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Technology

Atkins and Ordnance Survey to research benefits of national digital twin

16 February 2020

Engineering and design company Atkins and Ordnance Survey have been appointed by the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) to research the benefits of creating a national digital twin of the UK’s infrastructure.

Led by Atkins, the research project will explore the baseline benefits of creating digital twins of the UK’s critical national infrastructure – from hospitals to railway stations – to form a connected ecosystem of data-sharing.

The research forms part of the CDBB’s National Digital Twin Programme, established to provide the public and private sectors with a roadmap to resilient information sharing across the built environment (while interfacing with the natural environment), with the aim of creating a national digital twin.

The project will involve measuring the performance, efficiency and resilience of the UK’s existing infrastructure; the potential impact of a national digital twin to the UK’s productivity; and the effect on future costs. The resulting baseline benefits case will also highlight which sectors, networks, regions and industries would benefit most.

Working together with Ordnance Survey, we will provide an outline of the baseline benefits of creating a digital twin and help future-proof our critical national infrastructure by understanding its needs and the impact of future events.– Will Squires, Atkins

Together, Atkins and Ordnance Survey will conduct interviews with industry figures and collate data on the likes of operational expenditure and maintenance costs to create a detailed database of all critical national infrastructure assets in the UK. This will include exploring potential synergies across sectors such as transport, energy, water and urban regeneration, adding a greater level of creativity when mapping the potential benefits.

Will Squires, project lead at Atkins, said: “This flagship project provides a great opportunity to explore the benefits to both industry and end users with the creation of a national digital twin. Working together with Ordnance Survey, we will provide an outline of the baseline benefits of creating a digital twin and help future-proof our critical national infrastructure by understanding its needs and the impact of future events.”

Miranda Sharp, director of innovation at Ordnance Survey, said: “From this research, we hope to gain a better understanding and be able to more confidently describe the benefits of a national digital twin to asset owners and people with new ideas about the use of data to provide new services in the UK and countries across the world.

“We are leading a piece of work to create a ‘logic model’ that describes the nature and scale of benefits to of an information management framework. This framework links together individual digital twins, using geospatial data to create a national digital twin.

“Done well, it will ensure an increased profile for the National Digital Twin Programme as we are able to engage more businesses and users of infrastructure on the possibilities of using data to increase efficiency and generate value and spend less time talking about the technology.”

Mott Macdonald will be providing a supporting, advisory role to ensure a whole-industry view is achieved.

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