Infrastructure industry could benefit by £7bn a year from digital twins

Greater data sharing could release an additional £7bn a year of benefits across the UK infrastructure sectors, equivalent to 25% of total infrastructure spend, according to a government-backed taskforce aimed at creating a “digital twin” of the UK’s infrastructure.

The Digital Framework Task Group (DFTG) is making these claims as it launches the Gemini Principles, bringing together key voices from government, academia and industry to provide the sector with foundational definitions and values to guide the development of the National Digital Twin (NDT).

This NDT will be an ecosystem of digital twins that are connected by securely shared data. It starts to address the key recommendations in the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC)’s 2017 report Data for the public good. This work forms part of Centre for Digital Built Britain’s remit as the national focus for the digital transformation of the built environment.

The NDT will be a national resource for improving the performance, service and value delivered by the UK’s infrastructure; delivering benefits to society, business, the environment, and the economy.

CDBB has been tasked with delivering the information management framework to underpin the NDT, and a series of pilot digital twins. The framework forms an integral part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy and Construction Sector Deal.

Richard Harrington, minister for business and industry, said: “Digital technology is transforming the way we manage our built environment, and this collaborative work paves the way for better data-sharing that will put the UK at the forefront of digital construction and smarter infrastructure that’s more cost effective, delivers better services and energy efficiency.

“This initiative embodies the aims of the Construction Sector Deal as we boost the skills and innovation within the industry so it’s best placed to take advantage of the projected £600bn pipeline of infrastructure projects to be delivered over the coming decades.”

Mark Enzer, chair of the DFTG, said: “The Gemini Principles are effectively the conscience of the digital built environment. If we want the National Digital Twin and information management framework to be for the public good, forever, we need start with strong founding values.

“Appropriate coordination is required to achieve the huge potential benefits,” continued Enzer. “The Gemini Principles are intended to help facilitate alignment for stakeholders throughout the built environment, and I look forward to engaging widely on the next steps via the roadmap.”

Professor Andy Neely, director of CDBB, said: “Effective information management has the potential to make significant cost savings and also promises infrastructure service improvements for the benefit of the citizens of the UK. I welcome the Gemini Principles as the next step towards making digital transformation work for the public good across the built environment.

“I would encourage industry leaders to engage with the DFTG and to act as champions for delivering the organisational, societal and economic benefits possible through effective information management.”

Based on the NIC’s notion of “data for the public good”, the nine foundational Gemini Principles are: public good, value creation, insight, security, openness, quality, federation, curation, and evolution.

The next output of the DFTG will be the roadmap, a prioritised plan that proposes the best route for delivering the information management framework, due to be published in early 2019. Leaders involved in planning, creating and managing the built environment are invited to provide feedback on the Gemini Principles and future roadmap by contacting [email protected].


  • Digital twin: A realistic digital representation of something physical. What distinguishes a digital twin from any other digital model is its connection to the physical twin.
  • Information management framework: All that is necessary to enable effective information management across the built environment. It addresses secure, resilient interoperability, which is fundamental for creation of a national digital twin.
  • Gemini Principles: Values to guide the development and use of the information management framework and the NDT.
  • NDT: National digital twin – an ecosystem of digital twins that are connected by securely shared data.
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