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Digital Twins, and a family of elephants

By Robyn Francis | Global Engagement Coordinator | Smart Cities Council

Day two at Digital Twin Week was an early start for some, as we hosted one of our more informal gatherings for the week.

For 1hr we debated the Digital Twin 'elephant in the room'. But which elephant was trumpeting loudest?

Is it:

● Communication of the value of Digital Twins?

● The 'cost' question?

● What about security?

● Might it be 'openness'?

● Could the value of Digital Twin as a collaboration tool be the key?

● ...or the ingestion of social media as a data set?

Attendees pulled up their soapbox and shared views, alongside our four guest provocateurs:

Helen Spencer | Queensland Government

Merrick Spain | Civic Analytica

Andra Christie | AWS

Julian Watts | KPMG

What is that critical issue we are yet to address? Here’s a taste of what popped up:


How would a digital twin broker access a data set? How could a federated model work? What do data governance and sharing models in open sharing settings look like and how could we ensure consistency in data sets?.

Collaboration v competition

In the Digital Twin space, there is massive competition to set standards that others follow whereas in NZ and the UK there is more collaboration and centralisation of goals. This creates competition but also opportunities for divergence… in line with common goals. How do we cultivate an environment for successful cross-governmental and industry collaboration whilst ensuring we have frameworks and procurement views to benefit all stakeholders? How far will the roadmap go in delivering alignment?

As a group, we looked at some of the elephants raising their trunks, to determine what we as a sector are seeing as largest.

By far, the communication of value is the most urgent issue for the cohort present. Value being an array of possible benefits and use cases, noted the panel, and communication being key to ensuring the value can be put across more clearly, in line with council or departmental pain points.

We looked at the current lack of legislation and frameworks and how, while there are currently component parts there is a need for cohesive, strategic, all encompassing policy. At a federal level, there are initiatives around data sharing - the pieces starting to form - but given the nuance and newness of the digital twin space, how far do we still have to go and how do we make it more accessible?

On the topic of openness, we discussed the relatively well-known concept of open data. Often, though, the data that’s not considered open is the data needed. So, how do we monitor security controls to determine who can share various data and how should it be classified so that it can be shared. How do we track the ultimate endpoints, monitor trust and ensure that, most importantly, data can be trusted.

From blockers to increasing demand, procurement of data as an asset, delivery and the controversial question of data marketplaces, we covered a range of juicy topics. Keep an eye on the Digital Twin Hub as we unpack this session and more in the coming weeks.

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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