Powering local analysis through ‘digital twin’ development for better regional decision making.
One of the biggest challenges facing society is climate change and the necessity to transition to net zero carbon in all areas of modern life including energy and transport.
Working in partnership with The Alan Turing Institute and Birmingham City Council, the University’s Institutes in Energy and Data Science and AI, are responding to this challenge by developing a ‘digital twin’ which will have the potential to comprehensively model and test pathways to clean energy and net zero emissions within the Tyseley Environmental Enterprise District (TEED) of east Birmingham.
Digital twins have the potential to provide cities with a bridge between the real and digital world, where smart buildings and infrastructure share information with a virtual environment, creating huge potential to accelerate decarbonisation.
This collaboration between Turing and the University of Birmingham has the opportunity to both support and inform the national dialogue on other issues broader issues of systems resilience, climate change and levelling up.
Collaboration to make progress
As a member of the Turing University Network, Turing Science of Cities and Regions Programme sponsored a project work which took a digital capture of the TEED area using light aircraft and used this imagery to create a ‘Point Cloud’ – a large set of data points in a 3D coordinate system, where each point represents a specific location in space and contains position, colour, and intensity. From this, a Digital Model was derived compiled from 3D geospatial datasets and overlaid with electricity networks and transport data, creating a graphical interactive Demonstrator that can be engaged with via iPad. This project builds on a Feasibility study [12.1MB PDF] released in 2022 developed through co-creation workshops with a range of stakeholders, this study explored potential use cases for a digital twin alongside the ‘pains and gains’ for different personas e.g. SME business owner, a resident, an investor.
This project moves us one step closer to having a fully interactive digital twin which could allow residents, businesses and policy makers to understand the region in much more detail and make informed decision based on simulated scenarios to discover the impact of different technologies, industrial and transport policies before they are implemented.
To make progress on this challenge, collaboration between partners is central. As part of the project, in summer 2023 an event convened regional and national representative to share learning from the project and other case studies, exploring the social, technological and infrastructure challenges of creating and implementing urban analytics tools.
Given the aspiration to develop a digital twin to enable decarbonisation within Birmingham, starting with the TEED area, this project moves a step closer with the funding secured through the DIATOMIC Accelerator programme led by the Connected Places Catapult. Diatomic is designed to harness the region’s knowledge base in digital technologies, helping to bolster innovation and R&D capacity to spark commercial growth and investment. As part of this, the University of Birmingham team is working with external partners to procure a baseframe which will form the basis for the future digital twin
Other project collaborators include MAADDIGITAL and Siemens.