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Centre for Digital Built Britain completed its five-year mission and closed its doors at the end of September 2022

This website remains as a legacy of the achievements of our five-year foundational journey towards a digital built Britain
Blog: DT Hub Steering Group Chair - Samuel Chorlton

Following the publication of the Digital Framework Task Group (DFTG) Roadmap, the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) is launching the Digital Twin Hub (DT Hub), a collaborative and learning community for those who own or develop Digital Twins. Samuel Chorlton, lead for the Data and Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure (DAFNI) and Chair of the Steering Group that will establish the DT Hub, sets out some of the challenges and opportunities.

I am delighted to be leading the Digital Twin Hub (DT Hub) Steering Group and looking forward to working collaboratively across industry, academia and the public sector to progress the adoption and utilisation of Digital Twins. The DT Hub will be a collaborative web-enabled community for those who own or are developing digital twins within the built environment. The Hub is intended to ensure that knowledge and experience is shared to maximise learning increase the rate of uptake. 

As lead for the creation of the Data & Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure (DAFNI), a global first for enabling cross-sectoral infrastructure research in support of academia, industry and government and based at the Science Technologies and Facilities Council (STFC), I am a technical architect and data visualisation specialist. My experience spans the defence and cyber sectors, specialising in the design and development of platforms to support large-scale and heterogenous data analysis. My team is currently working with Oxfordshire County Council to pioneer use of DAFNI to enhance city and county-wide infrastructure investment and management. 

The DAFNI facility provides a transformative platform for infrastructure systems analysis revolutionising the UK's ability to adapt to a changing climate and technological landscape. It comprises a powerful computer system capable of radically transforming design, planning and operational performance of the UK’s infrastructure, providing access to massive secure data storage, fast computer performance and the next generation in systems visualisation. DAFNI is one of the four major delivery strands within a £120 million investment from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) into the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure & Cities which aims to achieve a step-change in the nation’s approach to infrastructure investment.

As DAFNI lead I have identified opportunities to standardise our approaches within the UK and continue to cement our country’s position as a global leader and innovator in the domain. To achieve this, the DAFNI facility has been created to provide the computational resource and tooling necessary to overcome a number of the extant technical challenges. These, however, do not address some of the historical cultural perceptions within organisations that can prohibit the adoption of emerging techniques, such as Digital Twins. In early discussions with Mark Enzer, chair of the DFTG, and Alexandra Bolton, Executive Director of CDBB, we identified DAFNI as a possible mechanism through which to demonstrate the business value in overcoming a number of these hurdles. My technical background and personal interests in seeing this industry strive was a key factor in accepting and undertaking the position as lead of the Digital Twin Hub Steering Group (DTHubSG).

There is increasing interest in Digital Twins, resulting from industry trends and progress made through the publication of the Gemini Principles, and there is a real sense of importance around enabling the UK to leverage the potential improvements in responsiveness, proactiveness and effectiveness that our infrastructure can hope to achieve.

To ensure this happens in a seamless and progressive manner, it is essential that a survey of what is currently possible is conducted – and a strategy and roadmap are created.

This becomes increasingly important when operating within such a broad sector such as national infrastructure where terminology and applications can vary greatly across the specific areas composed within. Providing a mechanism that will allow the outputs to be joined up and made relevant across disciplines is one of the key objectives for the DTHubSG to achieve. 

Digital Twins facilitate a new way to understand the environment within which we are operating, and to better identify the effect that decisions may have before undertaking significant investment. The DTHubSG is there to help comprehend how Digital Twins can achieve this and what measures need to be put in place to help accommodate adoption – this may be through identifying opportunities for creation of standards or best practice policies. 

When wide adoption of a new technique looks to happen there can often be a tendency to go down the route of having a solution looking for a problem. Within the DTHubSG we will be looking to ensure adoption happens in a manner where benefits are clearly identified in advance and the community is supported in understanding how to leverage and achieve these benefits. This process cannot be hurried; it will take time to achieve the level of details and success that may well ultimately be viable but this will ensure continued iterative progress with fewer failures along the road. 

The DTHubSG is collaborative and I look forward to working with you in the future to achieve our goal. Please do get in touch at and connect to CDBB to be kept informed about all the DTHubSG developments as they happen.