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What is a Digital Twin?

"A digital twin is a dynamic digital representation of a real world object or system"

- ANZLIC,  the Spatial Information Council

Digital twin technology is being used around the world to address the complex challenges of urban renewal, sustainable living and digital modernisation.

A digital twin ecosystem relies on collaboration across governments, industry, the research sector and the community to help realise the full benefits and best possible outcomes.

Digital twin technology has the potential to revolutionise end-to-end approaches to construction and infrastructure by:

  • Optimising emerging technology in the development lifecycle
  • Creating efficiencies and savings through speed of approvals
  • Delivering smarter development using decision support tools
  • Enhancing services, products and partnerships to deliver public value
  • Creating a rich data ecosystem, spanning government, industry, academia and the community
  • Stimulating a future ready work force
Principles for Spatially Enabled Digital Twins Source: Principles for Spatially Enabled Digital Twins of the Built and Natural Environment in Australia, ANZLIC 2019 CC BY 4.0

About Fishermans Bend Precinct

Fishermans Bend is Australia’s largest urban renewal project covering around 480 hectares in the heart of Melbourne.The precinct is now in the design stage of a 30-year renewal program, overseen by the Fishermans Bend Development Board.

It is expected that by 2050 it will be home to approximately 80,000 residents and provide employment for up to 80,000 people.

Proof of Concept Project

A digital twin’s purpose is to enable better decision-making about how to plan, design and manage current and future infrastructure.  Rather than being about high resolution, feature-rich data, the motivation should be on the insights created that enable better decision-making about how to manage current and future infrastructures.

Fishermans Bend was chosen as the area to pilot Digital Twin technology in Victoria so that the findings could support decision making within the plans for a development already underway.

The project created a realistic, high accuracy model, that enables virtual and augmented reality, and the incorporation of  real time data, and data generated through artificial intelligence.

4D modelling of a physical asset’s design and condition (above and underground), includes precise location and legal boundaries.

This level of detail can help track and analyse changes in the environment. It also helps run possible development scenarios with realistic outcome forecasts including:

  • traffic flow predictions
  • power and water usage
  • shadow analysis

Hosted on a cloud-based geospatial platform, it adopts FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) data principles. This means users can easily search, discover, combine and visualise data.

Cloud hosting, and access via a browser means functionality is independent of user systems and technology. Therefore, installation, updates or special equipment are not required.

The Fishermans Bend Digital Twin has recreated real-world Fishermans Bend in a digital format.

“This cutting-edge technology will allow architects, planners and the public to look into the future of Fishermans Bend”

– Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, launching Victoria’s first digital twin project for Fishermans Bend, 28 August 2019

What we learnt

Piloting digital twin technology in Fishermans Bend has enabled DELWP to prepare for the foundational datasets, data driven decision making workflows and data visualisation requirements of the future. It has also accelerated the development of advanced 3D geospatial capabilities in state and local government.

The proof of concept revealed both barriers and opportunities:

  • Data is not readily available for use in decision making processes
  • Governance and organisational culture are the key barriers to data sharing (not technology)
  • National collaboration is strong and growing
  • Stakeholders are excited by the opportunities Digital Twins bring, particularly for collaboration
  • Industry is developing and using rich data, they want government to provide leadership and help set a vision
  • Collaboration across governments, industry, the research sector and the community will help realise the full benefits and best possible outcomes of a digital twin ecosystem in Australia
  • As 3D data requires significant investment and ongoing maintenance, a deeper understanding is required in order to ensure it is fit for purpose. The Victorian Digital Asset Strategy (VDAS) is a big part of this for government assets.
    A roadmap to enable Victoria's digital built environment is required

Key partners

Victorian Government, City of Melbourne, City of Port Philip, University of Melbourne, CSIRO’s Data 61, Melbourne Water, South East Water and VicRoads, Frontier SI, AAM Group, Aerometrex

What’s next for Fishermans Bend Digital Twin?

Further engagement with local, state, federal government agencies as well as industry bodies will see development and refinement of the platform.

Sign up to Map It Out, our e-newsletter for spatial news from across the Victorian Public Service, to be informed of any updates on the Fishermans Bend Digital Twin.

Page last updated: 31/08/20