With a sustainability lens Digital Twins thrive



By Robyn Francis | Global Engagement Coordinator | Smart Cities Council


Sustainability increasingly must drive the decisions we make. This poses a significant, growing, and ongoing challenge for us all, whether we are faced with making strategic or everyday decisions.


Digital Twin Week 2021 worked to ensure that our Digital Twin efforts remain firmly grounded in purpose, and outcomes, and sustainability is the perfect driver.


By utilising Digital Twins an organisation can make consistently better and quicker high speed decisions. A Digital Twin's “looks like, behaves like, and connected to” elements allow it to analyse data, test possible outcomes, and present this information back to a decision makers in an intuitive way, showing them how their decisions will impact the real world.


Host Thomas Hyde, BECA’s Chief Digital Officer, walked us through notable developments shaping the industry before introducing panelists.


We kicked things off with key lessons from the UK’s journey where, over the last decade, there has been clear government support for digital transformation, starting with the BIM mandate for all publicly funded projects over 15 million pounds, calling for collaboration and support at the same time to fundamentally shift the sector framing digital as an enabler, rather than a saviour.


Key learnings:

  • Ongoing support and guidance is required

  • If you can get productivity gains in the construction sector, what happens when it is shared to other sectors. Hence the birth of Digital Built Britain and the build of a national digital twin for Britain.


Step 1 was to develop the Gemini Principles which outlined a clear purpose of the project (2016). This shifted conversation from how to build, to viewing the built environment as interconnected, interdependent system working to better outcomes for people.


Here are three things to bear in mind when looking at digital twins:


They have to be purpose driven, they have to be collaborative, and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.


More from CDBB here: https://www.cdbb.cam.ac.uk/news/publication-institutional-pressures-and-decoupling-construction-projects-analysis-building


Then, looking at Australia, panelists shared the large amount of work we have to do measure CO2 production and work towards sustainability and emissions solutions that tie in with digital twin solutions, rather than working in silo's. More in the Infrastructure Australia Market Capacity Report here: https://www.infrastructureaustralia.gov.au/publications/2021-infrastructure-market-capacity-report


We heard a great analogy from Wellington City Council’s Sean Audain on the complexities of managing a city, and how investment into a digital twin is helping aid community trust, information sharing and governing a digital infrastructure of collaboration.


Looking ahead, there was discussion on what we can learn from climate change. In the coming years, we will need to collectively report on progress made so what information do we need to source and gather now - not only for those in power, but for the public and their decision making, too.


The maintenance and sharing of a clear vision was reiterated as crucial for ensuring project success and buy-in to provide accurate data, taking into account the various stakeholders that will be a part of the project over the coming years, at all touchpoints. Similarly, starting small and sharing learnings were dubbed as important to ensure uptake and project validation.


Something the panel are excited about - the industrialisation of the construction sector is something the panel are looking forward to, as digital transformation washes over the space, much like it has the agriculture sector.


What else? You’ll have to keep an eye on our news page for more.


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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