300 lines of data – to provide a system-level view. The data is then processed to enable scenario testing and failure prediction, thereby informing the appropriate maintenance interventions. It has the potential to vastly improve reliability and performance targets.
A final word?
As we approach the end of the year, I want to thank our community members for their enthusiasm and support for the programme, their willingness to collaborate with one another and the many who give freely and generously of their time. I would also like to extend my thanks to everyone at CPC for their hard work and dedication. We have achieved some important milestones – 3130 members! – and we have the building blocks in place to keep that momentum going.
Welcome to our latest editorial!
Ryan Goodman, Connected Digital Twins Team Lead, updates us on CReDo, the Apollo Protocol and news from the community.
What are some of the highlights from the last couple of months?
Over the summer, the CReDo (Climate Resilience Demonstrator) project put out an invitation to tender for a supplier to help build out the core functionality to support cross-sector data sharing, system-wide impact modelling and decision support for improved climate resilience of connected infrastructure. I’m delighted to announce that we have awarded this to Computational Modelling Cambridge Ltd (CMCL) for its knowledge graph technology. We will continue to work with the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), who will provide crucial data and cyber security expertise, and with several academic organisations, including Newcastle and Warwick universities to work on asset failure modelling. We're also taking part in The Alan Turing Institute’s Synthetic Data Sandpit. It’s exciting seeing the progress towards an integrated infrastructure innovation ecosystem that will ultimately strengthen our climate resilience and adaptation.
CReDo is also a great example of where we’re creating collective buy-in and momentum around connected innovation projects across different infrastructure sectors, supporting local, regional and national opportunity and growth.
So much of connecting digital twins is about collaboration, which is why I’m also keen on highlighting the publication of the Apollo Protocol white paper. It is a collaboration between several leading institutions working with digital twins in the manufacturing, tech and build environments. They make the case for a common strategic language and direction and propose the creation of the Apollo Forum to explore a framework that will enable better communication across sectors for people working on digital twins. I think it’s an invaluable milestone on the journey to accelerating digital twin adoption, as so many of industry’s current challenges require the need to work together. That is only possible if we have a common language. You can follow progress right here in the Apollo Protocol Network on the DT Hub.
Another highlight was September’s Strategic Board meeting. It was an opportunity to cement relationships in person, as well as lay out the agenda for the next quarter. Our main goal was to agree the four themes that would be the foundations of Working Groups within the community. This was following an initial consultation with members of the DT Hub, sharing their perspectives on where time and conversations should be committed to understand how we can contribute towards a more connected future. The four chosen themes were Business case and demonstrating value; Open standards and interoperability; Digital skills and capacity building; Governance models and trust.
Finally, we are looking forward to working with our new Advisory Board, a fantastic group of our community members from across the spectrum of government and industry who will support the Strategic Board and ensure that the community’s voice is heard.
Is there anything we should be looking out for in the next few weeks?
One of the enjoyable aspects of the last couple of months has been meeting more of the community in person. We’ve taken the DT Hub on the road and attended events including the Leeds Digital Festival, and heard about digital twins in the marine science and technology sector at the Society of Maritime Industries event in London. We want to continue having a presence at digital twin events as we see the value in expanding our reach and engagement with other sectors. Look out for us at London Build 2022.
We’re also planning more thought leadership around digital twins in our Gemini Calls. At the moment we focus on digital twin research and case studies and what has been effectively tested and trialled, but we want to build on that with more of a feature focused topic of conversation. For example, looking at what kind of sectors are seeing more uptake in digital twins and what’s driving that? Or where are the commercial opportunities? So looking at some of the broader strokes of what is happening as well as the nitty gritty of individual case studies.
What exciting digital twin story have you come across recently?
I came across this really fascinating story about how researchers at the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine are creating a digital twin that would replace the patient during tests and treatment. They will use wearable digital devices to collect biological, environmental, clinical and behavioural data from patients and then create a model that could be used to test out new treatments before they are tried out on a real life patient. So essentially creating a human digital twin. It has the potential to provide much safer more personalised healthcare for individual patients. It’s incredible to see some of the positive applications digital twins are having outside the built environment and infrastructure that we normally focus on. Read about it here.
Welcome to our August/September editorial!
Tamar Loach, Technology Initiative Director and Ryan Goodman, Connected Digital Twins Team Lead update us on DT Hub partnerships and collaborations. They also welcome the new Strategic Board.
What new partnerships and initiatives is the DT Hub involved in?
Tamar: We’ve got some exciting new partners in the form of our Strategic Board members. It is fantastic to see the start of discussions on connected digital twins between leaders on digital initiatives thinking about our energy systems, our water networks, our roads and our railways – those that think about how all of this comes together to meet people’s needs in cities and places, the digital and connectivity infrastructure that underpins innovations that can support new ways of living and thriving. Hearing the passion coming from this group about the importance of working together and demonstrating what can be achieved using digital twin technologies is just what we need to see. We are excited at the Connected Places Catapult to support the Digital Twin Hub community to showcase credibility building, technically sound examples of digital twins that have supported operational or strategic decisions or processes – that have changed something in the physical world. Please do get in touch if you have a project to showcase, we have multiple ways of supporting you to share your story with more in person events coming soon too. One highlight of the first meeting of the Strategic Board was the sentiment from Davin Crowley-Sweet at National Highways who said, “No journey starts or ends on one of our assets”. We need to work as a team to create digital and data change that has systemic impact.
We also continue to work in partnership with Anglian Water, BT and UK Power Networks to define a next phase for the CReDo project. We are exploring various technical and use case extensions that will really showcase connected digital twins for resilience planning – the value of a focus on strategic use cases rather than 'reactive' or 'responsive' use cases is a theme of recent discussion.
Ryan: One of our main aims is to accelerate greater industry understanding around digital twins nationally, especially in sectors that are underrepresented in terms of application and presence within the Hub's community. Building partnerships in those areas represents a huge opportunity.
We also place high value on the input from our global community. We want to develop those relationships further - for example, by leveraging our collaboration with the Global Digital Transformation programme, formerly known as the UK's International BIM programme. It’s been an invaluable tool that has helped increase the digital maturity of various countries by providing resources and guidance around public procurement and project delivery. One next step will involve highlighting successful international case studies that can inform future UK policies and practices.
Can you tell us about the new Strategic Board and its Chair, Dr Alison Vincent?
Tamar: I’ve already had the pleasure of working with Alison in her capacity as a member of CPC’s board, where she supported the transition of the Digital Twin Hub, CReDo and the International BIM programme from their home at CDBB to a next phase led from CPC. She brings an important perspective from leadership roles at major tech companies and her commitment to listening to diverse voices as we develop cross-sector connected digital twins that are truly innovation and impact driven is exciting. There is lots of discussion to be had from the technical – like how we learn from and use best practice from different technical disciplines like software engineering and on the role of standards – to the collaboration and partnerships we need to get real benefit from application of digital twin technologies.
Ryan: It’s great to have a new Strategic Board to drive us forward, and one that is reflective of our diverse community. I believe there’s enormous opportunity here to foster new collaborations between asset owners and service providers, and to provide us with a valuable pool of knowledge to draw from.
I’m looking forward to working with Alison, who will bring an extraordinary wealth of experience to the DT Hub. As well as working for over 30 years in companies such as Cisco, HSBC and IBM, Alison is a thought leader and specialist on digital strategy and cybersecurity. She is recognised as one of the most influential women in UK tech.
We’ll be looking to her for advice on how we can connect, accelerate, and apply innovative thinking around twins in other national industries. We’ll also be leaning on her expertise in unlocking data from various sectors and joining that information together to produce new insights and opportunities.
So a huge welcome from us all to Alison and the rest of the new Strategic Board!
In our first editorial from the DT Hub’s new home at Connected Places Catapult, Tamar Loach, Technology Initiative Director and Ryan Goodman, Connected Digital Twins Team Lead, discuss their vision, their new roles and their priorities for the Digital Twin Hub in the coming months.
Can you tell us about your journey to the DT Hub and what your new role will focus on?
Tamar: I've got a technical background as a data scientist and have led data science and software engineering teams in the past, mainly working in tech start-ups. They’ve included everything from ten people together in a tiny room through to significantly funded scale-ups that are starting to grow out from the UK internationally – all focused on data, machine learning and AI and applying scientific methodology to impactful problems.
In my role as Technology Initiative Director at CPC, my priority is on setting up strategic innovation programmes, so setting up new collaborative initiatives that support UK companies to grow in the connected places realm. I think the Catapult is a great home for the DT Hub as we will be focused on encouraging further collaboration between different companies that may not currently work together, bringing in new approaches and thinking from academia and also connecting into policy development.
Ryan: My background is largely in open innovation approaches. I previously worked for the Open Data Institute, where my role was leading on EU open innovation programmes to support SMEs in maximising the use of open and shared data. Within that context, I supported a few suppliers of digital twin technology, to address challenges with predictive maintenance by using shared data. I came to Connected Places about a year and a half ago in the urban technology team, where my role was a Living Labs and Testbed Manager. My primary focus has been to help SMEs to demonstrate and validate their products and services by understanding how they operate and perform in real-world scenarios.
Now my remit is looking at the operational opportunities the DT Hub offers, not only from a community perspective, I'm also keen to look at how we as an organisation can support the community to either design, develop and test real-world applications of digital twins.
Tamar: And that is an area where the Catapult had already joined up with the Centre for Digital Built Britain on the CReDo (climate resilience demonstrator) project, as delivery partners. That was very much about testing theory in real-world applications and has been very successful – the foundation to us working with the DT Hub.
Why are you passionate about digital twins? Why do they matter?
Tamar: I think of “digital twin” as a collection of technologies coming together to tackle real challenges – we draw on innovations in networked sensors, data engineering and modelling, cloud compute, machine learning and AI as well as software engineering best practice and scientific modelling to represent physical systems digitally and then use these systems to test and trial in the digital world before implementing. This approach, particularly in the world of transport and across the built environment, for cities and towns, for utilities like power and water – is a huge opportunity because it allows us to make the best changes and the best decisions in a complex setting: digital twins can help us take a system of systems view, taking advantage of often disparate or unconnected digitalisation of our places. Connected thinking, and following best practice around interoperability – what we might call “connected digital twins” are key to our ability to take advantage of the digital and data transformations that are technically speaking easy to implement today with the right leadership, funding and skills in place. We need to see an acceleration in digital and data maturity and for me that's a huge opportunity – I'd like the digital twin hub to be at the heart of driving challenge-led, impact-focused digitalisation tackling some major priorities, like creating fully integrated transport systems and climate-resilient utilities for our growing population.
I think this is where the DT Hub can make a real difference in building momentum and supporting sectors that haven’t yet reached digital maturity. We can act as a practical resource to help them get there. It’s why I'm also excited about the DT Hub Strategic Board that we'll be announcing shortly. It’s a great combination of organisations coming together – from infrastructure asset owners to technology suppliers and academia, together galvanising and using the strength of that group to drive the DT Hub and its community forward.
Ryan: I agree with Tamar that there are exciting opportunities to derive insights from data that can massively impact people’s everyday lives and enable us to make more informed decisions. As a neutral convener, Connected Places wants to increase our impact and value to society by improving digital maturity. We see the community that supports the DT hub as a key enabler in promoting the wider adoption of digital twins. By helping to improve understanding and capability in digital technologies, we aim to unearth new use cases where the application of this approach can be tested and demonstrated.
This is a fresh start – what is your vision for the DT Hub?
Ryan: I feel our role is to support higher risk projects and help trial and test some of those so that we can contribute to the conversations that are taking place in the community. By taking this approach we can help share learnings on best practice deliver work where other organisations might not necessarily have the time, resources or capacity to do so. The Catapult is becoming more of a thought leader within the space, so that we can effectively steward the DT Hub.
Tamar: I think that’s an important point about taking on some of the risk as we know that can be a real barrier to organisations on their digital twin journeys. So, it means we’re working on projects that test, trial and showcase, we can be very agile and can change direction if things aren’t working and share that learning. The idea is to fail fast, learn fast and help others to do that. I think that will be enabled by lots of collaborative research and development. And we actively want to join in with the community to collaborate in that context – we have such fantastic teams that can support in that process from human connected design experts to data scientists, city planners to transport modellers – and it’s our job to take learnings and share with others.
NDTp March 2022 editorial – New horizons
Interview with Tom Hughes and Peter El Hajj
As the DT Hub begins its transition to the Connected Places Catapult (CPC), @Tom HughesDT Hub Lead, and @Peter El HajjNDTp Programme Lead, provide an update on all the latest activities and discuss what’s next for the DT Hub. They also reflect on the programme’s achievements over the past three years and their personal highlights.
What can we be looking out for in the next few weeks?
Tom: On the DT Hub side, we are focusing on the completion of our Annual Benchmark report which is a retrospective look at the past 12 months and what we have achieved, as well as setting the stage for what’s next. Simon Evans, Digital Energy Lead at Arup, led a community workshop to ensure that we have input from our members and it’s always invaluable to have that community contribution.
The other big area of focus is the publication of the Digital Twin Roadblocks report. It brings together our findings from a series of workshops on digital twin blockers and provides ideas on how to address them.
We’ve also got a series of Hub Insight interviews, with Ali Nichols – one of the Co-Chairs of the DT Hub Community Council – kicking us off, and finishing with Mark Enzer, Director of CDBB. So, plenty still happening!
Peter: I also want to highlight some key documents coming out as part of the Information Management Framework: Managing Shared Data, Towards Information Management Maturity, Thin-Slice Approach and Information Quality Basics. We’re had a great presentation by Ian Bailey on the Integration Architecture at a recent Gemini call. And one last thing to look out for will be our Theory of Change’ and ‘Benefits Realisation Framework’ reports – both are really important for the programme.
Who will be hosting the DT Hub going forward?
Peter: Some really great news on that front is that the DT Hub will transition from its current home at the CDBB to an Industry/Catapult partnership housed at the Connected Places Catapult (CPC). CPC and the wider Catapult Network have been involved from the early days on the programme and shaped a lot of our thinking and been big supporters throughout.
Tom: It’s fantastic that CPC have taken on the role of host to the DT Hub. It’s so valuable to have the voice of industry which we have had through the process. Alongside Connected Places there is also the wider network of catapults: Energy Systems Catapult, Advanced Manufacturing Catapult, and the Digital Catapult – I probably couldn’t think of a better host and group of stakeholders for the Hub to flourish.
What do you think have been the biggest achievements of the NDTp?
Peter: I think one of them is definitely creating this momentum that is focused on outcomes rather than building a new technology. I think shifting the focus from making it a technical issue to making it a socio-technical programme that requires collaboration - that is a key achievement. I also think it’s been the identification of the requirements at a national level to enable effective information management and an ecosystem of connected digital twins. So, answering the question: ‘what are the components to that?’ We didn’t know this three years ago, but now we have a much more comprehensive idea.
Tom: Yes, then the DT Hub was a line item on the roadmap for the National Digital Twin and the opportunity to work with six founding member organisations. We have seen it develop and grow to become a community that is connecting regularly with thousands of organisations. It’s been really exciting to be a part of. It is knowing the knowledge sharing that takes place and watching people support each other that are the real milestones for the community platform. We’re taking more of an enabling role as people share posts and add to discussions that are important to them. That’s a huge thing.
Peter: I also think it’s that the DT Hub has become the place where national and international initiatives can come to connect, and those outputs shared. And I am aware of other countries setting up digital centres following the DT Hub model – it’s great that we offer a blueprint for others to use.
What has been a personal highlight?
Peter: I received an award on behalf of CDBB at the Royal Society and later found out it was the same award that Tim Berners-Lee had received! Although it wasn’t personal as such – I was collecting it for CDBB, it still felt like a special moment.
Tom: There are a few! One of them was when we did held our open day and I think being able to step back and present all the projects we had worked on really brought home all that we had achieved.
Peter: It was also at that open day that the member numbers of the DT Hub went over 3,000 which felt really significant.
Tom: Another highlight was our Christmas get together in 2019. It was so nice to meet with such a fantastic group of clever, passionate people. And it was the same whenever we got together, whether with the Hub team, or a steering group, or the digital framework task group, every time it was such an enjoyable event.
Peter: Absolutely, working with such a great bunch of people has been a highlight and as we look forward to our next phase we want to thank everyone for all their hard work.
Tom: And likewise, a huge thank you from me.
We may be drawing to the close of the current iteration of the NDTp, but there is still plenty of exciting and important work happening. It is encouraging to see just how hard everyone is working to ‘finish well’ and ensure that all the learnings and progress we have made is packaged into a useful blueprint for others to use.
Some highlights to share:
The DT Hub Community Council
One of the goals we set for the DT Hub was for the community to lead the development and strategy going forward. An important milestone on that journey has been the start of a Community Council, supported by a network of Community Champions. What struck me about the process of establishing the Council was the amount of feedback and applications we received from interested Hub members. It showed a level of enthusiasm and commitment that is very encouraging for the next stage of the DT Hub.
We now have 12 motivated community representatives across different types of organisations, sizes and locations. Our first Council meeting was held at the end of January, joined by members from Australia and Sweden, as well as the UK. It was a great first meeting, and clear that there is a real desire to keep the momentum of the DT Hub going and to continue the ethos of sharing and collaboration. And I’m delighted to say that we will have @Melissa Zanocco @Ali Nicholl as Co-chairs.
Progress on CReDo
When CReDo was launched, alongside the CReDo film and demonstrator app, there were a wide range of publications that wrote about the story. What has been interesting to me is that long after the event, the project is still very much being referenced by journalists and key organisations. People are continuing to follow the progress and keep abreast of all the latest insights from the project.
It has moved the conversation forward on collaboration through connected digital twins, by delivering a tangible example that demonstrates the benefit to our everyday lives. It is being discussed and recognised as something important for critical infrastructure and also for governments. One of the key partners on the project, BT, highlighted the benefits of this work and digitalisation for BT.
Over the coming weeks the team are putting together both technical and non-technical reports on CReDo to capture the lessons learned, what we could have done better, what we will do better going forward and recommendations for others.
The team is planning a webinar on 2nd March 2022 to show how the climate resilience model has been realised using synthetic data sets. The event will be a talk-through of project methodologies and findings, insights and next steps. We’ve already had over 500 sign-ups and it’s great to see so much interest. Please sign up to take part.
Smart Infrastructure Index results
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.
There were 57 responses to the 2021 Index, up from 21 in 2020. Whereas in 2020 these responses came exclusively from asset owners / operators, in 2021 the survey was sent to the wider DT Hub community. While this increased the reach of the survey, it also influenced the scoring.
The overall digital maturity score for the DT Hub community was 37.3 in 2020 and it decreased to 33.6 in 2021. When looking at scores for asset owners / operators only, this decrease in digital maturity score was still evident, however, it was far less significant, with average score of 37.1 in 2021. For a further breakdown of the results please go to the report: results of the 2021 Index.
Launching CReDo during the COP26 climate conference was one of the highlights of the year for all of us at the NDTp. Over 200 people joined us for the launch webinar, where we showcased the CReDo film, shared the interactive demonstrator app and heard for the first time from CReDo’s technical architect, @Tom Collingwood.
It felt like a huge milestone to be able to actually demonstrate in a tangible way the kind of dramatic impact that connected digital twins can have and why collaboration is essential. It was encouraging to see how much engagement there was from the audience. We also received a lot of unsolicited, supportive feedback from government and other organisations, recognising how important this work is. One of the main things we’ve taken away from the event is that our message of collaboration is resonating.
CReDo has already led to new engagements, such as an invite to speak to the UK Regulators Network, so it has also provided a useful launchpad to bring us to the attention of other communities who are interested in getting involved.
A next step is to complete an assessment of what the benefits of CReDO have been for the asset owners. We will then discuss these and other lessons learned in an event in March. Please look out for more details on the DT Hub coming soon.
The Gemini papers are a project we kicked off during November in partnership with Arup, who are helping draft the content. The aim of the papers is to be the prospective legacy of the CDBB. They will take all the learnings from the last 3 years of delivery on the National Digital Twin programme and other CDBB programme and consolidate them. It will provide a clear vision and guide on what a National Digital Twin should look like in the future and, importantly, how to get there. The idea is for it be timeless and as relevant in 10 years as it is today.
Theory of Change – Benefits realisation framework
Another project we started in November, with Mott Macdonald, is answering the question, how do you change an industry? This work will explore the mechanisms of change in the NDTp and consolidate earlier work on the change management approach (the intended change), how change was observed over the recent years (the observed change) and describe the most appropriate Theory of Change for the NDTp. It will map previous and current NDTp activities to the ToC and help track benefits going forward.
There is a continued need to discuss the ethics of using digital twins. To address this we’ve been undertaking a round of workshops, facilitated by Sopra Steria, to delve more deeply in to the Gemini Principles and issues such as trust or geospatial data and inference risk, to name a few. The outputs from the report were published on the DT Hub in conjunction with Tech UK’s Digital Ethics Summit on December 8th.
Before I sign off, I want to say a big thank you to @Samuel A Chorltonfor his leadership of the DT Hub. He has been involved from the very start and set the tone for the DT Hub team, building a collaborative, positive ethos. He has remained passionate about the project throughout and led us to where we are today with over 3,000 members. He’s been great to work with and we wish him all the best in his next adventure into fatherhood! I am pleased to say that he will still be staying on as an advisor.
Continuity through change
I have recently passed the mark of having led the Digital Twin Hub for 2 years from its point of inception to passing its 3000-member point. It has been a hugely exciting and rewarding endeavour one of which I have been hugely passionate about and had the privilege to learn from a huge amount from. Digital Twins are crucial to a sustainable and prosperous future and the Digital Twin hub has provided a forum for a community to centralise to support this aim. What is clear is the huge value in the community and the real enthusiasm there is to see this area develop further. Just as when we started, we still maintain the mantra of progressing through sharing and succeeding together. Today, however marks a change in the guard as I look to step back from leading the digital twin hub as my own family looks to grow.
To ensure continuity, I am passing the baton as DT Hub Chair to Tom Hughes, who will be taking over from me in mid-November. Tom has been invaluable as our DT Hub Delivery Lead and an integral part of getting us to where we are. As a subject matter expert in this space, he has been able to accurately understand and represent the perspectives of the community. He’s also very technically focused which has been crucial in terms of progressing the Hub as a technical platform. He’s very well placed to provide a good perspective on how we progress in this next stage of the DT Hub. I asked him what his priorities were coming in to this new role:
“I am proud of the achievements that we have made over the last two years; connecting people, enabling the sharing of knowledge and continual improvement of the DT Hub platform itself. These continue as my core priorities, and I hope to enable the DT Hub community to flourish.”
A very welcome new addition to the team is Claire Dowdall, our Community Manager who has a wealth of experience running online communities. She is already busy embedding herself in the community and is here to support members, encourage collaboration and provide an excellent experience for everyone. Do contact her with any questions or suggestions or just to introduce yourself as she would love to hear from you.
Digital twin roadblocks
We hosted the first of our workshops drilling down in to some of the main challenges in digital twin adoption. Participants generated 105 roadblocks in total, demonstrating the real need there is for collaboration on solving these issues. These were further narrowed down in to 5 main roadblocks:
Governance and guidance
Vision and value
Need and want
There was plenty of discussion both in the workshop and on the DT Hub discussion thread afterwards and it’s not too late to chime in with your own experience and add anything you feel is missing. The next workshops will focus on prioritising these challenges and looking at how as a community we can solve them.
Smart Infrastructure Index
For the second year running we’ve just launched this extremely useful tool for DT Hub members to measure their digital maturity and benchmark progress against peers. It takes just 15 minutes to complete and you will receive an instant personalised report including a score and targeted recommendations. If you haven’t already, now is the chance to Start your Smart Infrastructure Index assessment here.
A goodbye from me
It is on this note that I wish to express my sincere thanks to both the team at the National Digital Twin Programme and the community in enabling and allowing me to support this initiative. It’s been my absolute privilege to be involved in a project that has such potential to deliver huge value. When I think of where we were when we started to where we are today it is quite amazing. I have particularly enjoyed taking part in all of the conferences, talks and events we have been able to deliver over the last two years and seeing it surpass its 3000th member was something I didn't imagine to see so soon.
It has been fantastic to be part of progressing something I have genuinely believed in and working alongside some incredible people. It’s a great team and special thanks go to @Alexandra Robasto who has really been the lynch pin that has held the hub together.
Bringing CreDo to life
With COP26 on the horizon, we are fully immersed in preparing to showcase the Climate Resilience Demonstrator - CReDo. We have appointed two partners to help us communicate the story in an engaging and inspiring way and demonstrate the huge potential of information sharing.
Firstly, we are working with Crocodile Media to develop a short, dramatic film that will tell the story of a flooding event and how connected digital twins may provide a better response to climate disasters. The second partnership is with ESRI, a provider of online maps and 3D models of cities, who are developing an interactive demonstrator that will allow the public to test out various scenarios on a made-up city. The purpose of both will be to demonstrate how information sharing across organisational boundaries is a key enabler to improving resilience of infrastructure systems.
We have organised an event “Increasing our climate resilience through connected digital twins” on the 2nd of Nov to watch the film, see the interactive tool in action and find out more about how connected digital twins can help to tackle climate change.
We’re delighted that the project doesn’t end with COP26 – instead, the technical development of CReDo will continue until next year and will be delivered through a collaboration of research centres and industry partners; The Universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Exeter, Newcastle and Warwick will work alongside the Hartree Centre, DAFNI, Science and Technology Facilities Council, CMCL Innovations, the Joint Centre of Excellence in Environmental Intelligence, CPNI and Mott MacDonald.
We are also delighted to be working in partnership with three major UK utility providers; Anglian Water, BT and UK Power Networks who are equally committed to making bold steps towards resilient infrastructure.
Progress on IMF’s seven circles
We have been moving forward with all seven circles of the Information Management Framework from top level ontologies, to integration architecture to information quality management.
One document I particularly want to highlight is ‘Managing Shared Data’, an exciting piece of work being developed by @Matthew West, Technical Lead for the NDTp. He is bringing together the lessons we’ve learned over the past three years since publication of the Pathway toward an IMF report and providing clarity on what it means for organisations to manage information effectively, an essential enabler for connecting digital twin. It is in development and we’re hoping to release the final document by the end of the year.
There are three main activities to highlight for October:
DT Hub website update. We’re keen to keep improving the useability and layout of the site so the new version of the DT Hub will include a public facing page, with all the resources to make it easier to access public documents. It also includes a page to host all information related to CReDo.
DT Roadblocks workshop series. As the community progresses on their digital twin journeys, it is inevitable there will be a myriad of challenges. The great aspect of being part of a community is that there are others who have faced similar challenges and can share their learnings or provide insights in to how to overcome your particular hurdle. Our first workshop is aptly named, “Problems shared, problems halved”. If you would like to be part of a constructive discussion, do sign up to this series, running until the end of the year.
Smart Infrastructure Index. We have just launched our latest SII survey to enable members to measure their digital maturity and benchmark progress against peers. When members complete and submit the survey, the SII will generate a personalised report including a score and targeted recommendations. The idea is that it enables users to identify areas for improvement and to support the prioritisation of future activities. The survey is open until mid-November and can be accessed here.
The summer was marked by our milestone event, the Cyber-Physical Fabric Summit, which took place on July 19th. It was a huge success with more than 800 people registered, and close to 400 people on the live calls and a series of insightful roundtable discussions. There was a live Zoom chat running in parallel to the summit, with the comments every bit as engaging as the content. Each roundtable had a further thread on the DT Hub to ensure that others could catch up on the discussion.
The summit was not only useful in terms of pooling knowledge and ideas, but in creating movement towards the shared goal of developing an ecosystem of interconnected smart machines and digital twins. It left me feeling energized to hear from others who are equally excited about this journey and to have a cross section of academia, government and industry take part. The main takeaways for me were:
The need for boundary spanning leadership. Our speakers underlined the importance of taking an interconnected and collaborative approach to working across sectors, industries and organisations. I liked the analogy of an octopus – something that joins the intelligent tentacles and makes them work together.
Deep socio. In the same way that we have ‘deep tech’, there was a lot of discussion around ‘deep socio’ and ensuring the social side of creating our cyber physical fabric has equal weight to the tech side. There is a real need to address issues around ethics, privacy and commercial and regulatory requirements.
Creating and adopting in tandem. It was great to see so much consensus around the importance of adoption. We need to constantly be implementing the latest research, so we can test and refine as we go along.
Living labs. There was discussion around how we need to keep testing what we’ve created to really see what is working and what isn’t and what the impact is on real people. There’s a really interesting example taking place at MIT where their Living Labs programme is developing a scalable data management platform, allowing them to collect and integrate multiple types of data including: personal data or “small data” (collected by smart phones, activity tracking devices, or new wearable sensors); MIT data (wifi data, campus maps, event data etc); as well as external data types (social media data, transportation data, weather, city data etc). A further example worth following is the Smart Mobility Living Lab London where they are using smart mobility living as a test-bed for data innovation.
We continue to grow fast and have crossed the 2,000 member mark. We now have members from more than 1,000 individual organisations across 60 different countries. There has also been an increase in participation with many more new postings and threads being generated by our members. Do log on to add to the discussions! Also look out for our Flex 260 Standards, which opens for public consultation. Again we really value your feedback.
As we grow, so does our need for additional staff and I’m delighted to welcome two great additions to the team: @Kirsten Lamband @Catherine Condie. Both come with a wealth of experience and will be driving our communications and engagement activities across the programme.
CReDo, the Climate Resilience Demonstrator, is a climate change adaptation digital twin demonstrator project to improve resilience across infrastructure systems. We launched a new DTHub page for CReDo where we will be sharing progress and the benefits of cross sectoral information sharing to improve climate resilience across infrastructure.
We are exploring examples of interdependencies map for infrastructure systems. Check out this thread and share any thoughts you might have.
An important part of our Credo programme is communicating the technology and research to a diverse audience in an inspiring way. We have tenders out to create a video and would be grateful if you could circulate the following with your network
It’s really rewarding to see the sustained growth we have managed to achieve over the past year. Every day when I log in to the DT Hub there is a new post, additional members, or an enquiry from a different part of the world. It’s exciting to think of the potential – if we have got to this point in just 12 months, then hopefully, in the near future, we will have hundreds of people logging on every day, from different sectors around the world, together furthering our understanding of connected digital twins.
A multi-sectoral centre
We believe the DT Hub is uniquely placed to bring together the best thinking and best ideas from all sectors, and people from all levels within those sectors, to discuss connected digital twins. With that goal in mind, we are broadening the Hub from focusing solely on the built environment into other sectors, starting with manufacturing, energy and defence.
Although digital twins vary across sectors there is a huge amount we can learn from one another. For example, there is a lot of activity in the application of digital twins in advanced manufacturing. Although the replication of aircraft engines is a very different beast to the built environment, there is knowledge they have accumulated that lends itself to the built environment and vice versa. There will inevitably be conversations that are sector specific, but as facilitators we will ensure that we find similarities or useful learnings that can be shared.
To make it easier to contribute to the conversation and share information, we will be refreshing the DT Hub website in tandem with our expansion. We want to improve the useability of the platform to make it more conducive to discussion.
The next step is for people to then add to that discussion! We’ve already seen some interesting threads, but would like to encourage others to jump in. Real value and progress comes from a broad spectrum of perspectives and we really appreciate any question, insight or piece of feedback.
An international centre
Not only do we want the DT Hub to be the home of digital twins across sectors, but across borders too. The progress we’ve made gives us a great opportunity to lead internationally and become a central Hub for others to gather. There is already a lot of exploratory work going on in countries such as Australia and New Zealand who have been looking to the DT Hub as a template to build their own communities of interested people.
The DT Hub can then act as host to these different communities and drive progress through our combined passion to see knowledge and learning shared in an inclusive way.
DT Hub to host Cyber-Physical Fabric Summit
An important event on our calendar that I want to flag is the Cyber-Physical Fabric Summit on 19 July 2021 from 10:00 – 16:00. This online summit will explore the power of federated digital twins and cyber-physical infrastructure at a national scale, and is supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering, BEIS, UKRI, GoScience, Alan Turing Institute, Centre for Digital Built Britain and Robotics Growth Partnership.
The day will start with an introduction laying out the opportunities and challenges we face as a nation and as a planet. This will be followed by 4 expert-led panels, each with a Q&A session. The first is chaired by Paul Clarke CBE on the cyber physical fabric; followed by a panel on data and technical interoperability chaired by Professor Dame Wendy Hall; after lunch, Professor David Lane CBE will chair a panel on research; followed by a panel on adoption chaired by Mark Enzer OBE . The four panel chairs will convene a final plenary session.
To register for this event, please follow this link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/158710951729
We hope to see you there!
May was a particularly encouraging month for all of us on the National Digital Twin programme, as we received continued Government support and with it, a clear validation of the progress we have made. At a time when the government is facing multiple challenges and demands on finances, it is heartening that they have recognised the value of the programme.
It has enabled us to fine-tune our planning and I’m excited to highlight three key projects we’ll be focusing on this year.
1. Climate Resilience Demonstrator (CReDo)
The National Digital Twin Climate Resilience Demonstrator, or CReDo, is a very exciting project for the NDTp this year. The purpose of CReDo is to provide a tangible working example of the National Digital Twin - a 'thin slice' of the envisaged ecosystem of connected digital twins. It is intended to demonstrate meaningful secure, resilient information sharing across organisational and sectoral boundaries in the domain of climate resilience for the water, energy and telecoms sectors.
CReDo will integrate data between energy, water and telecoms networks to improve climate resilience decision-making across infrastructure systems. It will look specifically at the impact of extreme weather, in particular flooding, on energy, water and telecoms networks and how those who own and operate them can plan to mitigate the effect of flooding on network performance and service delivery to customers. CReDo will be one of the first climate change adaptation cross-organisational systems which show how greater access to the right information can help to manage the impact of climate change.
CReDo will be delivered by a collaboration between leading asset owners, domain experts and UK research centres, funded by Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Connected Places Catapult and the University of Cambridge.
CReDo is also a unique learning opportunity and we are as excited by what we will learn from the implementation of CReDo. We are already learning from setting up the data sharing arrangements and security controls for cross organisational data sharing. We intend to provide regular updates and learnings here on the DT Hub and on the Gemini Call.
2. Information Management Framework (IMF)
We will continue to develop the IMF, the foundation that enable the National Digital Twin - an ecosystem of connected digital twins. A key focus for the IMF team will be working closely on the CReDo project, to test the IMF approach for cross-organisational and sectoral data sharing and to learn from the implementation of CReDo to inform the development of the IMF.
The NDTp technical team presented last year's outputs and the plans for the current year at an event in collaboration with the Newton Gateway to Mathematics: 4-Dimensionalism in Large Scale Data Sharing and Integration (recordings and slides included).
3. Digital Twin Hub
We will continue developing the DT Hub as the knowledge centre of the NTDp and the go-to place to find information on connected digital twins. We will also continue to grow the community and start to involve sectors beyond the built environment for example with the advanced manufacturing community. They are making transformational leaps forward in their use of digital twins and we’re looking forward to welcoming them to the community.
In addition to the three key projects, we have additional support from the University of Cambridge to support additional activities which we will share more on in the coming months.
So, there is plenty to keep us busy! There’s also a real sense of momentum as we move forward and grow, and an appreciation for the multiple entities supporting the NDTp. I think CReDo offers us a unique opportunity and I’m really looking forward to working with the new partners we will be collaborating with. As ever, we will keep you updated and are grateful for any feedback.
It’s always an exciting moment for me when I see the latest DT Hub community membership numbers. The Hub is a critical part of the National Digital Twin Programme, so I find it encouraging to see membership numbers continually ticking upwards. In my last editorial, I was looking ahead to the 1,000 member landmark, but in the three months since we have actually exceeded 1,500 members.
Since opening up to international membership in February, the DT Hub now has more than 800 distinct organisations, from 60 different countries. There has been a lot of interest from the US, Australia, New Zealand and Europe, but also from further afield, such as South Korea, Brazil and Lebanon!
Through these international connections we’re gaining a better insight in to what is happening in the digital twin space elsewhere. For example, we are connected with the Smart City’s Council Hub in both Australia and New Zealand and now talk to them on a monthly basis. We’re keen on collaborating with other international initiative moving forward and other organisations that share our philosophy of data for the public good.
Other activities I would like to highlight are:
Release of the Digital Twin Toolkit. Developed by the community for the community, the toolkit was released in February in a joint event with TechUK, who released their report: ‘Unlocking Value Across the UK’s Digital Twin Ecosystem’. The toolkit is a practical guide that walks users through the various steps in building a digital twin and provides a business case template and various case studies. It can be freely accessed on the DT Hub by registered members. You can download the DT Toolkit on this link.
Summary of IMF Consultation. Last May, the NDTp published our proposed ‘Pathway towards an Information Management Framework’, followed by an open consultation feedback process. We’re really grateful for all the responses we received and together they have given us a clear direction of travel. The summary will contribute to refine the Pathway document that will refocus efforts in light of what has been learnt. You can view the summary via this link.
Progress towards IMF technical foundations. There are three main components to the technical core of the IMF: a Foundation Data Model, a Reference Data Library, and an Integration Architecture. The pragmatic and technical requirements for the Foundation Data Model have now been developed and there are four Top-Level Ontologies that meet all the technical requirements: BORO, IDEAS, HQDM and ISO 15926-2. They are distinct from the other reviewed Top-Level Ontologies in that they allow us to see individual objects as four-dimensional, having both spatial and temporal parts. You can view the latest publication on the recommended approach to develop the Foundation Data Model via this link.
Skills and Competency Framework report. In partnership with the Construction Innovation Hub, the NDTp has released a Skills and Competency Framework to help individuals, organisations and training bodies to understand the skills and competencies needed to support the goal of a National Digital Twin. This new resource will help the industry assess any gaps in skills, while setting out a learning pathway for people involved in developing and implementing the IMF and digital twins. The development of people and skills is a crucial part of the process, but even more important is that organisations undergo a cultural shift towards data quality. They need to care for data in the same way they would a physical asset. We hope that when data is seen as a precious asset, then the investment in the skills and careers needed to support it will be prioritised
New Gemini Case Study: Infrastructure Mapping Application for London. Built from a prototype in 2015, the IMA 2.0 is an innovative, versatile tool to support improved planning, delivery, and coordination of London’s infrastructure through the layering of data and visualisation technologies. It includes both a publicly accessible site and a password-protected site for more sensitive data sharing. It provides a really clear example of the Gemini Principles in practice. It is open, insightful and secure and has created cost savings, as well as mitigating transport disruption. It has evolved in to an essential component of the Infrastructure Coordination Service (ICS), providing valuable data for the ICS and wider users.
As I go through the process of highlighting all these various projects, it is a reminder of the progress we’ve made, none of which would have been possible without the huge support we’ve received from academia, industry and Government. So I want to extend my thanks for all your encouragement and feedback, as well as for sharing our desire to work together for the public good.
When the DT Hub was launched, our aim was to underpin all the content, discussion and collaboration with a sense of inclusivity. A year on, that goal very much remains - our feeling is that the more diverse perspectives we can bring into the community, the better. We want everyone to feel comfortable adding to the conversation, whatever their background and wherever they are on their digital twin journey. We hope that everyone feels that there is no question too simple or too complex to put forward.
With that in mind, it is wonderful to see the community widening and in February we welcomed international members. In just 3 weeks we had 350 new members join, a 35% increase in our overall membership numbers. It demonstrated again the appetite that exists for being part of a collaborative community. It also paves the way for connecting infrastructure beyond our national borders. Even if digital twins across countries might not be possible for another 10 or 20 years, bringing people into the conversation as early as possible maximises the chance of success.
Connecting Academia and Industry
In February, we also launched the Research Register to encourage greater collaboration between academia and industry. We’re aware that industry aren’t always clear about what is happening in research, or how to engage with them and that research isn’t always as surfaced as it should be. Having a central place for the research to be shared will go a long way to addressing this.
There is benefit for academics too as they often struggle to get real-life scenarios to trial their research against. We hope that this can be a place where they connect with industry partners to help them as they measure applicability and impact.
A real highlight for me over the last couple of months has been hosting our first few Hub Insights interviews. It has been fascinating to hear what some of our members are up to in the digital twin space, but also to capture the kind of interactions we would normally be having outside the virtual world – a chance to ask a bit about who they are and their journey to where they are now.
The shared take-away from all the interviews is that they are deeply passionate about unlocking the value of digital twins. Working for the public good is a huge motivation and Alexandra Bolton, Executive Director for CDBB, summed it up well in our first interview, “If we can connect data and use it better, we can find the right answers to some of the biggest questions and make a real difference to the lives of future generations.”
Coming up in March
As we reach our one year anniversary, we will be taking stock in our first annual benchmark report, to be released this month. It’s an opportunity for us to share the progress and learnings we have made as we’ve grown from a community of 10 members to over 1,200. It’s also a chance to define a set of objectives and recommendations for 2021, based on careful reflection.
We will also continue with our Hub Insights series. On March 16th at 11:30 I will be interviewing May Winfield from BuroHappold Engineering and Peter Van Manen from Frazer-Nash Consultancy. They were both a part of the toolkit team which developed the Digital Twin Toolkit. Please register now to join us.
An ongoing focus for March and the rest of the year is establishing a community council which will help transition the DT Hub into more of a community-led group. We’re hoping they can help build connections and drive conversations.
As a result of some of the conversations we’ve already had on the Hub, we are now ready to commence on the first standards in the built environment for digital twins. It’s really through the feedback and insights of the community that projects like this are coming to fruition and the final report is due in May.
To keep posted on all the above please check in regularly on the DT Hub website as well as on our social media channels: Twitter - @CambridgeCDBB and LinkedIn – Digital Twin Hub.
As we head in to a new year, it’s exciting to see both industry and government recognise and support the work that is being done around a National Digital Twin.
An important boost came at the end of 2020 with the publication of the Government’s National Infrastructure Strategy. It unveiled plans for a ‘radical improvement’ in the quality of infrastructure and included support for the adoption of the Information Management Framework and the National Digital Twin. It’s an encouraging sign of the Government's ongoing support to the programme.
Further support came from HS1, who are on track to revolutionise the railway industry by developing a 5G Augmented Reality Digital Twin Project. They plan to virtually replicate rail assets on the HS1 line by 2021. The technology will monitor the real-time performance of rail assets and allow for the swift detection and repair of faults. It will act as a clear example to others of the many benefits of digital twins and we’re delighted to have them team up with the NDTp, to share their insights and experience.
The power of collaboration
In our latest case study, we showcase the success of the ‘Colouring London’ project. The platform is a model for open databases on urban building stocks, and is specifically designed to provide data to support other building related digital twins, for example 4D procedural models of cities.
The site has already received 4.17 million edits, an incredible 200,000 of which have been made directly by individual contributors – the remainder have been made by automated processes. It is a great example of collaboration between various bodies and demonstrates how sharing knowledge and data can have such a positive impact on the sustainability of our cities.
Colouring London pre-dates the creation of the Gemini Principles though the team have welcomed them as a valuable tool in describing their work. The platform’s clear purpose of serving the public good, it’s openness, quality and functionality offers a model to others also aiming to adhere to the Gemini principles.
Other activities I would like to highlight are:
DT Hub Progress. We now have 970 members and expect to reach 1000 by the end of the month. The update to the website has also been completed and we’ve had positive feedback on the improved accessibility of information. It is great to see more community generated content, in addition to other resources, such as the 49 articles and publications available. I’m particularly pleased to see 12 data sources listed next to the ‘share the data’ tab. It’s a promising start and I want to encourage others to add in their data too!
Hub Together launch. In the first of our monthly ‘Hub Together’ town halls, we invited members to bring their lunches and voices to help shape the community over the coming year. Sam Chorlton, DT Hub Chair and Tom Hughes, Delivery Lead were there to answer questions on what the plans are for the community going forward and what influence the community can have on the information management framework. Hub Together takes place on the third Wednesday of each month and the next one is the 17th February at noon.
Legal Roundtables Outcome Report. We have completed a series of four carefully scoped roundtables, bringing together nine leading lawyers, across practice areas such as planning, IP, data protection and ethics. The overarching outcome was that, although there are legal challenges, there are no red flags to the IMF. The roundtables were led by Sarah Rock, principal associate in the construction and engineering team at Gowling and it has been fantastic to have her input. An outcomes report has been published to provide further insights into the findings.
Launch of Community for "Data Value and Quality". This is a place to focus discussion around how our collective approach to data governance, value and quality must evolve. It provides a central point for the storage of resources that are relevant to each topic, and a forum for the open sharing of ideas, research and case studies.
Progress of the Gemini programme. In our weekly Gemini call, which takes place every Tuesday from 10:30-11:00, we are regularly joined by over 50 individuals from across Government, industry and academia. It is open to all DT Hub members and is an opportunity to hear updates on the various NDTp streams. It is also a chance to invite attendees to collaborate on projects, such as the ‘Digital Twin Toolkit’. Already nine organisations have volunteered their time to supporting it and are currently preparing a DT Toolkit report to go out in sync with the Tech Digital Twin Report.
Happy new year! I’m sure that many of us are quite relieved to put much of 2020 behind us, but as I reflect back on the past year and our new goals for 2021, there is much to celebrate as well.
A year of surprises
There was of course, the huge impact of COVID on all our lives – like others across the country we had to move to home working, new ways of communicating and juggling home school with Zoom meetings. Yet throughout I was struck by how my team and the wider DT Hub community kept the momentum going and were determined to keep ‘moving things forward’. I’m really grateful for all their hard work and find it encouraging that things can progress and work so well in the virtual world.
Another surprise came earlier in the year after the launch of the DT Hub. It was clear to us that there needed to be a community of users sharing ideas and experience, but we were cautious as to what the response would be. The built environment has typically been quite siloed, without much engagement between sectors, so we knew it would be a challenge to break people out of those distinct sectors and work as a unified entity.
So it was a very welcome surprise to find our caution misplaced! We were expecting around 200 members by year end, but we have, in fact, got over 1000 members. It has really shown us that there is this huge amount of enthusiasm and momentum around digital twins, as well as an appetite for being a part of the conversation.
We’ve also been struck by the emotional investment of members towards getting this emerging field right. For example, the debate around establishing a common set of standards has been heated at times, but in a positive way. We’ve wanted to include different voices and make sure that everyone is being heard and that means differences in opinion. We believe that is a healthy environment to be in and we intend to keep driving the conversation in a constructive way.
Keeping the momentum going
This all gives us good cause to be optimistic going in to 2021. We’re starting the year by opening the Hub up further to try and accommodate as many people as possible. We are extending the invite to academia and the international community, as well as branching in to other sectors such as Formula 1 and manufacturing.
To support this increase in numbers, we have revamped the DT Hub website. We’ve reflected on the feedback we’ve received and the refresh aims to make it more useable and accessible. As ever, we would love your opinion on what is working best for you and what you would like to see more of.
There will also be a shift in the Hub in terms of content. As expected from a new organization, we have been directing much of the content to get the conversation started.
We’re now at the point where we will move to enabling our members to share and drive that content.
At the heart of the DT Hub is its members. This is a place for members to share, discuss, network and learn and although we have been driving much of the content up until now, we want to hand the reigns over to you - enabling you to suggest the topics and themes you want to discuss and exploring the areas that will most benefit the community.
Launch of ‘Hub Together’ and Community Insights
Starting this year there will be a regular series of ‘Hub Togethers’, town hall style events where the reins will be very much in the hands of our members. This will be your chance to shape the conversation and grill us on any topics related to the DT Hub. We intend to make it as interactive as possible with flash up polls and the option to respond or add in comments to questions.
In conjunction with Hubs Together, we will also be starting a series called ‘Community Insights’. Each month we’ll invite a different member or group from the community and interview them on the work they are doing in the digital twin space, as well as finding out a bit about their background and interests. We now have members from all infrastructure sectors and we think it will be fascinating to get a chance to really dig deeper on what is happening in each field.
In the first of our Community Insights, I’m excited to interview the CSIC research team who, in collaboration with Cambridge City Council, are developing a digital twin for Cambridge. I’m keen to find out all the lessons they learnt from the experience and what kind of impact they think it could have for the city.
We will also be continuing our work on standards this year. A lot of the foundational thinking has already been done, as well as some of the passionate discussions referenced earlier! This has set us on a clear path to what will be the first set of standards - a really momentous achievement, born out of a lot of collaboration.
So there is plenty to get stuck in to for 2021 and we would love our members to continue to get involved. Do please take a look around the refreshed website and start signing up to the various events on offer. I look forward to seeing you all this coming year.
It’s been clear from the start of the National Digital Twin programme, that to make it a success we really need to work closely with users and early adopters to share best practice and create a framework for others to build on. In practice this has meant a lot of research, evaluation and collaboration.
November has been an exciting month in that respect and we continue to build momentum by marking several more milestones. The first is the publication of two great survey papers, that really boost our technical core: ‘A survey of Top-Level Ontologies’ and ‘A Survey of Industry Data Models and Reference Data Libraries’. They are ground breaking in both their extent and detail. It’s also important to note that they are very useable –these are not just theoretical exercises.
Essentially, these survey papers identify the requirements and inform the ontological choices for a Foundation Data Model (FDM). The FDM, built upon a top-level ontology, is a major component of the IMF and a basis for ensuring consistent data across the National Digital Twin. By sharing all these surveys we hope to give an in-depth analysis and inform rather than dictate.
Informed by diverse expertise
These are the first papers from the NTDp’s technical team, headed up by Matthew West, one of the lead authors on ‘Pathways to IMF’. Matthew has over 30 years industry experience and is complimented by a team of 6 core members, who each bring their particular specialisms from cyber security to reference data libraries, to the table. There is a further group of around 30 to 40 who also feed in their expertise. Having a group of diverse voices, with industry experience, has really helped produce papers that are practical, useful and understand what the end user needs.
However, we are keen to add more voices to the mix. We want the process of development to be accessible and inclusive to all and invite you to give your join and give feedback through the IMF Network. The technical team will be monitoring the network and can get back to you on any questions you may have.
We’re encouraged by the positive feedback we’ve received so far, with readers saying that they are the most comprehensive surveys they have come across and there is no other work that covers the landscape as well as this. So congratulations to our technical team!
Other activities from November I would like to highlight are:
Skills to implement the IMF – We’re excited to start a new project seeking to understand the breadth and depth of skills and roles required to successfully develop, implement and operate an IMF. The delivery team is led by David Plummer, Digital Transformation Lead at Mott MacDonald and they will be creating a new “IMF Skills Network” to share with the community.
BIMF to IMF – We also kicked off another project to identify and strengthen the connective tissue between BIM Framework and the Information Management Framework. It’s part of our wider mission to create an IMF that aligns industry, academia and government. The delivery team led by, Simon Evans, Digital Energy Leader from Arup will be organising a series of roundtables to discuss topics such as interoperability, whole-lifecycle integration and socio-technical changes.
NUAR case study – The National Underground Asset Register (NUAR) Pilot Programme tested the Gemini Principles and published a new case study, with an emphasis on purpose and trust. It was an ambitious undertaking in terms of the number of asset owners required to collaborate on delivering a connected digital twin with improved safety of operations, especially those associated with underground assets.
Smart Infrastructure (SI) Index results – The results of the SI Index survey on digital maturity have been released and Chair of DT Hub, Sam Chorlton, and Tom Hughes, DT Hub Delivery Lead, have been looking at what the results mean to the DT Hub. Watch the interview and read a summary of the report.
Digital Twin Hub refresh – The DT Hub are planning a new release of the DT Hub website that will bring some much needed improvements to accessibility, usability and new functionality. The new website will be released on the 11th of December.
Standards roadmap published and event – The DT Hub together with BSI have conducted extensive research into the current standardisation landscape to identify what existing standards already support digital twins and where there may be potential gaps. A consultation with members of the DT Hub and the wider community to discuss priorities for standards to support successful digital twins will take place on the 3rd December at 10:00. REGISTER to take part.
Before I sign off, I want to take a final opportunity to encourage you to take part in these activities. As we establish these strong foundations, we really want them to be built on consensus, so do please join in.
This month I’d like to highlight a new piece of BSI research exploring the standards landscape for built environment digital twins and invite you to an online workshop where your input can shape the priorities for standards.
Standards enabling secure data sharing provide a catalyst for the development of digital twins at scale that, when connected, will enable the National Digital Twin. As part of the National Digital Twin programme, the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) has tasked the British Standards Institution (BSI) to research current standards to identify those relevant to the development of built-environment digital twins – and detect any gaps in existing standards needed to make developing, maintaining and sharing digital twin information easier and more consistent.
The initial scoping exercise is now complete, and a search matrix developed from this research has been applied to the existing standards landscape to pinpoint potential standards of interest and grade them in relation to relevance to connecting built-environment digital twins.
BSI and CDBB are now reviewing the results of this exercise to identify if and where standards are needed to overcome a specific challenge or fulfil a purpose on the road to the National Digital Twin. This also involves exploring existing standards in other sectors to consider if that same solution can be applied to the built environment – or if an existing standard may be modified or extended to capture our own use case and form part of the digital twin fold.
Following the standards landscape scoping exercise, a roadmap has now being created to visualise the results of the research and make recommendations prioritising standards to be developed. The document will be accompanied by a report to include the narrative, justification and rationale behind the roadmap.
How you can be involved
We are excited to sharing this draft with members of the DT Hub to interrogate the findings and further develop the roadmap. BSI will lead a workshop on the 3rd December which will invite input from members to both critique and verify these findings. The workshop will take place from 10:00 – 12:00, REGISTER your place to receive details for how to take part. The DT Hub’s mission is to bring together the digital twin community to share experiences, challenges and opportunities and we want our members to be stakeholders in shaping the direction of travel of these important developments – we can’t do it alone.
The standards landscape work is significant in paving the way for future prospects. In the early 1900s, the BSI developed a standard for tram gauges at a time when, in the UK alone, there were 75 different widths of gauge; reducing it down to five recommended widths. Using the standard resulted in increased compatibility between networks and rolling stock and boosted the industry’s fortunes. As the British standard was adopted abroad, the UK tram market enjoyed more opportunities to trade and business flourished. The vision of the National Digital Twin programme rests on the ability to connect an ecosystem of digital twins and share information to unlock value and efficiencies that bring financial and social benefits for all. Realising this vision requires an Information Management Framework that contains a level of consistency and compatibility to facilitate the secure exchange of data, and it is standards that provide the guidance to establish a common digital language that will catalyse the collective data management and analysis required for better decision-making.
Digital twins are already being designed, built, bought and sold but a National Digital Twin is still in the making. This is precisely why considering the standards landscape in relation to built-environment digital twins is critical now. Ahead of businesses and organisations making increased investment in IT and infrastructure for digital twins reaching critical mass, it is imperative to ensure the foundations and framework supporting the growth of digital twins will sustain the end goal of secure data exchange and interoperability.
Standards are, of course, not compulsory but they can help us to minimise risk and investment and streamline development by providing tried and tested good practice that is industry-ready to adopt. Fostering communities of good practice is an important tool for accelerating learning and building confidence and competence collectively. I hope you will join our BSI-led workshops to explore the digital twins standards landscape, securing your organisation’s place at the starting point of these important developments.
As many of you will know, the DT Hub sits within the NDTp and provides a forum for testing and a community for learning and progressing digital twins. In this note I’ve invited @Peter El Hajj, the Head of Delivery for the National Digital Twin programme (NDTp) to give members of the Hub an update from the programme. I’ve asked Peter to tell us a little about himself and to give us a whistle-stop tour of the NDTp; how it got started, what’s happened so far and its plans for the coming year and beyond.
Sam: We met shortly after the Data for the Public Good report was published and you were a member of the resulting Digital Framework Task Group (DFTG) – what has happened since then?
Peter: Rather a lot has happened since then. At the time I worked in infrastructure finance and digital ventures at Mott MacDonald. I then joined the DFTG to develop the roadmap towards a national digital twin. Since then we have established the delivery vehicle for the national digital twin programme consisting of the three core streams: DTHub, Commons and Change. Each step has been exciting and enriching and it’s only the beginning of the journey.
Sam: These are exciting times for the NDTp, what motivated you to join as Head of Delivery and what do you see is on the horizon for the programme?
Peter: The NDTp’s vision is to improve the lives of people by bettering the performance of infrastructure. This is achieved through effective and secure sharing of data and information across sectors and organisations. I personally find these ambitions meaningful and the opportunity to contribute to their success highly motivating. In the long term I see the national digital twin changing the way we plan and manage infrastructure.
Sam: What would you say are some of the milestones the NDTp is most proud of?
Peter: There have been quite a few but if I were to pick the top they would be the publishing of the Gemini Principles - the conscience of the entire programme, of course the launch of the Digital Twin Hub, hosting the inaugural National Digital Twin Day and publication of the Flourishing Systems report and the Pathway towards an IMF. The old saying of ‘start as you mean to continue’ really rings true with these pieces – they form the foundations of the programme.
Sam: In terms of the DT Hub, what do you think is the greatest way in which the Hub and its members can contribute to the NDTp?
Peter: I would say keep doing what you’re doing. Keep building digital twins, keep sharing your experiences; successes and challenges. As with many initiatives, there will be those who are not yet ready to make the leap but equally there are always those who see the vision and the DT Hub is the pioneering community collectively pushing forward and paving the way for others.
Sam: There are many within the DT Hub who are already active across the NDTp but for those who may not be aware or are interested in finding out what else is happening across the programme and how they may get involved, can you share some highlights across the programme and perhaps how our members can get involved?
Peter: Sure, here’s the newest and latest from around the programme:
New team member: we are delighted to have @HenryFT join the team as DTHub Community Manager.
DFTG meeting: The DFTG meets every two months to provide comments, challenges and direction for the NDTp. Our last meeting was two weeks ago and I’m happy to report that members’ comments were positive and supportive for our core three streams: Commons led by @James Harris , DTHub led by @Samuel A Chorlton and Change led by @Sarah Hayes. The DFTG, chaired by @Mark Enzer; is the advisory board for the NDTp. Its members represent asset owners and operators, institutions, universities, government, regulators, supply chain, legal firms, consultancies and tech providers.
FDM Seed: The Foundation Data Model (FDM) Seed team led by @Matthew West is making good progress on the technical core of the IMF. The product of their hard work have been captured in key documents soon to be published on the IMF Community Network here on the DTHub with the help of @Zane Ulhaq. These documents are the Top-Level Ontologies (TLO) paper, the Industry Data Models survey paper and the TLO recommendation paper. Join the network to take part in the fascinating discussions taking place.
Open consultation on the IMF: The open consultation on “the pathway towards an IMF” concluded at the end of August and we have received 24 responses which are now in the process of being reviewed. @Miranda Sharp is leading the next phase of engagement to refine the proposed approach and ensure we remain faithful to the pathway towards an IMF which is a priority for the programme.
Gemini Call: A new call has been started to provide weekly updates from the programme to supporters of the programme last week. The call takes place every Tuesday 10:30 to 11:00 hosted by @Simon Evans. The Gemini Call is part of the Gemini Programme - an NDTp collaboration initiative. The first Gemini project is the DT Toolkit which includes a collection of digital twin case studies, use cases, a business case template and implementation roadmap for digital twins. This project is a collaboration with KPMG, Frazer-Nash, PA Consulting and Dassault Systèmes. If you are interested in joining the call please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
Skills to implement the IMF: A new tender opportunity was published last week on the CDBB website. This tender is looking to grow awareness of the roles and skills required for implementing the IMF. This includes the development of a capability framework, gap analysis and priority list of roles and skills for early action. The IMF aims to enable effective information management across the built environment and is the basis for a national digital twin.
The NDTp is a socio-technical change programme. It aims to enable an integrated digital built environment to improve the performance of infrastructure and improve the lives of people. We run an open and collaborative programme and always welcome contributions and ideas.
Peter will be providing regular updates on the NDTp and how you can get involved. To find out more about any of the activities and how to get involved reach out to email@example.com.
In my third editorial note I am going to focus on examples of community members sharing for community good. These are not the only good example of sharing in the community but are ones that have stood out to me personally. Sharing is central to the progress that this community will make, by highlighting examples I hope to empower other members of the community to share.
Digital Twin Talks
During July and August, I have been facilitating the second series of Digital Twin talks on interconnected digital twins. It has been a real privilege to work with all the speakers and pose questions during our live discussions at 10:30 am every Tuesday. It has also been great to see members of the community asking questions. If a question is relevant to you, it is also likely to be relevant to others. Asking questions drives the discussion forward and brings out more details from the presentation.
@Steven Zhang from Modular Geospatial Data for Everyone has been an ever present participant during this Twin Talk series, asking great questions to each of our speakers – kudos to you and thank you for showing such a strong commitment to the community!
You can check out upcoming talks on the calendar and view past talks. We will be concluding this series of talks with a live round table featuring all of the speakers on 25th August. Please bring your thoughts, questions and challenges regarding the interconnection of digital twins.
Also if you would like to take part in a future twin talk series by giving a presentation yourself please contact either myself, or Tammy Au the DT Hub engagement lead.
Members of the community who rapidly scale solutions are probably already familiar with “orders of magnitude”. The Supplier Register has just passed its first small milestones – from 0 to 10 entries and from 10 to 100 supplier views. Our next milestones are much more ambitious from 10 to 100 entries and from 100 to 1000 supplier views.
Rather than highlight a specific entry, I would like to thank all members that have added to this growing resource. As early adopters your solutions are already being showcased through the lens of the Gemini principles information value chain.
For members of the community who haven’t yet submitted an entry I would encourage your to do so. Adding an entry is straightforward and quick to do. If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me directly on the hub using the mail icon at the top of our navigation bar.
We are also currently planning our platform enhancements for delivery between September 2020 to March 2021. I would like to give the supplier register some TLC to support scaling to our next milestones and beyond. If you have any suggestions that you would like to see on our wish list, please let me know.
We know that digital twin is rapidly growing into a big space. While our aspiration is for the DT Hub to be THE community for you to connect, discuss and share, there is so much good stuff going on outside of the DT Hub we are very grateful to members of the community for sharing these with other members and bringing them to our attention.
@Mark Coates of Bentley Systems shared details of Microsoft’s “The IoT Show” as they were doing a deep dive on integrating 3D models and IoT data using Bentley Systems and Microsoft technologies. As this show featured a virtual premier and live Q&A we were more than happy to share this using the community calendar. Community members can “Create Events” in the calendar using the button at the top of the page. Please feel empowered to use this to share upcoming Digital Twin events with the community.
If you missed the live premier, the recording of the show is on the Microsoft Developer YouTube channel.
As new communities form it takes time for new members to gauge the lay of the land and to transition from viewers of content to active participants in discussion. A key step in this community forming is community members sharing their own content into the community to stimulate thoughts and feedback from others.
Picking out only one example would be very difficult, but there are two that particularly stood out to me in the last month.
@Stephen Wolski of Sensat shared a great post on Semantic segmentation of 3D point clouds. This stood out to me for a number of reasons. 3D point clouds are something I have personally struggled with during my time producing BIM models on Infrastructure projects, so I was very interested to see advances in this area. The post itself was a good “executive summary” of the work that Sensat and the Alan Turing Institute have been doing to teach computers to understand the real world and links to a well written and detailed report for those that have an interest in the topic. An exemplar community post.
Ian Gordon of Highway England shared a link to an article he authored titled “5 ways that Digital Twins could destroy society”. It is an excellent, thought provoking read. I don’t believe that Digital Twin will destroy society, nor does Ian, but I believe the point is to think about all outcomes not just the one you are working towards.
It takes a level of bravery and leadership to share your views with a community. So, I would like to thank Stephen and Ian for providing tangible examples of what good looks like. One thing all members of the community can do is recognise these contributions using the like et al feedback buttons. This helps us and the rest of the community identify hot topics that our community are engaging with. Another thing is to reply to the topic, to share your thoughts, experiences and constructively challenge. This will help to connect the community and drive us all forward.
I would like to thank all members of the community that are sharing their knowledge and experience for community good. I would also like to apologise that for the editorial I have only been able to pick a few examples of what good looks like. Of course, I hope by sharing these examples I will empower all members of the community to take the step to become an active member of the community by sharing something themselves.
Delivery Lead, DT Hub
10th August 2020
The Digital Twin is one of the most mentioned terms across the built environment and as such is entering a phase in which it has somewhat of an identity crisis. This provides opportunity for some whilst presenting risk for others. It is vital that we learn to understand what constitutes a Digital Twin whilst not inhibiting its ability to evolve. Failure to do this effectively will prohibit the potential value proposition put forward by Digital Twins and devalue the vital work developed by the community thus far.
Big Data entered a similar phase itself and one, I feel, that it never truly managed to overcome. With the early claims relating to the potential value capabilities of harnessing Big Data every company quickly tried to do what it could to reap these rewards. Many companies however didn’t manage to achieve this and as such it quickly started to become regarded as an exaggerated claim. Although I think the results of some of those organisations should have been taken with a ‘pinch of salt’ I think some of this could have been addressed by properly understanding the foundations and standardising the approach at an earlier point in time.
The community has dedicated much time and energy in the exploration of Theme 1: Defining and Conceptualising Digital Twins and our focus going forward is to continue the exploration in more depth and detail. As such, we have enlisted BSI to support this work and over the coming months we hope, the community, together with BSI will begin the work of defining a roadmap built on consensus, best practice and leading to much needed industry standards.
This work will also be bolstered by activities across the DT Hub and the National Digital Twin programme including:
· The Information Management Framework (IMF) pathway detailing the approach to establishing a common language allowing digital twins to connect. You still have time to have your say on the pathway to the IMF with the consultation closing on the 31st August.
· Digital Twin Standards Roadmap developed through assessment of existing gaps and establishing a standards landscape review by BSI.
· Smart Infrastructure Index survey being conducted within the DT Hub for members to measure their organisation’s digital maturity and benchmark against other asset owners within the industry and the Hub. Members’ scores will be aggregated to provide insight for a report about current digital maturity in our journey towards a national digital twin.
We therefore all have a role to play to ensure that we are not just riding the hype wave of digital twins but looking at what role each of us can play in ensuring we achieve a collective end result we are all happy with.
Samuel A Chorlton Chair, DT Hub Steering Group 10th August 2020
The history of creating models as representations of architecture and infrastructure has provenance dating back over 7000 years with early examples recorded in areas such as Gumelnita (now known as Bulgaria) in 4600 BCE.
In the centuries since then the accuracy of these models have changed greatly thanks to modern methods but the principles have remained the same. Digital Twins provide us the next opportunity not just because it has the potential to produce a near idetic representation of as-built infrastructure but also to dynamically update the model to reflect changes within the system. As with physical modelling this is going to be a process that continually evolves and will be refined over time.
For the Hub and the National Digital Twin programme it is essential that we are able to understand what the current maturity of digital twin practices looks like and the intentions that exist. To this end we have established a Digital Twin Register https://digitaltwinhub.co.uk/dtdb/ which will perform a vital role in allowing us to see the current state and the evolution of landscape. To date we have only had a few submissions to this area of the site. To better facilitate the inclusion of register entries we have created a exemplar entry with some explanatory prose to aid with completion of the register. It is important to note that this isn’t just for completed Digital Twins but also for usecases or early stage developments. The programme will be able to use this work to chart a course and providing support as appropriate to aid the members.
I am writing this editorial to request from you, our members, to provide entries for the register and to allow us to perform some initial analysis. If we can reach a sufficient level of entries we will then be able to start providing more targeted resources to the community and also allow you to review what other similar activities maybe taking place across the built environment. Add your digital twin here.