New digital twin launched to help plan and build Western Sydney

CSIRO’s Data61 has launched a digital twin of Western Sydney in a demonstration that is set to become a step change in urban planning for the region.

The digital twin was developed by Data61, the digital specialist arm of Australia’s national science agency, and NSW Department of Customer Service’s Spatial Services.

The open platform is a 4D (3D + time) model of Western Sydney’s built and natural environment that allows users to visualise 3D and 4D data such as buildings, strata plans, terrain, property boundaries, utilities including power, water and sewer pipes.

Data61 Geospatial Web Systems Group Leader Mats Henrikson said the technology will allow planners, developers and policymakers to make more informed decisions, saving costs and creating efficiencies.

“The digital twin represents a step change in how we visualise environments and processes taking place in them. Till now decision makers have referred to property boundaries in 2D. Having them available in 3D together with how they have changed over time, and being able to easily share this with other related data makes it much easier to fully understand the context of the boundaries,” Henrikson said.

“Cities have never been so data rich as a result of connected sensors and many are growing vertically in addition to horizontally. This creates incredible opportunities to overlay 3D/4D data from satellite and drone technologies which is spatially accurate, to show the bigger picture of what’s happening above and below the ground over time.

“An infrastructure developer can now use the digital twin to identify the location of underground utilities before building works commence, or see the potential impact of planned future infrastructure.”

The digital twin also allows the government to communicate plans for infrastructure development to citizens.

It can be accessed by a web browser and includes built-in security features to ensure only authorised individuals have access to certain types of data.

The first phase of the NSW Spatial Digital Twin includes visualisations of the local government areas that comprise the Western Sydney City Deal and Greater Parramatta to the Olympic Peninsula. Future phases of the digital twin in collaboration with NSW Spatial Services will include other areas of NSW.

Data-driven urban management is predicted to be a $5-10 billion export opportunity in the Asia-Pacific region by 2028.

Data61 acting Director Simon Barry said the new visualisation brought together world-leading expertise in spatial visualisation, analytics and privacy preserving technologies from across the national science agency.

“By partnering with government and industry across the country, we can harness these technologies into federal collaboration platform enhancing Australia’s smart cities and delivering significant benefit to Australia’s economy,” Barry said.

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