Digital Twin Hub > Articles & Publications > NDTp Editorial: A Year of Building Foundations, December 2020

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. 

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