Updated: Apr 7, 2020
By Adam Beck | Executive Director, Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand | Secretariat, Centre for Data Leadership
Earlier this week NSW Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello MP launched the NSW Digital Twin, an open platform for visualising data in 4D overtime. The launch was attended by leading policy makers, practitioners, technologists and developers, who were shown the new platform which has initially launched for communities associated with the Western Sydney City Deal and Greater Parramatta, all the way to the Olympic Peninsula.
This launch follows the release of the ANZLIC Principles for Spatially Enabled Digital Twins of the Built and Natural Environment in Australia in December 2019, which is Australia's first national digital twin resource providing a definition and suite of principles for digital twins.
In this document, ANZLIC uses the definition - "A digital twin is a dynamic digital representation of a real world object or system." This definition aligns with common understanding around digital twins, as well as a short industry survey that SCCANZ administered in September last year, seeking industry feedback on how stakeholders define the concept and what the benefits might be.
But on Monday in Sydney at the NSW Digital Twin launch, Minister Dominello used language not often spoken in every day digital twin dialogue. He said of the digital twin, "...it opens up data to grow the NSW economy..." and "...this is a platform for sharing ideas, and when you share ideas, you generate progress and innovation..."
He went on to say "...this is bigger than a digital product, this is micro economic reform...
And with that statement we are now presented with a much bigger vision than that of the traditional digital twin definition (ie. a digital replica of a physical asset/object). This description by the Minister of digital twins opens up a vision of a platform that can generate value, enhance transparency and build trust.
The digital twin, through this lens, thus becomes a tool for directing investment in the most sustainable infrastructure and citizen services with precision like we've never seen, that will accelerate climate action, productivity and wellbeing of the community.
And this is the view of the Smart Cities Council, and the market development work it is doing with the support of it's Digital Twin Task Force. This work is building on the research that shows data-driven urban management is predicted to be a $5-10 billion export opportunity in the Asia-Pacific region by 2028.
We are clear in our view that digital twins present a platform for open and shared data, community engagement, performance reporting and investment optimisation. We believe that along with data trusts and data exchanges, digital twins present significant potential for 'activating data.'