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The New Zealand Digital Twin Summit debrief

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

By: Adam Beck and Gavin Cotterill, Co-Hosts | Digital Built Australia Podcast

Last week the digital twin community in New Zealand gathered for its third key event in the past four years.


The first was an invitation only gathering in Wellington in 2017, followed by a public event in July 2021. More than 120 people then gathered for the 2022 instalment on July 7th in Wellington to again assess progress and discuss key opportunities.


The notable observations were the audience – it was larger than the previous years, and more diverse in terms of sectors and disciplines represented. With the introduction of digital twin platform vendors, the event was even more complete in perspectives.


There was a broad scope of content that included both the built and natural environment, and a strengthening connection to the Te Ao Māori view.


The Summit program can be viewed here, but the core components included panels and interactive workshops on:

  • Digital twin for environment and resilience

  • Digital twin from strategy to roadmap

  • Digital twin for assets and infrastructure

  • Digital twin for all – building a thriving marketplace

Leading international case studies were on show, including Digital Twin Victoria. Multiple references were made to the work of the Centre for Digital Built Britain, and its national digital twin perspective (also an approach shared by New Zealand).


However, it was great to see leadership from Marlborough district council in developing their own Digital Twin vision and strategy. We look forward to seeing how Marlborough progress their DT journey.


We also observed the strong digital engineering narrative that was underpinning many of the case studies – a good sign for building a digital twin market.


Digital Twin technology capability was demonstrated through the AWS TwinMaker and it will be interesting to see Twin-maker’s journey over the next year.


Data was the main topic of discussion, and how it is the common thread in digital twin advancement.


And as much as there was discussion about data, there was confirmation of the importance of people. Almost to the extent that we don’t trust ourselves with the technology! (More on this in future posts).


But amongst the great content on the day, several gaps in our discussions were obvious. There was very little raised about:

  • Alignment of government initiatives to the NZ digital twin

  • Operations and maintenance opportunities for Digital Twin

  • Digital twin policy, programs and funding

  • Standards for digital twin terminology, use cases or reference architecture

  • Strategy and business case development - including use cases

  • Governance arrangements

  • Activating programs.

So, after nearly four years of digital twin dialogue, where are we at with the NZ Digital Twin narrative and progress?


Well, based on the things we didn’t hear from the digital twin community, there is still some guidance required to harness the strong interest and the good intention if a national Digital Twin agenda is to be pursued.


This is how we think things could now evolve:

  1. Option 1: the private sector and academia do nothing and let government drive the agenda

  2. Option 2: councils develop and implement their own Digital Twin strategies independent of national government

  3. Option 3: the private sector brings non-government stakeholders together to write a plan to present to national government to mobilise a national Digital Twin plan

  4. Option 4: private sector self-fund a strategy and business case on opportunities to take to government for funding and acceleration

And yes, there are likely to be some possible hybrid options among those presented above, but the four options presented seem most relevant for the position that New Zealand is in, with a small population base and only two tiers of government.


These conditions should be conducive to decisive action. International leadership is within sight.


The market is awaiting someone to step up and steward the opportunity.

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Ario Susanto
Ario Susanto
Jul 21, 2022

have we come to agreement to what a DT actually is? spatial/ geometrical/ data/ behavioral/ analytical/ all of this and more?

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