Benefits of a national digital twin

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Benefits of a National Digital Twin

Organisations currently building digital twins, or in the process of planning to do so, are a valuable part of the DT Hub community. We recognise that these twins are being created for a variety of reasons and have business cases to support them.

The vision for the National Digital Twin programme (NDTp) is connected digital twins and we are working to understand the benefits and the means of realising those benefits.

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A NATION OF DIGITAL TWINS AND A NATIONAL DIGITAL TWIN?

Isolated digital twins exist as a replica of an asset with a symbiotic relationship to the real thing. Enterprises are constructing these isolated twins and creating value from increased efficiencies, higher customer satisfaction and safer colleagues. The NTDp believes that there are network effects from connecting isolated twins which offer benefits to society, the economy, business and the environment. Eventually, connected twins could form a national digital twin, but we need to answer the question ‘how much better are connected twins and who for?’ in order to design the connective tissue. 

A LOGIC MODEL TO QUANTIFY THE SHARING OF BENEFITS

The Centre for Digital Built Britain has developed a framework, an organised and systematic way of approaching the vast question of the nature and extent of the national digital twin’s potential from the perspective of participating stakeholders. The model is represented in three steps.

In the absence of a digital twin, a stakeholder completes an activity in order to deliver a function from which that stakeholder derives benefit. For example, a council (the stakeholder) discharges the function of maintaining a road surface in order to deliver the statutory function of moving goods and people around the local area.

Additionally, the cog mechanism describes a broadband provider in their operational activity on the same road of delivering digital connectivity to their customers.Stakeholders are working with their own, isolated, digital twins. So, the local authority is able to schedule the maintenance at a time of year when there is least disruption to the local population which access services by using the road. Similarly, the broadband supplier is able to train their staff in a simulated environment in order to increase their operational efficiency.

Finally, the two bodies connect their digital twins in order to deliver both enhanced benefits for themselves but also additional stakeholders.  The council and the contractor can collaborate and reach agreement on a range of trade-offs concerning the timing and nature of the maintenance and installation operations. The road is maintained in a way which maximises both the movement of goods and people but also connectivity for the local population. In addition, other subsurface work may be carried out at the same time and local residents benefit from more predictable and even less carbon intensive interventions.

Scaling up

The basic cog model, scaled up at industry or national scale can give us insight into the influence of different stakeholders. An asset has relevance and importance not just for the asset owners but also for those that supply energy to it and guard against its damage through flood. Teasing out and articulating all these relationships enable us to create a conceptual model of how these connections work, the benefits from making them and the barriers to achieving the benefits.