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Centre for Digital Built Britain

 
Samuel Chorlton

Ahead of the National Digital Twin Day event that is part of the Centre for Digital Built Britain’s CDBB Week 2019, Samuel Chorlton, chair of CDBB’s Digital Twin Hub Steering Group and Project and Technical Lead for the Data & Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure (DAFNI), calls for a collaborative and applied approach in the journey towards a National Digital Twin.

With an aspiration of being able to provide the guidance, framework and technologies to support creation of the first National Digital Twin by the end of 2022, it is essential that process to achieve this goal is both efficient and effective. To meet these demands the Digital Twin Hub (DT Hub) was established earlier this year to provide access to a pioneering community (see Note 1) that can operate as a collective, jointly motivated to accelerate the development and adoption of digital twins in anticipation of forecasted benefits.

With an expectation of the longer-term benefits from digital twins providing complex systems with pre-emptive, reactive and self-optimising capabilities, there is increasing pressure to achieve these benefits within highly constrained time windows. Consequently, the National Digital Twin initiative must ensure these can be guided in a manner that positively supports the desired outcomes and ambitions.

The most effective method by which to achieve this is through working collaboratively with the community in a capacity that supports, facilitates and maximises the potential opportunity presented. The National Digital Twin will ultimately only be successful if there is a corpus of functioning digital twins that can be connected to create an eco-system of digital twins.

In direct support of this aim, the DT Hub has been conducting a series of interviews with the initial members to understand in more detail the aspirations, current state and challenges as part of their digital twin journey. This focus is an essential step prior to the publication of any specific guidance to ensure the usefulness of this opportunity is maximised. Following on from this exercise, the DT Hub is eliciting a defined set of business values taking account of increased complexity and data requirements. This set of business values will then be utilised to support further DT Hub membership by more comprehensively validating their appropriateness for new affiliates.

Completion of this activity will provide concrete evidence to the wider Digital Framework Task Group’s (DFTG’s) efforts facilitating the creation of the National Digital Twin. The DFTG will be able to exploit this information to progress and calibrate their existing work and thinking while reflecting the activities of the target community. The ability for the DFTG to then feed their progress back to the DT Hub community will then provide members with access to cutting-edge work within the digital twin arena, allowing them to remain at the forefront of development.

Ensuring these organisations adopt the methods and techniques disseminated from the DFTG is however not as simple as declaring the selected manner, and must be performed such that there is clear demonstration of the wider benefits that can be achieved in lieu of accepting a potential short-term increase in complexity. This will become particularly tangible as demonstrable pilots are delivered from within the DT Hub’s membership.

To ensure the approach taken from within the DT Hub and the wider DFTG has as wide a reach of applicability as possible, the DT Hub will be running a number of events over the course of the next year to enable participation from industry, government, suppliers and academia. Please register your interest on our mailing list by emailing here (DTHub@cdbb.cam.ac.uk) to receive ongoing updates on activities.

 

Note 1: Preliminary representation from across water, transport and power sectors with the membership and extent of representation expected to grow.

 

CDBB’s National Digital Twin Day is on Monday 9 September at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) HQ, London, and is the first event of CDBB Week 2019. Following a keynote address by Sarah Hayes, Project Director, Regulation at National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), and Mark Enzer, Chair CDBB’s DFTG, Samuel Chorlton will present on the launch of the Digital Twin Hub in the morning session. In the afternoon a networking ‘town square’ will bring together digital twin owners and suppliers, including from the start-up and the small-to-medium enterprise (SME) DT community, to share experience and insight. See full details and book here.