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Australia’s NSW to build A$40m digital twin

The spatial digital twin brings together government data sources to provide insights for urban planners and residents to support decision-making and see into the future

Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) is investing A$40m in a spatial digital twin that will facilitate urban planning and development of the country’s most populous state.

The digital twin brings together data sources from across government including spatial, natural resources and planning, and integrates it with real-time feeds from sensors to provide insights for planners, designers and decision-makers across industry and government.

It currently hosts virtual representations of eight high-growth council areas including the Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Penrith and Wollondilly. It will be rolled out across the state over the next two years.

Victor Dominello, NSW’s minister for digital and customer service, said the initiative was an evolutionary leap when it came to shaping communities and boosting productivity, allowing residents, developers and planners to see into the future.

“This digital architecture makes it possible to visualise a development digitally before it is physically built, making it easier to plan and predict outcomes of infrastructure projects, right down to viewing how shadows fall, or how much traffic is in an area,” he said.

In the past 12 months, the spatial digital twin has received 18 million requests for access to 3D datasets. The information is also available on mobile devices.

“By boosting access to the spatial digital twin through smartphones and tablets, the NSW government is making it easier for customers to collaborate and gain planning information about their streets, neighbourhoods and communities,” said Dominello.

“This digital advancement delivers on the NSW government’s commitment to make data more accessible for the people of NSW,” he added.

The mobile-friendly version was delivered by the department of customer service’s spatial services team in partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and Data61, its data and digital research arm.

NSW’s digital twin initiative is part of the Live.NSW programme, through which a new customer platform will be developed to enable people to search for information based on their needs and places of interest.

For example, the platform would bring information together to inform people about local schools or a proposed hospital, creating a snapshot of what exists and what is planned.

“The Live.NSW customer platform can be used to inform life decisions like where to move based on school catchments, as well as improving engagement with government planning and delivery,” said Dominello.

“Live.NSW will be highly visual, interactive and easy to use, with customers able to search their suburb and check information available in their area that is relevant to their needs.

“Now, no matter where you are in the state, Live.NSW will make it easy for the community to see infrastructure and its impact before it’s built and ensure new projects keep the community at their heart,” he added.

The Live.NSW customer platform will launch in early 2022.

The NSW government has allocated A$2.1bn across four years to invest in digital transformation projects through the Digital Restart Fund, which supports technology solutions that create efficiencies in delivering citizen services.

Besides governments, industries such as manufacturing and real estate have been leveraging digital twin technology to simulate processes and identity inefficiencies early on. For example, Australian property developer Lendlease is already using digital twins to address rising costs and declining productivity in the construction sector.

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