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.