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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
In my second editorial note I would like to focus on how member feedback is being used to iterate the functionality provided by the DT Hub, improve member experience, and how we are looking to measure whether the functions we are providing are creating value for our members.
Based on feedback from our members we have simplified our community name from “Suppliers and Innovators” to simply “Innovators”. This reflects our view that all members of the community are innovators who are developing solutions that enable the vision of the National Digital Twin. You are creating value for owners and operators of built environment assets and delivering social and environmental outcomes. The community name is inclusive, upholding our values and the community culture we wish to nurture.
For organisations that supply digital twin solutions commercially, the Supplier Register is a way to showcase solutions through the lens of the Gemini principles information value chain.
Thank you to our members who have already created entries in the supplier register, and for all the feedback you have provided. We have already made some improvements to the registration process aimed at making it quicker to get submissions approved by the moderation team. We would also welcome further feedback on how we can continue to improve the suppliers register feature.
As we now have several suppliers who have registered, we have made the supplier register visible to the members of our community that own and operate assets in the built environment. The supplier register will continue to grow and evolve over time, now is a great time to register your organisation and showcase your solutions to asset owners and operators.
We will measure the success of the supplier register based on the number of organisation who chose to use it to showcase their solutions, the number of community requested enhancement we are able to implement, and feedback from the asset owner operator community on the value of the register in identifying who does what when it comes to digital twin solutions.
Based on feedback from our members we have restructured our resources section. You will now see “Core” and “Community” resource categories. Core resources are documents published by the DT Hub team, the wider National Digital Twin programme and the Centre for Digital Built Britain.
Community resources are resources shared by you, our community, for the benefit of the community. We have made these changes to make it easier for you to share resources, and to ensure that community resources can be shared to all members of the DT Hub.
We will measure the success of the community resources by the number of resources that are shared by our members, the number of times that resources are downloaded by other members, and then number of discussions that community resources create in our members forums.
Our original roadmap had a phase for international members later in 2020 once our current communities are established and thriving. In welcoming innovators to the DT Hub at the start of June we may have overlooked those innovators who do not live in the UK but work for multi-national organisations.
This led to colleagues working for the same organisation, some living in the UK and some living elsewhere receiving different responses to their membership requests. This, of course, was not the intention, and based on feedback from the community we have adjusted our membership policy to include innovators working for multi-national organisations. We are rolling out the updates to our membership policy this week, so expect to see your international colleagues on the DT Hub soon!
As a community, we measure success based on the number and quality of discussions taking place across our forums. It is hoped that welcoming international innovators will lead to more and better discussions that enable the development of expertise and the advancement of digital twin usage.
I hope providing some tactile examples of how member feedback is driving the iterative cycle of development within the DT Hub, and some of the ways we will be measuring the success (or failure) will encourage you to provide more feedback on what is needed to make the DT Hub a success. I hope the changes we have made in the first month of the innovator community will add value to all members, and that this will stimulate more use, which will lead to more feedback and we can continue to iterate and measure success.
When the Digital Twin Hub launched two months ago we welcomed asset owners and operators as our first group of members. At the same time, we generated tremendous levels of interest from people who are developing digital twin technologies and providing a range of services to asset owners and operators.
We have been working hard to develop and test new Digital Twin Hub features which we hope will support the needs of this new group of members and continue to strengthen the delivery of Digital Twin Hub’s core objectives.
Welcoming our second group of members and releasing a new set of tailored features is a hugely satisfying milestone to have reached. Now the fun really starts as we look to you to share your views and discuss key topics that will collectively advance the creation of the National Digital Twin.
As the first editorial note for the supplier and innovator community, this note covers some of the features we have delivered and some of the lessons we have learnt.
At its core the Digital Twin Hub is about connecting members and facilitating discussion that will shape the National Digital Twin Programme. Within the member forum area there is a range of forums that have been created, ranging from general discussion to strategic thinking and specific elements of the National Digital Twin programme. Within each forum there are discussion topics, and within each topic there is a discussion thread.
As members you are all actively encouraged to contribute to these discussions, share your views, your experience of what works (and doesn’t work), and anything you feel contributes to the community. You will see that members of the hub facilitation team will frequently kick off discussions with some relevant content. I would also like to encourage you to do the same, as members you can create discussion topics within any of the forums and use this as an opportunity to share content with the wider community.
We would also like to hear what other forums you would like to see within the members area. As the Digital Twin Hub continues to develop these will be actively shaped by our community.
With so many innovative solutions being developed to support the creation of digital twins we wanted to provide a space in the Digital Twin Hub dedicated to this. It is an opportunity for suppliers of digital twin solutions to showcase their capabilities, and an opportunity for asset owners to better understand what is available to enable their digital twin journey.
We have worked with both suppliers of digital twin solutions and those that are working on delivering digital twins within asset owning and operating organisations to understand how we might go about this task. The result, the Supplier Register, is aligned to elements of information value chain – first published in the Gemini Principles.
It is hoped that this common framework, orientated to the value generated by the creation and connection of Digital Twin, will be of benefit to all members of our community. If you supply digital twin solutions you are encouraged to submit an entry to the supplier register. These are intended to be one per supplier covering the range of solutions you provide.
As we continue to develop though our beta period, we would like to hear feedback on what would make the suppliers register even better.
The glossary section of the Digital Twin Hub provides a direct connection between the community on the Digital Twin Hub and some of the work being delivered by the National Digital Twin Programme. A foundation to the creation and connection of digital twins is a common vocabulary and a shared understanding of meaning. To build consensus around this area of work the Glossary section is intentionally interactive. Some initial terms have been provided, all of which can be commented on by our members. Members can also submit new terms using the “suggest new term” button for other members to comment on.
More information on the glossary development work can be found in the digital twin talk titled “Twinfrastructure” delivered by Neil Thompson, the delivery lead for the National Digital Twin Commons.
As I mentioned toward the start of this editorial note, now the fun really starts. Please make full use of the Digital Twin Hub’s functionality; contribute your views to discussion, start new discussions yourself, share relevant content, use the supplier register, and contribute to the Glossary. Building a community platform is one thing, building a community is another thing entirely. By connecting, discussing, and sharing, we can collectively advance the National Digital Twin and the benefits for society and the natural environment that it will bring.
In the coming weeks there are a range of activities to continue to build this community including;
Digital Twin Talks (Series 2) – Connecting or Connected Digital Twins?
The National Digital Twin Pathway to the Information Management Framework Webinar
Digital Twins – A Foundational Guide
Welcome to the Digital Twin Hub,
Delivery Lead, DT Hub
29th May 2020
Learning to Succeed and Succeeding to Learn. 3 Core Lessons
The Digital Twin Hub’s ethos from the start has been one of openness; and learning from the collective successes and failures of the community. In order to make this a part of our collective behaviour I think it is essential that we ‘practice as we preach’ and as such, since we are rapidly approaching the end of the 2nd month since we launched the Digital Twin Hub I feel this give us an excellent opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made and some of the lessons we have learnt along the way. This will then provide some context to the activities we have planned for the coming months to strive towards a Hub that truly delivers to its’ community.
The industry is collectively having to learn, adapt and evolve in an unprecedented manner because of the COVID-19 epidemic that has been sweeping both the United Kingdom and across the globe. It would be unfair for us to claim that we have been unaffected by this, but I think it important to reflect that its effects on the Hub are both unexpected and insightful. The core ‘stay home, stay safe’ message from the Government has moved the majority of our members into a new default of working from home. This has increased our dependence on Digital mechanisms to maintain communications; and awareness of activities outside of our standard roles.
At the outset of the epidemic we were understandably concerned about the impact that this would have on the growth of the Hub and the subsequent engagement from the community. However, we have seen continued growth in the membership level of the community growing from a core of just a dozen members to in excess of almost 200 members in just under two months. This has translated to our Digital Twin talks consistently achieving over 70 views and nearly 50 people tuning in to listen to our first ever live Digital Round table.
My personal sense is that a significant proportion of this engagement is as a result of the importance placed on the development of Digital Twins and if anything, this has only increased in light of the current situation.
Lesson 1: If a need truly exists it will continue to exist irrespective of changing circumstances. We should instead focus on how to continue delivering value within the new constraints.
Behavioural change is going to be a fundamental component on the journey towards realising Digital Twins as both the management of the assets change but also the manner in which we all interact with the assets around us. This necessity for change is also a fundamental component of enabling the Digital Twin Hub to satisfy both the needs of the community and in turn also the value outcomes. As the Hub goes through its formation process this an area that is proving especially complex and difficult to achieve.
This difficultly exists in my mind for two core reasons: providing a sufficiently compelling offering to justify people dedicating the necessary time to the Hub and reaching a point of critical mass in which the majority of content and value is community generated.
Although the events and activities we have run so far have produced extremely promising levels of interest, these do not always result in continued engagement following. We have therefore taken the decision going forward to drive more crucial activities from the National Digital Twin Programme and related activities onto the Hub to provide the community with the opportunity to be an even greater part of the discussion.
Lesson 2: Tipping the balance of self-generated to member-generated content will deliver a sustainable and more valuable prospect.
Meeting the Demand
When we first launched the Hub, we never imagined that two months in and we would have 200 registered and approved members with a further 300 pending registrations. This demand includes not just core asset owners and suppliers but also international, academic, public bodies and more.
Although, these groups were communities we hoped to be able to include as part of the Hubs activities in future we had not anticipated this level of interest at such an early point in time. We are therefore actively undertaking steps to allow us to include as many groups as possible as soon as possible whilst maintaining security.
Whilst we work to confirm and grow the Hub’s community we are trying to make as many of the activities we host as open as possible to include as many voices as we can.
Lesson 3: Never underestimate the value people place on significant change especially where the value of success is so exponentially beneficial.
As we step into the next phase of the Hub, we are filled with anticipation for where the next part of the journey will take us. Stay tuned for a number of activities that you will be able to engage with:
1. Digital Twin Talks (Series 2) – Connecting or Connected Digital Twins?
2. A Digital Twin Organisational Maturity Survey.
3. The National Digital Twin Pathway to the Information Management Framework Webinar
4. Digital Twins – A Foundational Guide
5. More yet to be announced
Samuel A Chorlton
Chair, DT Hub Steering Group
29th May 2020
It’s been a busy couple of weeks since my last update. It has been great to see a fantastic level of engagement for our recent Digital Twin Talks and our webinar on the “Pathway to value”, with more coming up for you to get involved in later this month.
Before I get into that, I thought it would be useful to reflect briefly on the role that digital twins can play in increasing the resilience of our infrastructure, economies and societies. Digital twins can help us to improve long-term planning, including by assessing a wide range of scenarios, as well as considering the impacts of potential risks and threats to physical infrastructure and related services. They can also increase flexibility and dynamism in responding to shocks as and when these occur in future. This fact has even been recognised by the World Economic Forum (WEF) who cited the National Digital Twin programme within an article relating to infrastructure resilience and recovery.
A more resilient future should also be a more sustainable one and there is a golden opportunity to shape a recovery that meets both goals. This includes looking at our existing infrastructure and how we protect and utilise it. As well as being open to fresh ideas about how we plan, build, operate and decommission or dynamically repurpose new infrastructure. This is a clear priority for the UK and international governments, and the Committee for Climate Change has just set out six principles for a resilient recovery.
We’d love to see some of your ideas on digital twins and resilience in the DT Hub, from the projects you are involved in now through to your plans for the future.
Could there be a better day of the week to discuss digital twins? Our Digital Twin Talks kicked off on Tuesday 28th April with a video and live online discussion on “Towards a Web of Digital Twins” from Olivier Thereaux, Head of Research and Development at the ODI. Olivier made a fascinating connection between networks of digital twins and the thinking behind the world wide web. This prompted a lively debate on a wide range of topics including interoperability, taxonomies, data sharing, standards and being driven by a clear purpose.
You can still view the conversation thread (and add further thoughts or comments) here.
This was swiftly followed up by a talk on 5th May with Brian Matthews, Project Lead for the Data & Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure (DAFNI). DAFNI are providing exactly the kind of data infrastructure that the ODI are calling for and that can support sharing and connections between data and models. This sparked another lively discussion, with questions and comments on data and metadata, on how people can access and use DAFNI, on the carbon impacts of transport infrastructure and more.
You can still view the conversation thread (and add further thoughts or comments) here.
The next session took place on Tuesday 12th May with Dr Tanguy Coenen from Imec, with a focus on city-level digital twins.
Pathway to value
We had lots of great discussion during our theme 3 webinar “Pathway to value” on 30th April. Many thanks if you were able to join us and share your perspectives. If you couldn’t make it, then there are still plenty of opportunities to get involved.
During the session, we discussed how digital twins can deliver economic (profit), social (people) and environmental (planet) benefits, as well as considering some of the blockers to overcome. We also began to look at proposed activities for the theme and related priorities for members.
The slides we used, including high-level information we captured from you on valuable use cases, are now available to download from the Resources section.
We have also created a dedicated discussion forum for this theme which you can access here. Please do continue to contribute your ideas on use cases that can drive value in this section, as well as any other thoughts you have on how we can realise the anticipated benefits.
In addition, if you would like to share information about specific projects, then it would fantastic if you can add these to the DT Register. If you need any help with this then please don’t hesitate to come back to me or to other members of the wider CDBB team.
How to get involved
A quick reminder of a few of the ways you can get involved in DT Hub activities:
Comment on an existing post or start a new topic in the Members Forum
Add a summary of your digital twin projects to the DT Register (a register of digital twin projects – we’d be very happy to help to write these up)
Join the next Digital Twin Talk on 12th May, with one more planned for 19th May and then a digital roundtable to bring all the speakers together on 26th May
Let us know through the “Contact Us” option at the bottom of each page what other activities and content you would like to see in the portal in future
We hope you enjoy the latest content and activities – and look forward to seeing you online soon.
Samuel A Chorlton
Chair, DT Hub Steering Group
13th May 2020
In this note, I’d like to reflect on a successful launch for the DT Hub and look ahead at some exciting planned activities.
The formal launch of the DT Hub at the end of March generated considerable interest. I would like to express a personal thank you to all the members all your help in promoting it.
More than 200 people registered their interest within just a few days, including innovators, stakeholders as well as asset owners. This was driven by a focus on personal sharing through social media, very much in line with our community ethos, which generated a real buzz with hundreds of engagements through “likes” and “shares”.
As part of the launch, we also created a beta version of a separate space in the portal for innovators from the supply chain and other key stakeholders. We are working with a small group of these organisations to test and help us refine this area. Connected to this, we are developing an “Open Forum” where we can host joint discussions between existing DT Hub Members and the supply chain – more on that below.
We’ve lined up an interesting set of activities, each building on the three priority themes that we identified with you.
Firstly, we’re excited to announce the “Digital Twin Talks”, with videos and facilitated online discussions in a public part of the Open Forum area. The first set of talks is a five-part series facilitated by @SimonEvans of Arup exploring how digital twins are defined and the overarching concepts around them.
Videos will be available from 9:00 each Tuesday with live discussions from 10:30 – 11:30. An introduction video is already available on the DT Hub home page. The first talk, on the 28th April, is “Towards a Web of Digital Twins” from Olivier Thereaux at the ODI.
We will also run a webinar for theme 3 addressing the “Pathway to value” for digital twins on Thursday 30th April and will send out the invitation within the next few days.
In addition, we will continue to share more content into the DT Hub to help spark discussions and follow up on themes 1 and 2 including:
• A report with initial insights for theme 1 based on member discussions and research
• Ideas on a possible “test” for what might comprise a digital twin (part of theme 1)
• Potential “role profiles” for people who need to use and interact with digital twins (part of theme 2)
• Intro pieces for themes 2 and 3
How to get involved
A quick reminder of a few of the ways you can get involved:
• Comment on an existing post or start a new topic in the Members Forum
• Add a summary of your digital twin projects to the DT Register (a register of digital twin projects – we’d be very happy to help to write these up)
• Join one of the Digital Twin Talks or the theme 3 webinar
• Let us know through the “Contact Us” option at the bottom of each page what other activities and content you would like to see in the portal in future
We hope you will enjoy getting stuck into some of the activities we have planned over the next few weeks and look forward to joining you in those discussions.
As always please let us know if you have ideas of things you would like to see on the Hub.
Samuel A Chorlton
Chair, DT Hub Steering Group
22nd April 2020
We’re delighted to announce that today marks the formal launch of the Centre for Digital Built Britain’s Digital Twin Hub.
As we reach this important milestone, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in shaping the DT Hub into what it is today . This is a key part of enabling our collective journey towards a National Digital Twin.
By tapping into your experience and ideas, we’ve already been able to come a long way in a short time. Now that we are starting to promote the DT Hub more widely, I thought it would be good to reflect on what we have done already and what is coming next.
I’m also reminded that, at a difficult time in the UK and around the world as we cope with the impact of COVID-19, digital platforms like this have an important role to play in fostering remote collaboration. We’ll try to make the DT Hub experience, from chatting on this portal to webinars, as flexible as possible to fit around your many commitments – and welcome your feedback on how we can continue to improve this.
What’s more, as our economies recover, digital twins, amongst a host of other innovations, can help us all to deliver more value from our infrastructure and the services that depend on it.
I hope you enjoy reading this update and wish you well in your personal and work endeavours over the coming days and weeks.
Where did we get to so far?
Discovery and scoping
We’ve been working with you to identify shared priorities. This has included discussion of opportunities, use cases and potential blockers and challenges.
Collectively, members see digital twins as central to their digital strategies with potential to transform strategic and operational decision making, improve productivity and deliver better services. At the same time, there is a recognition that collaboration to tackle shared challenges is essential in order to move on from pilots and start realising value from large scale implementation.
The initial thematic priorities (“themes”) emerging from these discussions reflect the desire you have expressed to make real progress on “foundational” concepts and thinking on digital twins:
Theme 1. Testing digital twin concepts: What are digital twins, what are the main building blocks for digital twins and how can we develop common understanding?
Theme 2. Digital twin competencies: What capabilities, skills and culture are needed to successfully implement digital twins?
Theme 3. Pathway to value: Building and sharing value cases; what is the roadmap to increased scale and greater value?
Our initial discussions with you generated lots more useful insight. This included a wide range of valuable use cases, from predictive through to “self-healing” assets, and from long term resource planning through to reducing carbon in mobility and logistics.
A dedicated digital space
We created this online portal as a dedicated digital space for DT Hub members – with a focus on sharing thinking related to the themes, sharing insights gained from digital twin projects and facilitating collaboration on the best way to move forward together.
It’s still early days, but we’re already seeing some interesting comments and discussions on the portal. The most popular post so far talked about ontology and taxonomy. While a link we shared on a digital twin for Notre Dame sparked a fascinating response, and then a follow up call, on the role of digital twins in conserving medieval buildings.
Today we are also beginning to test, in conjunction with key players in the supply chain, a separate space within the portal. This will include an area for joint discussion with existing DT Hub members (the “Open Forum”).
We’ve created “starter” content to help spark conversation for each of the themes (beginning with the first, “Testing digital twin concepts”). This brings in perspectives on topics including definitions and scope of digital twins, learning from other industries like aerospace and manufacturing, as well as digital twin use cases. You can access this from the Members Forum pages.
Discussions and webinars
A key role of the DT Hub is to facilitate discussions between members. As you may have seen, we’ve started to do that around the content for the themes. Some of you have also shared your own perspectives through this portal – thank you and please do keep commenting and adding your own posts and ideas.
So far, we have held webinars for the first two themes and plan to run more going forward. There was a great turnout for our theme 2, digital twin competencies, webinar on 24th March, with several of you offering to share your approaches on roles and skills needed to implement digital twins. This kind of practical insight is invaluable, and we plan to follow up on this conversation with you in the dedicated theme 2 area in the Hub.
We will also facilitate time-boxed discussions on specific aspects of each theme – and host these in the portal.
Next up are a series of time-boxed online discussions or “jams” on each of the themes. We’ll host some of these in the “Open Forum” and publicise them in advance so that you can find out how to take part.
We will also plan a webinar on the theme 3, looking at the pathway to value for digital twins, in April.
In addition, we will start to summarise some of the initial findings for each theme (beginning with theme 1) into an interim report with recommendations for the wider NDT programme.
How to get involved
You can continue to get involved and have your say on the focus of the DT Hub by:
Commenting on an existing post in for one of the Themes in the Members Forum
Starting a new topic for discussion in the Members Forum
Adding a summary of your digital twin projects to the DT Register (a register of digital twin projects – we’d be very happy to help to write these up)
Getting involved in one the online “jams” that we will host in the Open Forum area – coming soon
Let us know through the “Contact Us” option at the bottom of each page what other activities and content you would like to see in the portal in future
Thank you for joining us on the journey – I look forward to sharing further perspectives as we move forward together.
Samuel A Chorlton
Chair, DT Hub Steering Group
31st March 2020