In 2017, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) published the now seminal report “Data for the Public Good” which highlighted the criticality of quality information in the development, operation, maintenance and use of infrastructure, and set out a vision for building a National Digital Twin: a Digital Twin of National Infrastructure.
To realise this ambition, the NIC recommended establishing a Digital Framework Task Group (DFTG) that would develop a technical basis to identify and address key barriers, such as the clarity, availability and consistency of data across the UK’s infrastructure sector.
As part of this work, the DFTG recently set out guiding values- known as the Gemini Principles- for the creation of a (national) system for connecting digital assets, which has become commonly referred to as the Information Management Framework (IMF).
In May 2020, the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) published a new report entitled ‘The pathway towards an information management framework’, which builds on these principles and sets out a series of technical steps needed to bring the NIC’s vision of a National Digital Twin into reality.
Three core elements are proposed in the report as integral to an appropriately functioning information management framework, which would allow digital twins to connect. These include:
Foundational Data Model (FDM): a consistent, clear understanding of what constitutes the world of digital twins
- This ontological model should be able to describe general concepts independent of a problem domain and as a result the work of the NDT programme includes working with twin builders and domain experts to explore and propose structures of relationships to be held within and between digital twins, models, datasets, and physical twins.
Reference Data Library (RDL): the particular set of classes and the properties we will want to use to describe our digital twins
- The specifics of particular controlled vocabularies (taxonomies) and how common words are used, providing standardised choices for differences arising from sectoral and disciplinary legacies.
Integration Architecture (IA): the protocols that will enable the managed sharing of data
- A discovery protocol - Allowing for efficient retrieval of digital twins across distributed providers.
- An authorisation layer - Implementing a security model.
- A data transformation and validation engine - partially automating the integration of incompatible data and providing compliance testing.
The CDBB is now seeking feedback on this proposed approach and has launched an open consultation which runs until 31 August 2020.
techUK will be working closely with our Digital Twins Working Group (DTWG)- which is made up of world-leading data science and information management experts, as well as, digital twin owners, operators and end users- to respond to this consultation and put forward view of a future digital twin ecosystem that harnesses the power of technology to improve people’s lives and create a thriving society, economy and planet.
If you would like to get involved in this work, or contribute to techUK’s consultation response, then get in touch with Tom Henderson (Tom.Henderson@techUK.org) today, or register to attend the CDBB’s upcoming virtual briefing on the open consultation.