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The big build: A journey in Digital Twin capability

By Robyn Francis | Global Engagement Coordinator | Smart Cities Council

In 2021 Digital Twin Week offered up a practical session that walked through what each of the core Digital Twin capabilities look like on the ground, in a community.

Using an urban growth area case study – Morisset in Lake Macquarie in NSW – members of the Digital Twin Challenge cohort worked through each capability and outlined 'why, what and how' you can advance your Digital Twin journey.

The session covered the core Digital Twin capabilities, namely:

  • Connect

  • Integrate

  • Analyse

  • Simulate

  • Visualise

Guests joined leaders in data leadership and Digital Twins, including:

We started with an overview of Morisset - an area identified as a place for strategic growth by the Lake Macquarie council. Claire Chaikin-Bryan walked us through what the council is looking to improve in the area, from transport and the proposed introduction of faster rail solutions, to a town centre transformation and expansion of industrial land. With all this development, key considerations are the maintenance of recreational land, educational facilities, utilities, urban greening and natural assets.


Digital connection allows the transfer of data between the physical and digital word. The DTC Cohort approach has been to start by determining which physical infrastructure assets and corresponding datasets are relevant for our digital twin. So which are the top three datasets? Given their energy consumption, buildings.

In order to understand options to utilise existing council infrastructure for connectivity and explore newer opportunities, the DTC cohort looked at telecommunications networks of all different types.

Since Morisset have a diversity of telecommunications networks available, the challenge has been finding the right balance of connectivity options to ensure reliability, redundancy and quality of data.


In this portion of the session, we discussed the ability to ingest and link datasets, providing an anchor in location information through real-world, real-time information, while walking through a real world scenario in Sydney. From surface cover and the benefits for planning for storm and flood water management on a property or suburb level, to energy and water, the audience enjoyed a deep dive into Geoscape’s implementation of real time data feeds.


We walked through the capability of digital twins, and how analysis could be applied in a case study such as Morisset to drive and influence decision making. Looking at the business problems that need to be solved and value to be created, Chris Blackstock talked us through how to plan or envision for 20 years in the future, before moving on to the identification of interdependent decisions that need to be made.

Using urban greening as a case study, Thomas Gooch then took us through the analytics pipeline, starting with raw satellite data, taking it to a decision ready state for the various end users.

Some key questions highlighted:

- What is the key problem that your Digital Twin will help solve?

- How will data and analysis directly improve current workflows?

- Who and how will your users access the insights?


Will Hackney lead the simulation side of the discussion, sharing how actors and key data source layers are brought into a real world example from the UK highlighting the depth of digital twin use cases once there is cross dataset integration, for example crime hotspots using commuter flows and protection services data overlays.

Digital Twin must be carefully formulated, for which the analysis of data and trust in data validity and reliability are crucial.


A quick video kickstarted the visualisation component of the session, highlighting progress that has been made in the development of physics simulation engines and 3D modeling. Today, so much more can be done with so much less as tools and technology have evolved, opening up the possibility of implementation for more use cases with greater quality models that mimic reality. The value of visualisation being communication, breaking down barriers to entry in terms of understanding decision making and understanding data in new ways as concepts leap off pages into more immersive experiences.

The session included an intensive discussion component for each of the capabilities, which the DTC Cohort will look to share 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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