NSW Liveable City

Liveable City Digital Twin Pilot: Analytics for agile decision making

The Challenge

A robust city modelling framework is essential if local, state and national governments are to move towards sustainable built environments and work together across complex multi-sectoral problems to drive impact on urban liveability and climate adaptability. Currently there is a lack of a publicly available, broadscale 3D digital information of the impact of the urban landscape and building design on urban heat islands, street shading and walkability. This project aimed to develop a demonstration Digital Twin which will embed the required analytics within a 3D city modelling framework to address these critical challenges within the built environment.


The project partners included the GRID lab at University of New South Wales (UNSW), the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network (AURIN) through the University of Melbourne, the NSW Department of Customer Service, Spatial Services Division, the QLD Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME), CSIRO Data61 and Astrolabe Group.

The Solution

This project developed an operational Digital Twin to capture and visualise situational information. It is the first of three stages, with stage one being the Precinct Pilot – an analytics-aided and standards-based 3D/4D Digital Twin applied to an urban liveability and climate adaptability use case for a precinct in Western Sydney, NSW. The stage two and three projects are planned as a State Demonstrator and a National Framework respectively.

This project developed ‘sense-making’ analytics and appropriate interfaces to demonstrate 3D/4D spatial analysis and augment decision-making capacity using emerging 3D technology. The Precinct Pilot concentrated on applying 3D analytics to urban micro-climate, including urban heat islands, temperature propagation, shadowing and its effect on pedestrian thermal comfort, mobility and walkability. The developments can be grouped as follows:

  • Developing procedures to enable querying and update of Digital Twins, using information from existing data portals (e.g., NSW Spatial Services, AURIN, Transport for NSW, Data.NSW, BoM, UNSW) and further derived analytics via an integrated and extensible online interface.
  • Preparing a set of operational algorithms, corresponding functions and operations, through extensible interfaces and appropriate environments to enable 3D and real-time data streams within an integrated analytical treatment for situational awareness.

Conceptually, Digital Twins have the potential to transform the design, management and performance of the built environment. This project represents a critical examination and development of situational awareness, bringing analytical capabilities and continued maintenance of Digital Twins. The project:

  • Advanced Digital Twin analytics and functionality for governments, developers and clients.
  • Demonstrated a technically-robust framework for scalability and deployment.
  • Provided an easy-to-understand web portal including 3D visualisation and information dashboards.
  • Identified areas in need of further research.

This Digital Twin framework has facilitated application across several industries, namely, construction, asset management, planning/design and insurance. For example, the ability to easily extract metrics for buildings and spaces in the insurance industry enabled:

  • Client applications to be substantially streamlined and maintained up-to-date with essential criteria autogenerated.
  • A better understanding of the assets insured and the ability for the insurer to assess risk objectively and in detail – resulting in lower premiums for compliant applications.
  • A better evidence-base in the event of litigation or dispute.

To learn more, contact FrontierSI at contact@frontiersi.com.au or Project Manager Phil Delaney, at pdelaney@frontiersi.com.au.