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Digital twins and land development in Queensland

Digital twins and land development in Queensland

Digital twins offer a powerful tool for planning and decision-making in Queensland. But how exactly will they help design, build and improve the places Queenslanders live, work and play?

What is a digital twin?

A digital twins is a precise digital replica or representation of a real-world object, system, or process. Put another way, a digital twin is a model of a physical thing powered by real-time data, accurately simulated, and visualised in detail.

There are many uses for digital twins – one useful application the Queensland Government is currently exploring is applying this technology to planning and developing liveable, sustainable, and interconnected precincts.

What do digital twins have to do with precinct development?

Imagine you're planning a road trip and you're using a map to navigate. If the map is outdated or incomplete, you might take a wrong turn and end up getting lost.

Similarly, if a government is using infrastructure and spatial data to make decisions about where to build new roads, buildings, or even communities, it's important that the data is accurate and up to date so that they can make informed decisions.

Now imaging you’re taking a long journey and you’re going to need to use multiple maps showing different features. If any one of those maps is missing or outdated, you could get lost. A digital twin can ensure that all of the government’s ‘maps’ are in one place, always up-to-date and consistent, and easily accessible.

When accurate information is coordinated across government agencies, decisions can be made more efficiently and accurately than ever before. Spending less time getting the ‘maps’ in order means it’s easier to reach the destination on time and safely.

When it comes to precinct development, this means that digital twins could help government use fewer public resources to make better public decisions – about utilities, roads, footpaths, buildings, parks, and more.

Your place in space

An office tower, while being an obvious and discrete physical entity, is also a data point. It exists in the real world – and whatever occupied its space before does not.

The building also impacts larger spaces in many other ways: it is connected to utilities, deflects and reflects light, absorbs and radiates heat, interferes with or amplifies signals, channels wind, and casts a moving shadow.

Where infrastructure is generating and interacting with data of public interest, it is in the interest of the public that the data is made useful. When governments, their stakeholders and collaborators have access to better data, that services the public interest by enabling better decision making.

The technology could be used, for instance, to better identify development and planning opportunities, especially as the state moves towards place-based planning – collaborative, long-term approaches designed to meet the unique needs of a community or region.

How this digital ecosystem will be developed in Queensland – and Australia – will be arguably one of the most interesting technological challenges of this century.

Digital twin projects in action: London and Dublin

In the UK, Opportunity Areas (OAs) form part of the London Plan: a spatial development strategy to identify and act on key locations for new homes, jobs and infrastructure within Britain’s largest city.

Earlier this year, Dublin City Council revealed the results of a digital twin project which examined different ways to decarbonise its social housing stock.

The project modelled real-time simulations created by Virtual Environment software to measure the environmental benefits of four ‘energy efficient’ strategies (from minor refits to full rebuilds) across three residential tower blocks in the city centre.

The full report, Digital Twin Modelling for Climate Resilient Housing (PDF) was able to identify strategies allowing each residential block to achieve an 85 per cent reduction in cumulative emissions.

Planning for a digital future

Digital twins are emerging as a leading tool to present a more comprehensive understanding of the world. Beyond the applications already discussed, digital twins have potential applications in precinct and infrastructure development through modelling population dynamics and movements to optimise accessibility and efficiency, anticipating and modelling the impact of natural disasters on the community and infrastructure, and building resilient infrastructure.

Digital twins could also help improve emergency management by monitoring infrastructure and populations in real time, and better coordination and planning response, recovery and reconstruction efforts.

Stay tuned for more developments in this exciting space.

Last updated: 25 Aug 2023