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Centre for Digital Built Britain

 

A year on from the publication of the Gemini Principles, Alexandra Bolton, Executive Director of CDBB, one of the partners in the Transforming Construction’s Construction Innovation Hub, reflects on the progress of the National Digital Twin Programme.

Today, 6th December, marks exactly one year since the publication of the Gemini Principles. The Gemini Principles are intended to provide a ‘conscience’ underpinning the information management framework that enables the National Digital Twin (NDT) and thereby unlocks the improved outcomes we intend this work to deliver. Since their publication, CDBB’s Digital Framework Task Group, chaired by Mark Enzer, has welcomed feedback and comments. This valuable input has been incorporated into our thoughts and future strategy as we progress the NDT Programme. As part of our ‘Gemini Principles one year on’ campaign we would like to learn more from you as to how the Gemini Principles have influenced thinking and changed practices – please engage with our social media channels to join in the conversation: #GPs1YearOn

The Roadmap for delivering the information management framework for the built environment (the ‘Framework’) was published in April. This was published as an interactive PDF and an old-fashioned folding map and showed the series of pathways and building blocks for how we will deliver the NDT. Even before the Roadmap was published, we were working on delivering these steps and, since then, our progress has accelerated. The Roadmap was split into five workstreams; Approach, Governance, Commons, Enablers and Change. Initially included as a building block, the Digital Twin Hub (DT Hub) has since emerged as needing to be a full workstream in its own right. I provide an update on each of these below, but please do visit our website and sign up for our newsletter to make sure you are kept up to date with the latest information.

Approach: The Approach stream sets up coordinated and aligned activity across the whole NDT programme. I am thrilled that Miranda Sharp from Ordnance Survey is leading this work which will deliver the Framework and the benefits of effective information management across the built environment and interfaces with the natural environment. This workstream has established a working group, defined the scope of the framework and will soon be sharing examples of the human flourishing we are intending the NDT to achieve.

Governance: The Governance stream will establish the structures and processes for managing the framework through three phases of development, adoption and (sector specific) ongoing oversight and is led by Paul Campion from TRL. We recently issued a tender to deliver some of this work and hope to announce the successful bidder in due course. The Governance stream is also delivering a series of sector-specific workshops aimed at understanding the stakeholders, constraints, risks and opportunities that we need to consider when developing the framework.

Commons: The Commons Stream Lead is James Hetherington of the Alan Turing Institute and a working group has been established. This workstream is developing the necessary support for effective information management via guidance, specifications and standards​. Taking a “minimum viable” approach to the development of national-level framework resource for effective information management in the built environment​.

Enablers: The Enablers stream will identify and address the relevant potential blockers to the NDT and will be delivered by the consultancy Turner Harris, led by James Harris. Please see James’ recent blog to understand his ambitions for the programme and how he intends to tackle some of the challenges ahead.  

Change: The Change stream is co-led by Amelia Burnett and Nicola Pearson both from CDBB. It seeks to facilitate adoption of the framework across the whole ecosystem of the built environment. The working group has done some initial stakeholder engagement and is undertaking a comprehensive stakeholder mapping process to inform change management and communication plans. This work was initiated at National Digital Twin Day, held in partnership with ICE in September.

DT Hub: The DT Hub was launched at National Digital Twin Day and will provide a learning and best practice sharing community for those who are testing and developing digital twins within the built environment. Samuel Chorlton chairs the DT Hub and has established a steering group and identified the phases of operation – from testing and exploring with a small cohort of founder members, to opening up the DT Hub to the wider community and beyond. CDBB has appointed BSI to deliver the DT Hub web platform and this will be launched early next year. Last week the DT Hub held its DT Hub founder members breakfast and this week was our first DT suppliers event. Keep up to date with the DT Hub via its monthly blog.

I’m sure you’ll have heard a CDBB representative presenting the schema ‘design, build, operate, integrate’ – and the National Digital Twin is a key part to delivering this vision of a digital built Britain. CDBB works across this lifecycle, for example working with the UK BIM Alliance and BSI on the UK BIM Framework to provide the BIM community with the standards and guidance it needs to adopt better information management. The information management framework for the built environment builds upon the foundations of BIM, but goes one step further to consider the potential of creating an ecosystem of connected digital twins – and all the underlying work we need to do to achieve this bold vision. As we move to begin considering ‘operate’ at the start of the design process (see Government Soft Landings, we also need to think about how we can ‘integrate’ and connect information securely to unlock the benefits.

I am proud of the progress of the National Digital Twin Programme so far. In particular it is heartening to see how the community has joined us by providing valuable feedback and much-appreciated support. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have helped us so far, and I welcome those who haven’t yet to engage with us – we cannot do this alone.

CDBB as part of the Construction Innovation Hub is working to deliver real change and focussed on providing the benefits to society, I am glad to be able to help lead this vital work.