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Birmingham organisations collaborate on digital twin project

Digital twin of urban area
Image source: Burova

A partnership of organisations is working on a feasibility study for the use of a digital twin in planning for decarbonisation of a district in the east of Birmingham.

The University of Birmingham, Birmingham City Council and Siemens are aiming to apply the model to energy and transport infrastructure in the East Birmingham and Tyseley Environmental Enterprise District (TEED).

This would provide a digital testbed for modelling and analysing innovations in smart homes, clean air zones and neighbourhood growth strategies ahead of any investment in specific initiatives.

The feasibility report is intended to describe how a digital twin – which provides a digital representation of real world systems and environments – could enable scenario planning for energy related retrofit activities. Plans could be tested at a local level then scaled up in the digital world.

According to the partnership, it could also support and inform the national dialogue on innovation, systems resilience, climate change and levelling up. The study will be used as the foundation for a funding bid to fully realise the project which will then go on to help unlock further investment and develop a clear pathway for net zero and city-wide planning.

Acceleration potential

Professor Martin Freer, director of the Birmingham Energy Institute, said: “Digital twins provide cities with a bridge between the real and digital world, where smart buildings and infrastructure share information with a virtual environment.

“This technology has huge potential to accelerate decarbonisation and it’s exciting to see this work taking shape in East Birmingham.

Cllr Jayne Francis, cabinet member for digital, culture, heritage and tourism, said: “A digital twin for Birmingham would give us a joined up planning tool to help tackle the big challenges facing us like moving to net zero and levelling up. This feasibility study for East Birmingham is a first step to realising this reality.”

 Andrew Smyth, head of data services, EMEA at Siemens Advanta, said digital twin technology “enables us to provide the city of Birmingham with the support they need to base their decisions on robust and tested insights, reducing risk and maximising the benefits".

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