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Digital by default: flicking the switch for all infrastructure

By Robyn Francis | Global Engagement Coordinator | Smart Cities Council

The opening plenary at Digital Twin Week is always the forum that paints the strategic picture of a core catalyst for our Digital Twin future - smart infrastructure.

In the first hour, we heard from Romilly Madew AO, CEO of Infrastructure Australia, the federal government’s independent advisory working to deliver better infrastructure for all Australians. Romilly covered the IA’s plan to build a 'digital by default' infrastructure market in Australia, and what this means for the future pipeline. Romilly was then interviewed by the Executive Director for the Smart Cities Council, Adam Beck.

We heard from Romilly on the key role Governments can play in solving digital adoption in the infrastructure sector in conjunction with industry stakeholders, as well as state and territory governments, moving towards an open environment where information is shared and information costs less to design, deliver and maintain.

Some key themes emerged, such as the need for better collaboration and common goals across the industry, implementation of standards and sharing of use cases. A collective effort by all levels of government is vital for avoiding fragmentation as well as reducing risk for the wider community.

With Infrastructure Australia’s 2021 Infrastructure Plan as a backbone for conversation, we looked ahead at how a Digital by Default approach could aid in improving the rate of adoption of digital twin technology across the infrastructure sector, as well as shift perceptions that currently hold projects back and how the real value of digital engineering can be unlocked when integrated at a city or precinct level. The aim of this approach being to drive economic success and inclusion, enable consistency and accelerate the deployment of plans.

During our Q&A time with Romilly, we looked at the time needed to implement the items identified in the Reform Priority List, how Infrastructure Australia sees the role of procurement shifting in relation to transformation and agile change, how the sector can better engage with IA and the role we can all play in embedding the Digital by Default approach.

Following our keynote which primarily focused on where we need to go, we heard from an esteemed panel of recognised leaders in the smart infrastructure sector, on how we might put the Australia Infrastructure Plan into action and what it means for policymakers and practitioners who are responsible for delivering the nation’s pipeline of projects - the roadmap for how we get there to our intended digital destination, so to speak.

Our guests included:

Meredith Hodgman | KPMG

Richard Morrison | AECOM

Henry Okraglik | WSP

Gavin Cotterill | PCSG (Moderator)

We started with where we’re at - in a place where it is important that territories align to ensure not only progress but the transparency of standards, as they relate to delivery and valuation of data, as well as sharing of use cases, ROI, and learnings to speed up project planning and deployment.

We looked at exemplar case studies that we, as an industry, can take note of and learn from, such as the City of Newcastle and City of Dijon (France), before attention was turned sharply towards the future and what needs to happen to ensure successful delivery of digital solutions in an equitable, sustainable manner.

Finally, we looked at how we can better communicate the technology projects we work on to explain benefits to societies, highlighting how we’re collectively working to make more liveable, workable, and sustainable places for the people that live in them.

A recording of this session will be made available on the Smart Cities Academy website on November 1 2021. Subscribers to the DT Hub will be notified when available.

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