National digital twin means better data, better decisions and better outcomes

The Gemini Principles will underpin the develop an ecosystem of digital twins. Mark Enzer explains more about a landmark digital development for infrastructure.

Digital transformation is advancing apace in the built environment. While technology greatly facilitates progress, the information that sits behind technology is the longer-lasting golden thread that connects everything together. And the ‘information value chain’ reveals the core value proposition – the connection between better data, better decisions and better outcomes for the public.  

Clearly, information is an asset that should be valued and managed effectively. So, setting clear definitions and principles will help the industry to align on the shared journey towards effective information management across the built environment.

In developing the Gemini Principles, the Digital Framework Task Group (DFTG) has brought together stakeholders from government, industry and academia to start building consensus on the definitions and values that will guide the development of digital twins and enable improved information management in our sector.

Digital twins are realistic digital representations of physical things. They unlock value by enabling improved insights that support better decisions, leading to better outcomes in the physical world. Connecting digital twins to create a national digital twin (NDT) will unlock additional value. The National Infrastructure Commission’s report Data for the public good recommended the development of a national digital twin, which will become a national resource for improving the performance, quality of service and value delivered by assets, processes and systems in the built environment. The NDT will not be a huge singular model of the entire built environment. Rather, it will be an ecosystem of digital twins connected via securely shared data.

And a practical framework is required to enable the effective management of information that is fundamental for the creation of a national digital twin. The information management framework, and the move towards an NDT, will enable better use, operation, maintenance, planning and delivery of national and local assets, systems and services.

Fundamentally, digital twins must have clear purpose, must be trustworthy and must function effectively.  All the Gemini Principles flow from this. They are deliberately simple, but their implications are far-reaching and challenging. They are descriptive of intent, but agnostic on solutions, so they are meant to encourage flexibility for innovation and development over time. We intend the Gemini Principles to be a living document that will respond to innovation as the NDT develops, so your feedback is not just welcome, but invited. Please contact us at 

The next output of the DFTG is intended be a roadmap that will provide a prioritised plan for delivering the information management framework and we plan to publish this in early 2019. Now is the time for action.  We invite asset owners, mayors and other leaders in the built environment to embrace the Gemini Principles in the development of their own digital twins.

Mark Enzer is the chair of the digital framework task group, Gemini Principles.