Building a collaborative foundation for Australian Urban Digital Twins

We’re still energised from a thought-provoking week at the 2023 eResearch Australasia Conference in Brisbane. In particular the Birds of a Feather session we held on building a collaborative foundation for Australian Urban Digital Twins was a real highlight. The focus of the session was on enhancing interoperability as the first step towards building an Australian Urban Digital Twin community. Joining AURIN’s Pascal Perez and Masoud Rahimi was Ana Belgun (CSIRO’s Data61), Rob Atkinson (Open Geospatial Consortium), Nicholas Car (Kurrawong AI) and Christopher Blackstock (Woolpert).

Urban Digital Twins (UDTs) allow researchers to comprehend complex urban phenomena across time and space. The digital representation of the urban environment in 3- and 4-D—along with real-time data acquisition and analytical and modelling capabilities—offers insights into key Australian urban challenges, including climate changes, energy transition and demographic transformation. These insights allow researchers, planners and policy makers to make better informed decisions.

At the moment effective implementation of UDTs in Australia is hindered by a lack of standardised and coordinated approaches in utilising the wide range of data and tools available. Because of this there are limited effective uses and integrations of UDTs and the complexity of customised workarounds impedes seamless updating, adaptation and governance of UDTs.

It’s clear that collaboration is essential among Australian industries, academia and governments to develop and evaluate the standards, technology, policies and procedures of UDTs.

This is not a simple problem to solve. It’s a challenge to get the research community to collaborate when it’s often easier to focus on their own approach to UDTs. But it is only by connecting the disparate ideas, models and standards that we will create something that is greater than the sum of its parts. Working together, while initially difficult, will eventually have an incredible impact on our ability to address the key urban challenges facing Australia.

The next steps in creating an UDT community are:

  • Build and consult with the user community on an ongoing basis
  • Map the work across research domains, creating a balance of data, modelling and visualisation
  • Develop a systemic way to think about the backend of UDTs
  • Breaking the silos of knowledge to allow interoperability
  • Social data—this will make it more than spatialisation and modelling, it will add a human component

As UDTs evolve we will build and collaborate with our community. To join our UDT community please fill in the form below. We look forward to collaborating with you!

We are also thrilled to tease you with news of an exciting Hackathon event coming up in March 2024. Alongside our partners at ARUP, we are holding a Hackthon where participants will have real world challenges to solve with exciting hard-to-get-data and cutting edge tech. Check the box below to hear more!