skip to content

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

Setting a pathway to better information management

The Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) Digital Framework Task Group (DFTG) has set out a pathway to better information management and guidance on digital twin adoption. The overarching purpose of the DFTG is to steer and guide the successful development and adoption of the Information Management Framework for the Built Environment. Information management is critical to digital twin adoption and realising the benefits from digital twins across the built environment and natural environment.

Data infrastructures, the backbone to information management

1Spatial is a global solutions provider, working with public sector, transport and utilities organisations to both evolve and transform their information management and specifically geospatial information management. The backbone to information management is data infrastructure. Data infrastructures typically consist of data assets, the organisations that operate and maintain them and tools and processes for using and managing the data. This means data infrastructures for collecting, managing and sharing data, providing a foundation to help organisations adopt digital twins and gain insights from data in ways that people can understand and trust. Having strong data infrastructures will only become more vital as our populations grow and our economies and societies become ever more reliant on getting value from data to meet people’s needs.

Geospatial data infrastructures

It has been repeatedly stated that as much as 80% of all information held by the public sector and business may be geospatially referenced. The UK already has some of the best geospatial information management in the world. The UK has led the world in showing how opening up geospatial data benefits our built environment economically, environmentally and socially. “Geospatial” data infrastructures are the backbone to geospatial information management about the built environment. Geospatial data infrastructures power geospatial readiness, a platform for information and insight and then actionable knowledge and value, using a combination of people, processes and technologies.

In the UK there are open, public and commercial and community led geospatial data infrastructures for the built environment, for example:

  • Open – OpenStreetMap
  • Public – Ordnance Survey Great Britain, HM Land Registry, GeoPlace, Greater London Authority
  • Commercial – Network Rail

As a result of working with public sector, transport and utilities organisations, 1Spatial believes that the UK needs to continue investing in geospatial data infrastructures for information management across the built environment, providing a pathway to digital twin adoption. 1Spatial are helping organisations across the UK and globally to evolve their geospatial data infrastructures for creating smarter data and information for digital twin adoption.

Digital national registers

A step towards digital twin adoption is the design, implementation and management of digital national registers. As stated by Government Digital Service (GDS), Registers provide structured datasets of public sector information to help organisations and individuals build digital services on high quality data infrastructure. Using registers, digital twin adopters can reduce the time and cost of sourcing data from across the public sector, receive data that is ready to use with no need for data cleansing, be confident that digital twins are using the most up to date data. As per GDS guidance, each register only contains data on a specific subject, is kept up to date by a subject matter expert from the relevant government organisation and shares a common API that supports JSON and CSV.

Three register examples are the Digital National Asset Register (DNAR), National Underground Asset Register (NUAR) and National Street Gazetteer (NSG).

  • By 2021 the DNAR, led by the Office of Government Property aims to provide a single, trusted view of all public estate assets, supporting better strategic property decision making.
  • The NUAR, led by the Geospatial Commission aims to provide a national digital register of the pipes and cables which run underground, to help reduce the disruption causes when they are struck by mistake. The NUAR will allow workers to see underground pipes and cables on mobile phones or laptop computers before they start a dig. This will help to reduce disruption on the roads through better planning and more coordination between infrastructure providers and local authorities. 
  • The NSG, led by GeoPlace contains definitive information for streets in England and Wales. It provides a unique referencing system, embedded in legislation and is fundamental in the processes of managing all street works.  Primarily it allows local authorities to manage all street works carried out by themselves and by statutory undertakers in an efficient manner on the national road network.

These registers depend upon geospatial information management and therefore geospatial data infrastructures.

Geospatial data infrastructures guiding digital twin adoption

At this point we come back to how can geospatial data infrastructures guide digital twin adoption and lay the foundation for digital twin adoption. 1Spatial’s approach follows learning by doing, overcoming by sharing and succeeding together through data Collaboration, data Automation and data Transformation principles for geospatial data infrastructures.

  • Data Collaboration – working with stakeholders internally and externally to collect, manage and share data
  • Data Automation – designing and implementing workflows to collect, manage and share data
  • Data Transformation – making digital data fit for purpose

The DFTG Gemini Principles (guiding values) for the Information Management Framework refer to purpose, trust and function.  With regards to trust, digital twins must be built on data of an appropriate quality that is transparent, defined and measured.  The DFTG prioritised roadmap for delivering the Information Management Framework for the built environment refers to developing the necessary support for effective information management via guidance, specifications and standards. 1Spatial’s data collaboration, data automation and data transformation principles described above support organisations to effectively and efficiently collect, manage and share standardised, high quality and therefore smarter geospatial data about our built and natural environments.

Providing a pathway to digital transformation and digital twin adoption

1Spatial is working with organisations to provide a pathway to digital transformation and digital twin adoption, giving those with responsibilities for data infrastructures the support needed to combine and manage the data required to build and sustain digital twins.

Author – Matthew White, 1Spatial