R&D: Digital twins

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Digital twins: why is this topic important?

A ‘digital twin’ is a digital model of a physical infrastructure which can simulate impacts, and monitor the physical infrastructure in real time.

To support the development of the concept of digital twins, the National Infrastructure Commission has recommended the creation of a digital framework for data infrastructure that will help to deliver on the recommendations from its report, Data for the Public Good.

This framework will describe how to create digital twins, in terms of how the physical infrastructure can be represented by a data infrastructure. This data infrastructure includes data assets; and standards and guides that show how data can manage, plan, predict and demonstrate.

The development of this framework is coordinated by the Centre for Digital Built Britain and led by the recently announced Digital Framework Task Group of which the ODI is a member.

Robust data infrastructure is the cornerstone to ODI’s vision of achieving value from data. This project is a significant opportunity to strengthen the data infrastructure associated with our national built environment in the UK, representing one of the countries most significant areas of government and private investment and to contribute to creating impact from data in a nascent international field of digital twins and the built environment in smart cities.

Digital twins in practice

An example of a digital twin would be a traffic model that supports real-time monitoring, forecasting and management of a region’s road network.

Our approach

In this project we’ll be identifying the pain points and good practices in the creation of digital twins by speaking with experts and exploring existing digital twins projects. We’ll also be working closely with the Centre for Digital Built Britain, the Digital Framework Task Group and other partners to ensure that our work aligns.

This work is part of a three-year innovation programme, running to March 2020 with a funding profile of £2m each year from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.

Through our R&D programme, we aim to shape future services and promote productivity and growth with cutting edge expertise.