BSI Flex 260 Built environment - Digital twins overview and general principles
This work began with the Standards Roadmap developed by the British Standards Institute to explore the existing standards landscape and define a route charting the subsequent standards opportunities. It will evolve with the development of standards within the BSI’s recommended framework for digital twins in the built environment.
We have chosen to test the BSI Flex approach to explore its applicability in the context of connected digital twins. It allows for iterative modification of the standard as common knowledge around digital twins develop, lessons are learned, and practical experience is gained across domains and geographies.
The consultation period for this Flex standard runs for six weeks until Monday 7 March 2022. Please see:
BSI Flex standard landing page
BSI Flex standard commenting page
We are pleased to announce the publication of the (Smart Infrastructure Index) Digital Maturity Benchmarking report.
Summary of responses
This year, we received 57 responses from the DT Hub community as a whole, this compares with 21 responses in 2020 from asset owners/operators. While increasing the reach of the survey, it also influenced the scoring.
The overall digital maturity score for the DT Hub community was 37.3 in 2020, decreasing to 33.6 in 2021. When looking at scores for asset owners / operators only, the decrease was evident, however far less significant, with the average score of 37.1 in 2021.
The overarching observation of this year’s Smart Infrastructure Index results is that on average, the digital maturity score of the DT Hub community has decreased. However, the overall digital maturity of the DT Hub community’s member organisations has not necessarily dropped. There are two key factors which lead to this conclusion: first, that the demographic of respondents has changed, with the survey being sent to vendors and academia as well as asset owners / operators; and second, that the DT Hub community last year was much smaller than it is now, with far fewer organisations, who likely fall into the category of ‘early adopters’ of digital twins and digital more generally.
Analysis and recommendations to improve digital maturity
This report compares results from the 2021 Digital Twin question set with those from 2020, arranging observations and insights into subcategories then continuing with an analysis of the core Smart Infrastructure Index questions. It concludes with specific recommendations to improve digital maturity scores across both these categories.
About the Smart Infrastructure Index
The Smart Infrastructure Index allows organisations to:
Better understand their maturity in relation to both digital transformation and digital twins
Compare and contrast DT Hub members with broader Index metrics
Draw comparisons with the wider community
Understand progress in the last year
Identify future areas of focus.
The DT Hub version of the Smart Infrastructure Index includes core questions that assess digital maturity across the asset lifecycle and an extension focused on digital twins in the context of the National Digital Twin programme (NDTp).
Download the report
Produce a benefits report and valuation for the National Digital Twin Climate Resilience Demonstrator (CReDo)
Calling valuation experts who like a challenge. How would you value data and resilience? Help us assess and quantify the benefits of CReDo and articulate the direct and indirect benefits of a CReDo-type approach to climate adaptation. Access the tender documents here: University of Cambridge Electronic Tendering Site - Project Manage - Tender (in-tendhost.co.uk)
Register interest through the link by 14 December and submit proposals by 4 January.
The Credo project started in April 2021 and is funded by UKRI until 31 March 2022. The benefits assessment covers both this period and the future value of Credo if it is continued and scaled up over the coming years. The scaling up aspect of Credo as part of the National Digital Twin should relate to the benefits realisation framework work being carried out by consultants appointed by the National Digital Twin programme under a separate contract also due to complete by 31 March 2022.
The benefits assessment should assess the value of the minimum viable product developed by the Credo technical team and the value of the findings and lessons learnt generated by Credo for the period April 2021 to March 2022 for both the participating asset owners and the wider DT Hub community. The benefits assessment should also explore the benefits of applying the IMF approach in this initial phase of Credo and in future phases of Credo, in terms of enabling asset owners to improve their levels of information management and in terms of developing a scalable, replicable approach to connected datasets and digital twins. Credo is developing future best practice in connecting datasets and digital twins and the valuation should seek to quantify the value of this future best practice.
We have seen over the past year how the COVID-19 response has accelerated the speed and scale of digital transformation. One of the most striking developments is the huge momentum towards the adoption of digital twins in the built environment.
It’s an important step forward as there is immense value for the UK in unlocking the potential of digital twins. However, it needs to be done in the right way - built on good values, as well as a shared foundation and framework to support the end goal of secure data exchange and interoperability. This is why the development of a set of standards is crucial and a key aim of the Construction Innovation Hub (the Hub). Working with the CDBB’s National Digital Twin Programme (NDTp) and the British Standards Institute (BSI), we’ve already made significant progress towards that goal and it’s exciting to be pioneers in establishing what will hopefully be a common language - guidelines that can be used, not just here in the UK, but globally.
Keeping pace with a rapidly evolving market
Standards are typically seen as offering clarity and consistency – but the methodology traditionally used to develop them does not necessarily offer agility as it can often take years. We are collaborating again with both the NDTp and the BSI to produce a visionary white paper exploring the benefits of developing standards that are more dynamic, flexible and agile.
The need for agility is driven by the pace of change in the digital sector - good practice needs to adapt at the same rate. Agile approaches to standardization are a way of remaining relevant and delivering value by acting as up-to-date reference points, even at times of great uncertainty and change.
Ensuring that standards can evolve and flex to facilitate and support innovation is a key driver for both the National Digital Twin programme and the Construction Innovation Hub. This White Paper and the development of the new Flex Standard is a really positive move for future disruption, which will drive the sector forward. Driving innovation and cutting edge practice including the development of digital twins helping to advance the construction sector and beyond.
We are not creating something completely untested – we can look at the evidence found in the software development industry, where agile methodologies and DevOps have delivered high quality working code, continuously at scale. This paper sets out how we can learn from such techniques and apply them to the world of standards.
Alongside the white paper we are running a pilot using BSI’s new agile standardisation service (BSI Flex) to demonstrate why agile standards are the right approach to use in the digital twin space. BSI Flex develops consensus-based good practice that adapts to keep pace with fast changing markets such as the digital twin market. Update We are looking forward to delivering the latest phase of this work, with consultation on the pilot standard beginning at the end October 2021.
An interesting example of how BSI Flex has been used recently was in developing Safe Working Guidelines with the onset of the pandemic. BSI published its first Safe Working Guidelines BSI Flex standard in May 2020, and Versions 2 and 3 followed in July and August. The first version was produced in just two weeks and the subsequent iterations benefitted from comments received during public consultation. The Guidelines were then used as the basis of a new international standard. It demonstrated that in such a fast-changing environment, where everyone was faced with unprecedented challenges, a flexible approach to creating a standard was the right approach.
The standards journey so far
The agile standards white paper is building on early standards groundwork that was undertaken within the Digital Twin (DT) Hub and BSI over the last year. It consisted of:
Research to produce a Landscape report on existing standards related to digital twins, including a gap analysis of areas which require further development
The publication of a Standards Roadmap for digital twins, which guides and recommends potential development of standards within the digital twin sector.
Dan Rossiter, Brand Ambassador to the National Digital Twin programme gives an overview on the standards groundwork that has taken place so far.
Each step of the way, consensus and collaboration have been essential and we’re enormously grateful for all the various stakeholders who have offered feedback and advice. We’re looking forward to sharing this white paper with you and again receiving all your comments. It’s a really exciting development and paves the way for the first standard for digital twins due to be published for open consultation later this summer. They will shape the future of our built environment, ensuring safety, quality and value.
Ron Lang, Chief Technical Officer, Construction Innovation Hub
Industries involved in the creation and management of built assets require effective, resilient and secure data and information sharing and aggregation. Much of this information is needed throughout the life of the asset and needs to be shared with a number of organisations. This is critical not only for asset management, but to support the services provided by the asset, as well as other considerations such as measuring the accumulating carbon in order that a net zero footprint can be achieved.
As a result, a formal mechanism to ensure that the right information can be made available at the right time, to the right people and that the quality of the information is known and understood, is required.
The Information Management Framework (IMF) is such a mechanism, the technical part of which comprises three main elements:
A Foundation Data Model
A Reference Data Library, and
An Integration Architecture.
The Foundation Data Model (or ontology) and Reference Data Library define a common structure and meaning for information that is shared between organisations within and across sectors and domains. Together, therefore, they enable the consistent sharing and integration of information. The Integration Architecture comprises a combination of technologies that enables this sharing of data between databases and the systems that use them.
The pragmatic and technical requirements for the Foundation Data Model have now been developed and consideration has been given as to whether any existing Top-Level Ontologies could be used as a suitable start-point.
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 Top-Level Ontologies in being 4-dimensionalist. These allow us to see individual objects as four-dimensional, having both spatial and temporal parts.
We are therefore proceeding to develop the Foundation Data Model seed from these 4-dimensionalist Top-Level Ontologies.
More detailed information on the requirements and the process followed is set out in the ‘Top-Level Ontology Survey’ and the attached ‘The Approach to Develop the Foundation Data Model for the Information Management Framework’ documents.
The Approach to Develop the FDM for the IMF.pdf Read more...
Strategic planning for life after Covid-19 brings an unprecedented opportunity to change the way we view and manage our infrastructure. Mark Enzer, from CDBB makes the case for putting people first.
The current pandemic has been a powerful but unforgiving teacher. It has demonstrated the importance of data and the power of digital models to derive insights from those data, to help us model outcomes, to guide the pulling of the levers to control “R” and to help us make better more-informed decisions. Covid’s disruptive impact across all sectors and societies has also revealed the interconnections and interdependencies between our economic and social infrastructure, highlighting the importance of creating resilient, sustainable and secure infrastructure systems upon which essential services depend.
So why change our view of infrastructure?
We have created an amazing, complex machine on which we wholly depend. Without it, our lives would be immeasurably worse. Society would not survive. That machine is infrastructure – our built environment. However, we don’t appreciate the relationship between infrastructure and our wellbeing. Therefore, we don’t set objectives in terms of outcomes for people and society.
And although we understand each part of the built environment, we do not manage it as a whole. Therefore, we don’t know how to address its systemic vulnerabilities or make it work better. If we envision, plan and manage infrastructure differently, we can make it what it should truly be: A platform for human flourishing.
Putting people first
The Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) and the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC) have recently published ‘Flourishing systems’, which makes the case for a people-focused systems-based vision for infrastructure. As we consider priorities following the Covid-19 outbreak, we have an opportunity to plot a new course that recognises the fundamental role of infrastructure in the social, economic and environmental outcomes that determine the quality of people’s lives. To do this, we must see infrastructure as a complex, interconnected system of systems that must deliver continuous service to society. Infrastructure is so much more than just a series of construction projects.
Adopting a system-of-systems approach makes it possible to address the great systemic challenges such as achieving net-zero carbon emissions, improving resilience and preparing for a circular economy. It also unlocks the potential of digital transformation across the built environment.
How digitalisation delivers value
With the ongoing digital transformation of the infrastructure industry, we have the opportunity to deliver huge benefit for people – for whom infrastructure ultimately exists. Digital transformation encompasses how we function as organisations, how we deliver new assets and how we operate, maintain and use existing assets. Bringing digital and physical assets together creates cyber-physical systems – smart infrastructure. Effectively, this is applying the fourth industrial revolution to infrastructure. Making better use of asset and systems data is central to this vision because better analysis of better data enables better decisions, producing better outcomes, which is the essential promise of the information age.
As part of this, we must recognise digital assets, such as data, information, algorithms and digital twins, as genuine ‘assets’, which have value and must be managed effectively and securely. In time, as data and digital assets become valued, data itself will be seen as infrastructure.
We are now at a point where the vision for effective digitalisation of the whole of the built environment is within reach.
Enabling secure, resilient data sharing
Managing complex interconnected systems requires the appropriate tools. CDBB’s National Digital Twin programme sets out a structured approach for effective information management across the system as a whole. This approach is informed by ‘The Gemini Principles’ and is driven by the NIC’s ‘data for the public good’ report. The recent paper ‘Pathway Towards an Information Management Framework’ suggests an approach for the development of an Information Management Framework to enable secure, resilient data sharing across the built environment. It is this that will enable data connections between digital twins, which is at the heart of the concept of the ‘National Digital Twin’ – an ecosystem of connected digital twins.
All systems go
Taking a systems-based approach to our infrastructure will improve our ability to deliver desirable outcomes for people and society – around accessibility, inclusion, empowerment, resilience and wellbeing – not just for now but for generations to come. It will also better equip us to address the urgent global systemic challenge of climate change. It’s time to see infrastructure differently – as a system of systems that provides a platform for human flourishing.
The 2020 DT Hub extension to the Smart Infrastructure Index survey explored organisational maturity towards digital twins and the National Digital Twin programme. It was completed by 18% of eligible DT Hub members. Analysis of the response provides insight into; maturity within the DT Hub, relationships between organisational maturity indicators and digital twin maturity and where there may be risks and opportunities for advancing digital twin maturity within the Built Environment.
Watch Sam Chorlton and Tom Hughes' interview on the survey results and what it means to the DT Hub.
As everyone who works within the built environment sector knows, the essential starting point for any successful construction project is the establishment of a solid foundation. With that in mind the Digital Twin Hub is thrilled to announce the publication of its first ever digital twin foundation guide: Digital Twins for the Built Environment.
The purpose of this guide is not to be exhaustive but to document, at a high level, knowledge and examples of Digital Twin use cases that have been shared through the development of the DT Hub and engagement with our early members.
It is hoped that by sharing this knowledge all members of the DT Hub will benefit from a common understanding of foundational concepts and the ‘How, What and Why’ of Digital Twins and that this shared knowledge will enable more meaningful discussions within the DT Hub.
To provide a relatable structure we have broken down the concepts into the different phases of the asset lifecycle. This should provide a greater sense of clarity of how Digital Twins can be applied to support real business problems against tangible examples.
The Role of the Community
The creation of this guide has demonstrated that there is complexity in distilling foundational concepts. For this publication we have focused on what we hope will benefit the community. To maximise the value we must therefore develop, refine and iterate this guide in partnership with the members.
We actively encourage the community to provide feedback, both positive and negative in nature. More importantly than this, we hope that as part of this feedback process the community will be able to suggest potential alterations or amendments to continue increasing the value offering of the document.
Historically, standards have often been (falsely!) perceived as a contradiction to innovation. In fact, standards have often played a pivotal role in the adoption of new innovations. This is because those standards established a framework which defined aspects such as common vocabularies, essential characteristics and good practice. Once such a framework had been established, products and services that support the framework were developed.
What happened with Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a great example of this. After developing the PAS 1192 series, UK competencies around BIM were catalysed; allowing the UK to (and continue to) export its leadership globally. To facilitate the same level of adoption for digital twins, a similar framework is needed.
With work already underway to develop standards relating to digital twins at ISO, a roadmap for digital twins within the built environment is needed to ensure that such standards are developed in a holistic manner; formalizing the right content while allowing the sector to compete within these constraints.
To that end, BSI have worked with CDBB to produce a digital twins standards roadmap for the built environment. This roadmap considers what specific digital twin standard are needed as well as what supporting standards need to be produced which relate to the wider use of digital within the built environment. The roadmap was developed through the analysis of around 12,540 standards across a myriad of sectors. The Standards roadmap is attached below.
Comments and contributions to the roadmap, due to be updated periodically, are welcomed. Please feel free to comment below, email DTHub@cdbb.cam.ac.uk.
HUB Version_DT Standards Roadmap_November 2020 (3).pdf
The Centre for Digital Built Britain’s National Digital Twin programme has launched an open consultation seeking feedback on the proposed approach to the development of an Information Management Framework for the built environment.
A new report, The Pathway Towards an Information Management Framework: A Commons for a Digital Built Britain, sets out the technical approach for the development of an Information Management Framework (IMF) to enable secure, resilient data sharing across the built environment. The publication of the report by CDBB, in partnership with the Construction Innovation Hub, is a critical milestone towards a National Digital Twin.
On the publication, Mark Enzer, Head of the National Digital Twin Programme said, “I would really like to thank everyone who has come together over the past 18 months to help develop this proposed pathway towards an Information Management Framework. It represents a huge amount of work and exemplifies the collaborative approach that will be needed as we seek to enable an ecosystem of connected digital twins – the National Digital Twin.
“The challenge is sizeable, but the promise is huge: better outcomes coming from better decisions based on better connected data. And, working with industry, academia and Government all pulling together we can deliver it. So, I’d urge you to join with us on this journey and help us build consensus on the way forward.”
The way that digital twins are connected is important to ensuring security and improving the resilience of assets and systems. The goal of the IMF is to establish a common language by which digital twins of the built and natural environment can communicate securely and effectively to support improved decision taking by those operating, maintaining and using built assets and the services they provide to society. Its development by CDBB was recommended by the National Infrastructure Commission in 2017’s Data for the Public Good report and HM Government’s Construction Sector Deal.
As industry leaders, DT Hub members involved in planning, creating and managing the built environment are invited to provide feedback on the report here.
The consultation questions are:
It has been proposed that the Information Management Framework (IMF) should essentially consist of a Foundation Data Model (FDM), a Reference Data Library (RDL) and an Integration Architecture (IA). Do you agree with this overall framework? In your view, are there any key elements missing from this framework?
In your view, is the proposed approach to the IMF consistent with the Gemini Principles? Are there any inconsistencies that should be addressed?
Section 3.4 lists the models and protocols that would form part of the IMF. Is there anything that you would like to suggest to improve this list?
Section 3.5 describes key concepts of a Foundation Data Model. Is there anything that you would like to suggest to improve this description?
Section 3.6 describes key concepts of the Reference Data Library. Is there anything that you would like to suggest to improve this description?
Section 3.7 describes key concepts of an Integration Architecture. Is there anything that you would like to suggest to improve this description?
Section 4 proposes a pathway for developing the IMF. Do you agree with the proposed overall approach? In your view, are there any key tasks missing from this pathway? Would you suggest any improvements to the order in which the tasks are undertaken to develop the IMF?
What do you see as the barriers to connecting digital twins within organisations and between different organisations/sectors? How can these barriers be overcome?
In your experience what are the reasons why organisations invest in the creation of digital twins? Why would they invest in connecting digital twins?
Do you have any other comments on the proposed approach to developing the information management framework?
What opportunities do you see arising in your business from being able to connect Digital Twins and share and integrate data across them?
The consultation on the IMF is open until 31 August and responses can be submitted here.
Read a summary of the report here.