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NDTp March 2022 editorial  – New horizons

Interview with Tom Hughes and Peter El Hajj 


As the DT Hub begins its transition to the Connected Places Catapult (CPC), @Tom HughesDT Hub Lead, and @Peter El HajjNDTp Programme Lead, provide an update on all the latest activities and discuss what’s next for the DT Hub. They also reflect on the programme’s achievements over the past three years and their personal highlights. 


What can we be looking out for in the next few weeks? 

Tom: On the DT Hub side, we are focusing on the completion of our Annual Benchmark report which is a retrospective look at the past 12 months and what we have achieved, as well as setting the stage for what’s next. Simon Evans, Digital Energy Lead at Arup, led a community workshop to ensure that we have input from our members and it’s always invaluable to have that community contribution.  

The other big area of focus is the publication of the Digital Twin Roadblocks report. It brings together our findings from a series of workshops on digital twin blockers and provides ideas on how to address them.  

We’ve also got a series of Hub Insight interviews, with Ali Nichols – one of the Co-Chairs of the DT Hub Community Council – kicking us off, and finishing with Mark Enzer, Director of CDBB. So, plenty still happening! 

Peter: I also want to highlight some key documents coming out as part of the Information Management Framework: Managing Shared Data, Towards Information Management Maturity, Thin-Slice Approach and Information Quality Basics. We’re had a great presentation by Ian Bailey on the Integration Architecture at a recent Gemini call. And one last thing to look out for will be our Theory of Change’ and ‘Benefits Realisation Framework’ reports – both are really important for the programme. 


Who will be hosting the DT Hub going forward? 

Peter: Some really great news on that front is that the DT Hub will transition from its current home at the CDBB to an Industry/Catapult partnership housed at the Connected Places Catapult (CPC). CPC and the wider Catapult Network have been involved from the early days on the programme and shaped a lot of our thinking and been big supporters throughout.  

Tom: It’s fantastic that CPC have taken on the role of host to the DT Hub. It’s so valuable to have the voice of industry which we have had through the process. Alongside Connected Places there is also the wider network of catapults: Energy Systems Catapult, Advanced Manufacturing Catapult, and the Digital Catapult – I probably couldn’t think of a better host and group of stakeholders for the Hub to flourish.  


What do you think have been the biggest achievements of the NDTp? 

Peter: I think one of them is definitely creating this momentum that is focused on outcomes rather than building a new technology. I think shifting the focus from making it a technical issue to making it a socio-technical programme that requires collaboration – that is a key achievement. I also think it’s been the identification of the requirements at a national level to enable effective information management and an ecosystem of connected digital twins. So, answering the question: ‘what are the components to that?’ We didn’t know this three years ago, but now we have a much more comprehensive idea.  

Tom: Yes, then the DT Hub was a line item on the roadmap for the National Digital Twin and the opportunity to work with six founding member organisations. We have seen it develop and grow to become a community that is connecting regularly with thousands of organisations. It’s been really exciting to be a part of. It is knowing the knowledge sharing that takes place and watching people support each other that are the real milestones for the community platform. We’re taking more of an enabling role as people share posts and add to discussions that are important to them. That’s a huge thing.  

Peter: I also think it’s that the DT Hub has become the place where national and international initiatives can come to connect, and those outputs shared. And I am aware of other countries setting up digital centres following the DT Hub model – it’s great that we offer a blueprint for others to use.  


What has been a personal highlight?  

Peter:  I received an award on behalf of CDBB at the Royal Society and later found out it was the same award that Tim Berners-Lee had received! Although it wasn’t personal as such – I was collecting it for CDBB, it still felt like a special moment.  

Tom: There are a few! One of them was when we did held our open day and I think being able to step back and present all the projects we had worked on really brought home all that we had achieved.   

Peter: It was also at that open day that the member numbers of the DT Hub went over 3,000 which felt really significant. 

Tom: Another highlight was our Christmas get together in 2019. It was so nice to meet with such a fantastic group of clever, passionate people. And it was the same whenever we got together, whether with the Hub team, or a steering group, or the digital framework task group, every time it was such an enjoyable event.  

Peter: Absolutely, working with such a great bunch of people has been a highlight and as we look forward to our next phase we want to thank everyone for all their hard work.  

Tom: And likewise, a huge thank you from me.  



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