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  1. To asset owners and managers, understanding how people move through and use the built environment is a high priority, enabling better, more user-focused decisions. However, many of the methods for getting these insights can feel invasive to users. The latest output from Digital Twin Journeys looks at how a researcher at the University of Cambridge has solved this problem by teaching a computer to see. Watch the video to learn more. Working from the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, Matthew Danish is developing an innovative, low-cost sensor that tracks the movement of people through the built environment. DeepDish is based on open-source software and low-cost hardware, including a webcam and a Raspberry Pi. Using Machine Learning, Matthew has previously taught DeepDish to recognise pedestrians and track their journeys through the space, and then began training them to distinguish pedestrians from Cambridge’s many cyclists. One of the key innovations in Matthew’s technique is that no images of people are actually stored or processed outside of the camera. Instead, it is programmed to count and track people without capturing any identifying information or images. This means that DeepDish can map the paths of individuals using different mobility modes through space, without violating anyone’s privacy. Matthew’s digital twin journey teaches us that technological solutions need not be expensive to tick multiple boxes, and a security- and privacy-minded approach to asset sensing can still deliver useful insights. To find out more about DeepDish, read about it here. This research forms part of the Centre for Digital Built Britain’s (CDBB) work at the University of Cambridge. It was enabled by the Construction Innovation Hub, of which CDBB is a core partner, and funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).
  2. Motion sensors, CO₂ sensors and the like are considered to be benign forms of monitoring, since they don’t capture images or personal data about us as we move through the buildings we visit. Or at least, that’s what we want to believe. Guest blogger Professor Matthew Chalmers (University of Glasgow) helped develop a mobile game called About Us as part of the CDBB funded Project OAK. The game takes players through a mission using information from building sensors to help them achieve their aims — with a twist at the end. He writes about why we all need to engage with the ethics of data collection in smart built environments. Mobile games are more than just entertainment. They can also teach powerful lessons by giving the player the ability to make decisions, and then showing them the consequences of those decisions. About Us features a simulated twin of a building in Cambridge, with strategically placed CO₂ sensors in public spaces (such as corridors), and raises ethical questions about the Internet of Things (IoT) in buildings. The premise of the game is simple. While you complete a series of tasks around the building, you must avoid the characters who you don’t want to interact with (as they will lower your game score), and you should contact your helpers — characters who will boost your score. You can view a map of the building, and plan your avatar’s route to accomplish your tasks, based on which route you think is safest. On the map, you can watch the building’s sensors being triggered. By combining this anonymous sensor data with map details of which offices are located where, you can gather intelligence about the movements of particular characters. In this way, you can find your helpers and avoid annoying interactions. If you’ve avoided the bad characters and interacted with the good characters while completing your tasks, you win the game. However, a twist comes after you have finished: the game shows you how much could be inferred about your game character, from the exact same sensors that you had been using to make inferences about other characters. Every task in the game exposes some sensitive data about the player’s avatar, and reinforces the player’s uncomfortable realisation that they have exploited apparently neutral data to find and avoid others. What does this tell us about the ethics of digital twins? Our journeys through the built environment can reveal more than we intend them to, e.g. our movements, our routines, where we congregate, and where we go to avoid others. All this information could inadvertently be revealed by a building digital twin, even though the data used seems (at first glance) to be anonymous and impersonal. The game used CO₂ levels as an example of apparently impersonal data that, when combined with other information (local knowledge in this case), becomes more personal. More generally, data might be low risk when isolated within its originating context, but risk levels are higher given that data can be combined with other systems and other (possibly non-digital) forms of information. The Gemini Principles set out the need for digital twins to be ethical and secure, but About Us demonstrates that this can be surprisingly difficult to ensure. Collecting data through digital twins provides aggregate insights — that’s why they’re so useful — but it also creates risks that need ongoing governance. It’s vitally important that citizens understand the double-edged problem of digital twins, so that citizens are more able to advocate for how they want the technology to be used, and not used, and for how governance should be implemented. Gamification is now a well-established technique for understanding and changing user attitudes toward digital technology. About Us was designed to create a safe but challenging environment, in which players can explore an example of data that could be collected in distributed computing environments, the uses to which such data can be put, and the intelligence that can be gathered from resulting inferences. The ultimate purpose of Project OAK is to enable anyone concerned with how data is managed (e.g., data processors, data subjects, governance bodies) to build appropriate levels of trust in the data and in its processing. Only if we recognise the ethical and legal issues represented by digital twins can we start to give meaningful answers to questions about what good system design and good system governance look like in this domain. Information about this project is available on their GitHub page. This research forms part of the Centre for Digital Built Britain’s (CDBB) work at the University of Cambridge. It was enabled by the Construction Innovation Hub, of which CDBB is a core partner, and funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). To join the conversation with others who are on their own digital twin journeys, join the Digital Twin Hub.
  3. Version Report Series: No. 2019.1

    21 downloads

    The report containing "A manifesto for sharing engineering data" "The Open Data Institute (ODI) and Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s Manifesto for sharing engineering data for the public good is intended to build alignment and a shared vision across engineering programmes and sectors. The manifesto recognises the need for leadership from across the sector, and sets out recommendations for governments, regulators, industry bodies and the private sector." - Quote from the report (report download link: http://info.lrfoundation.org.uk/l/12702/2019-10-08/81jxls/12702/232385/LRF_ODI_Insight_report_on_sharing_engineering_data_for_web.pdf ) The manifesto has been endorsed by: Blue Marine Foundation; the Health and Safety Executive; Energy Systems Catapult; Structural-Safety; the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering; Assuring Autonomy International Programme; Tideway; CRA Risk Analysis; Bryden Wood; the Royal Academy of Engineering; Sowen Strategy Consulting; Colouring London; Mott MacDonald; the Centre for Digital Built Britain; Arup; and The Alan Turing Institute. (related link on ODI website: A manifesto for sharing engineering data https://theodi.org/article/engineering-data-for-the-public-good-a-manifesto/) Source containing download link "Top engineering organisations sign data manifesto to improve safety" https://www.lrfoundation.org.uk/en/news/insight-report-on-data/, following description are quoted from the Lloyd’s Register Foundation website: "The safety of our built infrastructure, including bridges, ports and power stations, and the people that use them has been given a boost today by the launch of a new manifesto and report aimed at the engineering sector, encouraging organisations and companies to publish, use and share data. The manifesto for sharing engineering data, has been published today by the Open Data Institute (ODI) and Lloyd’s Register Foundation. The manifesto has been endorsed by engineering firms including Mott MacDonald and Tideway, as well as the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Health and Safety Executive, and others are urged to join the movement here. It identifies a set of principles and recommendations to help improve safety by increasing access to data and driving innovation in the engineering sector, including: Government and the private sector should share and open datasets to increase access to data that will drive safety innovation and support research. Professional bodies and individual organisations should develop and promote codes of practice that will guide the ethical use of data, and ensure that the choices made about what data is collected and how it is used should not be unjust, discriminatory or deceptive. Funders should invest in programmes that will enable collaboration across the private sector, startups and researchers, to solve specific challenges through the better use of data. The manifesto is part of the new Insight report on sharing engineering data, which identifies the current barriers to sharing data about our built environment, such as concerns over the risks of data sharing (e.g. dealing with personal data), a lack of frameworks and standards for data and uncertainty around the value of sharing data."
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