Connected Places Catapult has been collaborating with the National Digital Twin programme hosted by the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) at Cambridge University on a connected digital twin demonstrator for infrastructure resilience.
The CDBB have made great headway in crafting and communicating a vision for digital twins as a cross-sector opportunity to support decisions in the context of high future uncertainty (climate, technology, public health, etc) and where many system interactions and cascading consequences exist. The water-energy-telecoms interface is a key example.
The energy, water and telecoms networks are coming under increasing pressure, from the combination of ageing infrastructure, changing demand, and the increased incidence of extreme weather events due to climate change – all this in the context of the imperative of meeting net-zero targets. The networks are increasingly enmeshed as places need “water for energy” – to produce hydrogen as a future fuel and ‘energy for water’ – for example to desalinate. Both hydrogen and desalination are expected to surge before 2040. In addition, all networks are becoming increasingly dependent on connectivity and communications through digitalisation.
Recognising the potential benefits of further innovation to the UK economy, Connected Places Catapult (CPC) has worked in conjunction with CDBB to build a connected digital twin demonstrator that helps answer questions on the complex interactions between water, energy and telecoms assets as our environment changes over the next 30 years. The demonstrator brings together data from UK Power Networks, Anglian Water, BT and the Joint Centre for Excellence in Environmental Intelligence (a partnership between the Met Office and Exeter University).
The focus so far has been on flooding in East Anglia, a region particularly liable to this sort of resilience challenge. Connected Places Catapult focused on engineering the critical united data set needed for the demonstrator and showcasing an innovative digital twin solution provider, selected through an open competition, to highlight the capabilities of the digital twin supplier landscape. CMCL Innovations were selected through a highly competitive tender process to bring their unique digital twin technology to support creation of the demonstrator, and to highlight how technology companies can help drive innovation through collaboration with infrastructure asset owners.
In December 2021, the project has now completed the data engineering work to deliver the critical united data set and created the critical infrastructure digital twin for this demonstrator. From January 2022 to March 2022, the teams will be creating synthesized data to enable public dissemination. The team will continue to build in advanced scenario flood modelling outputs into the digital twin. The demonstrator will show the impact to asset owners in joining their systems data, focussing on how both tidal and river flooding can impact that infrastructure system.
The value of this use case is that it demonstrates the power of using these critical infrastructure datasets in a connected digital twin. The relationships between disparate infrastructure networks have been modelled, and for the first time the combined resilience of the whole infrastructure system can be shown. The modelling in question allows for outages in one network to affect another network in the connected digital twin, for instance showing how a power outage affects telecoms assets.
The project was showcased at COP26 and more details can be found on digital twin hub: https://digitaltwinhub.co.uk/projects/credo/what-is-credo
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