Development of a Digital Twin for East Birmingham

New report outlines the initial steps taken towards creating a digital twin that could help inform decisions around the decarbonisation of heat and power.

A digital image of the TEED area

A project funded by The Alan Turing Institute by the University of Birmingham in partnership with Birmingham City Council and Siemens has produced a report (pdf 5000 KB) outlining the initial steps taken towards creating a digital twin to power decision making in the Tyseley Environmental Enterprise District (TEED) area. A digital twin has the opportunity to inform decisions around decarbonisation of heat and transportation, ensuring investment is channelled in the best way to ensure every pound spent delivers expected results.

The report describes how a digital map of TEED was created using light aircraft flights in January 2023, later overlaid with energy, transport and emissions data to create a 3D model. This project aligns with the vision for this area of Birmingham as a Green Innovation Quarter to:

  • Expand the Tyseley Energy Park to form a 400acre Green Innovation Quarter that will be the foundation for the growth of businesses that will support the net zero transition of Birmingham.
  • Create an exemplary and sustainable working and living ecosystem which is recognised for its approach to net zero and sustainability.
  • Link the city’s East Birmingham Inclusive Growth Strategy to promote inclusive growth in TEED that will benefit both local communities and the wider Birmingham area.
  • Collaborate with residents and businesses in the community to ensure the area is developed to the benefit of everyone.
  • Build on current momentum to attract more businesses to the area to join the green energy revolution.

The project has been a key step forward in creating a digital environment which allows the area of the TEED to be understood and explored virtually. Embedding the energy and transport infrastructure will unlock opportunities to plan new developments within the TEED to expand infrastructure for electric vehicle charging and green heating and power networks. The platform created has been used with local schools and stakeholder groups to better understand the Enterprise District on their doorstep.

This is a really important piece of work which has been facilitated through the Alan Turing Institute funding which is allowing the City of Birmingham to be pioneering in the development of city scale digital twins. The Birmingham Energy Institute has been extremely proud to help through driving this initial stage of development of the Birmingham Digital Twin.

Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute

“The Alan Turing Institute is delighted be collaborating on this exciting project with the University of Birmingham and its partners. Digital twins, combining novel data sets and the latest in data science and AI in real world contexts, have the capability to promote positive and widespread social change in support of a brighter future for our cities. We are thrilled with the opportunity to contribute to the TEED project as it seeks to improve the lives of the people of Birmingham.” Professor Mark Birkin, Programme Director for Urban Analytics, The Alan Turing Institute

Cllr Majid Mahmood, cabinet member for environment, said: "Digital twins are really innovative projects, helping us tackle the big challenges facing the city, seeing what works and where the problems are using real-time data; that way we can invest intelligently, making sure we can be even more confident of results that will help our residents.

“There will be some really pioneering work happening in east Birmingham, tied to our inclusive growth programme, and this will help towards achieving our net-zero emissions goal, provide jobs and skills opportunities where they are needed and further secures our credentials as a Digital Birmingham."

Björn Burbach, Solution Head Infrastructure & Districts EMEA at Siemens Advanta, said: “As bold steps are taken towards the decarbonisation of TEED, the need for a robust decision-making framework became paramount. Drawing on our extensive expertise in digital twin technology, we take pride in supporting the creation of such a powerful virtual platform. By harnessing the potential of a digital twin, East Birmingham will be propelled towards a greener and more prosperous future."

The findings of the report are now continued through the DIATOMIC project, which is procuring a cloud-based platform and will develop use cases around traffic impact and air quality; energy systems and infrastructure; and hydrogen fuel cells. The long-term aim is for the twin to become a platform which enables businesses, public bodies and citizens to shape the future of the city through data-driven insights.