Realising the value of engagement
When you put a digital twin at the heart of an infrastructure consultative process, the design team can more efficiently and effectively engage with industry stakeholders and the broader community. By linking the physical and digital realms, stakeholders can be guided through the design and delivery process in an integrated and understandable way, allowing for richer engagement and better outcomes.
To fully understand the buildability and stakeholder impact of a proposed project during the various lifecycle stages – from design to construction and throughout operation, the design team needs to engage with all stakeholders involved with or affected by the infrastructure.
A digital twin is a digital model of a real-life environment, which allows the engagement process to be reimagined. It provides a rich contextual record of feedback and proposals, their evaluation, and can track modifications throughout consultation, demonstrating how stakeholders are valued and engaged throughout the process.
Powering collaboration & being Future ReadyTM
By engaging with stakeholders earlier using digital designs, working and thinking together to explore different possibilities through visualisation and virtual environments powers collaboration.
”Put simply, it helps everyone involved understand the design, especially by being able to visualise challenging aspects where it’s hard to see why a particular design decision has been made,” explains Dr Libby Mitchell, Director of Communications and Engagement. “This provides the opportunity for earlier feedback and the ability to optimise and fix design decisions, thereby reducing the likelihood of costly and complex late changes.”
Different scenarios are created and adjusted close to real-time, allowing the engineering team to think creatively about a range of solutions and their potential fit with the success criteria and constraints defined at the outset. Options can then be shared easily with different stakeholders to get their input.
6 reasons to adopt a digital twin:
- The delivery partner can provide timely input on the practicalities of constructing the project – face-to-face or virtually.
- Stakeholder inputs can be generated by interacting with a virtual model linked with network operational intelligence derived from real data, to help reduce the construction period and long-term stakeholder impacts.
- Health and safety impacts of design and construction scenarios can be assessed through risk algorithms and by rehearsing the construction activities in a virtual environment.
- Specialists and installers can provide input into the detailed specification of components.
- Digital rehearsals using predictive traffic for each construction phase can be used to optimise site deliveries and site assembly plans.
- Highway maintenance teams can provide feedback on optimising the design to minimise maintenance and repair costs and to maximise safety during maintenance.
“With the standard elements of design delivered through automation, the delivery team can focus on problem solving and optimisation,” says Brett Buhagiar, Digital Engineering Operations Lead. “Real-time collaboration with subject-matter experts is combined with instant feedback of key metrics – such as delivery time, installation and operational cost, and impact on stakeholders during the project. This enables the engineering team to rapidly construct a series of scenarios using realistic 3D models and simulations – saving time, money and reducing the risks to site workers and stakeholders.”
Connecting and consulting with the community
Public consultation is a key phase in any major project, to ensure that the community and key stakeholders are connected and informed throughout the design and delivery process and are provided opportunities to give feedback. Providing stakeholders with accurate and clear information during this process is important to delivering an effective consultation process, however it can also be time consuming. Having all the information in one place makes it far more efficient to produce the various consultation materials and engage meaningfully.
“A network-wide digital twin is a digital representation of a specific system, which allows a proposed project to be presented in the context of the existing infrastructure network,” adds Libby. “For example, members of the public could explore the impact or benefits that the project would have on their personal commute, incorporating real traffic flow information. The user could adjust the view to explore time of day or season with the ability to view predicted traffic flows in various situations such as rush hour, or at night.
“In another scenario, a national distribution centre for a major on-line retailer could assess the impact of permanent and temporary designs on their transport plans using tools provided by a combination of the digital twin with integrated predictive traffic and journey time information. This would demonstrate evidenced-based needs in consultation feedback and enable them to proactively plan their operations to take account of the various work phases in advance.
“The digital twin could be used to enhance both online and face-to-face consultation. At more traditional public consultation-style events, the consultation team would be equipped with more tools to help answer and provide demonstrations through interactive simulations. For example, if a member of the public is concerned about noise associated with the development, immersive audio would allow them to hear the anticipated noise levels from different positions on a map, or to hear the expected impact of proposed noise screening such as artificial acoustic barriers and natural vegetation.
“It would also allow people to explore not only the finished project, but outline plans for temporary works and the associated disruption during all stages of construction. This would allow individuals to virtually drive through the digital twin on a typical journey and to explore alternative routes, which would mitigate avoidable disruption and increase confidence in the project both during construction and operation.”
Digital Twins in practice
Digital twins can also assist to monitor and adjust design in real-time during construction, anticipating and resolving potential stakeholder concerns before they arise. On the Melbourne Metro Tunnel Project, a system was developed to monitor the air quality, noise and vibrations during major tunnelling and excavation works, ensuring that any parameters that are exceeded are immediately acted upon.
State-wide digital twins are also on the horizon. The New South Wales and Victorian governments are currently planning their respective state-wide digital twin implementations, which will work with the Federal Government’s National Map. By enabling the digital twins to talk to each other across government, relevant information can be shared and maintained from one location, reducing the need for multiple data sets, improving data reliability and increasing efficiency.
The digital twin is an exciting and valuable technology that is being increasingly embraced in Australia. Its collaborative functionality, data reliability and real-life application will improve and reimagine engagement with stakeholders.
To learn more about digital twin technology, contact Brett Buhagiar.