Connected digital twins: what must happen next?

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What must happen next for an ecosystem of connected digital twins to flourish? That’s the question the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) has answered with the publication of the Gemini Papers, which detail the what, why and how of connected digital twins.

The Papers are the result of the CDBB’s work on the subject with industry, academia and government over the past five years.

Here are the key recommendations:

Defining connected digital twins
  • Government and the built environment sector must champion the use of an accessible and common framework for an ecosystem of connected digital twins. This framework should create shared data connections between digital twins that will span organisations, sectors, and structures.
  • The built and natural environment systems have fast become complex and difficult to understand. Policymakers and industry must ensure a network of digital twins can continue to develop as these systems grow and adapt.
  • Thought leaders and influencers should ensure a digital twin is not defined too closely. By applying a narrow definition, we risk excluding possible use cases while the technology is still maturing within the construction industry. We know that digital twins are varied and should be fit for purpose.
Why connected digital twins?
  • When designing and operating connected digital twins, all parties and partners in the built environment sector must maximise positive outcomes for people and nature.
  • The built environment sector must fully embrace sustainable development. Interventions in the built environment should avoid short-term objectives that may compromise the resilience of future generations.
  • The built environment sector must ensure interventions unlock more value from existing infrastructure.
  • Decision-makers in government, industry and academia must share responsibility for ensuring the technologies being implemented today are people-led and designed with inclusion at the core.
Enabling the ecosystem of connected digital twins
  • Industry, government, and education institutions must develop the National Capability Enhancement Programme, Information Management, Skills and Competency frameworks.
  • Policymakers and industry must support the adoption of international standards on knowledge sharing, collaboration, and organisational relations.
  • Policymakers and the built environment sector must encourage the market to flourish by updating legal frameworks and industry regulations, and developing new commercial models.
  • The built environment sector must continue to embrace a collaborative environment and infrastructure to support lessons learned, best practice, guidance, and other knowledge sharing

Mark Enzer OBE FREng, outgoing CDBB director and head of the National Digital Twin programme, said: “Connected digital twins help us to understand systems better and to intervene more effectively. They are crucial tools in addressing the great systems-level challenges of our time: net zero, climate resilience and the circular economy. By working together, enabling secure information flow across organisational and sector boundaries, we can achieve better outcomes for people, society and nature.   

“As CDBB completes its part of the mission to advance the digital transformation of the built environment, it is our intent that these papers will help those who carry the mission forward, especially those who seek to unlock the benefits of connected digital twins at a national and international level.”

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