Mott MacDonald supports the development of a public visualisation tool for the National Digital Twin programme
Mott MacDonald has worked with The National Digital Twin programme (NDTp) and partners of the Climate Resilience Demonstrator (CReDo) project to develop an interactive public visualisation tool showcasing the benefits of connected digital twins at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26).
CReDo is a research project to develop, for the first time in the UK, a digital twin across energy, water and telecoms networks to provide a practical example of how connected data and greater access to the right information can improve climate adaptation and resilience.
The interactive app introduces the fictional Sunford City. The city experiences a series of severe storms, driven by climate change, that cause a cascade of asset failures and subsequent emergencies across the city and hamper the ability of utility networks to recover.
Users can test different scenarios by using isolated digital twins versus a connected digital twin that allows them to access information shared across water, telecoms and energy sectors. This in turn enables them to make more informed decisions, at the system level, to better protect the city. The app demonstrates how connecting datasets and digital twins across organisations and sectors is vital to infrastructure resilience in the face of climate change.
Maria Manidaki, Mott MacDonald global lead for Net Zero and CReDo team asset management principal said, “Understanding how the current climate crisis affects our economic infrastructure and local communities requires a truly systemic approach and demands new and collaborative ways to manage assets, share information and extend the potential of digital technology. This will help us prioritise our investment planning efforts to adapt to climatic hazards such as flooding. It will also enable us to maximise our infrastructure’s decarbonisation potential. As part of the CReDo team, our water, energy, telecoms and climate specialists all look forward to helping address the technical, data and institutional barriers and opportunities a systemic approach to infrastructure calls for.”
The NDTp and partners have also produced a poignant short film, Tomorrow Today, highlighting the essential role of infrastructure resilience and showcasing the role of connected digital twins in adapting to the climate emergency. Directed by BAFTA winning director Colin O’Toole (Cowboy Dave, 2018), it tells the story of Arthur and his grandson Jack facing the unprecedented Storm Ruby, which has the potential to knock out multiple utility services and threaten lives across the community.
The film stars Paul Copley (Last Tango in Halifax, Downton Abbey), Sam Bottomley (Ladhood, Wolf Hall), the voice of Sam Spruell (Snow White and the Huntsman), and Hopi Grace (Time, Emmerdale) as Clara, the digital twin engineer. The film premiered during COP26 and is available to stream online on the Digital Twin Hub.
Sarah Hayes, the project’s lead and author of the report Data for the Public Good, said, “Following the recent statement by the Environment Agency that ‘It is adapt or die’ when it comes to climate-driven flooding, CReDo’s outputs could not be more timely. We want the film and app to connect with everyone, from asset owners to the public, and remind them that lives are at stake. We need to build more resilience into our systems, and that takes collaboration. As Clara, the engineer in the film, says, ’We have the technology, we just need to share the data.’”
National partners and wider project objectives
Going beyond the fictional scenario developed for COP26 products, the CreDo project is about using real asset and climatic data to show how a systemic approach to infrastructure planning, using connected digital twins in the water, energy and telecommunications sectors can help build better resilience to extreme flood events. Collaborating on the Climate Resilience Demonstrator (CReDo) project with the National Digital Twin programme are Anglian Water, BT and UK Power Networks, who will share their asset and operations data combined with environmental data to inform an increased level of infrastructure resilience for the future.
The project is being delivered through a collaboration of research centres and industry partners; the Universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Exeter, Newcastle and Warwick are working alongside the Hartree Centre, DAFNI, Science and Technology Facilities Council, CMCL Innovations, the Joint Centre for Excellence in Environmental Intelligence and Mott MacDonald. It is funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the Connected Places Catapult and the University of Cambridge.
Using an Information Management Framework (IMF) approach, which is being developed through the NDTp, CReDO will enable the partners to share data across a secure platform. CReDo will demonstrate the capability of the IMF approach to connect digital twins in a principled, scalable way to inform decision making in capital and operational planning, reducing the cost and disruptive impact of extreme weather events and increasing resilience.
This collaborative project will demonstrate the potential of a National Digital Twin to deliver beneficial outcomes for infrastructure systems and society in the face of change change.