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ACE News

20 JUN 2019

WORK TOGETHER TO AVOID DIGITAL CHAOS, SAYS INFRASTRUCTURE TECH TSAR 

The man leading the government’s drive to guide the development and adoption of a digital framework for infrastructure data, Mark Enzer, said it was essential that the industry collaborated on data sharing to avoid chaos breaking out.

Mott MacDonald chief technical officer Enzer, who also chairs the Centre for Digital Built Britain’s Digital Framework Task Group, was speaking at ACE’s Digital Leadership Conference on 20 June 2019. Speaking about the development of digital twins and a national digital twin, Enzer said it was crucial to get the whole of the industry working together and sharing information.

“Creating an ecosystem of connected twins – it’s all about enabling secure, connected data sharing,” Enzer said. “Working across a common vision and common standards, we absolutely need to collaborate. The Darwinian approach of letting everyone do their own thing would only lead to chaos, so bringing people together is essential,” he said. 

Enzer highlighted the importance of the new Digital Twin Hub (DT Hub). “This will enable an open, collaborative learning community that will define the standards for digital twins going forward,” he said. “The hub can become a forge for growing standards – learning by doing – and for business case studies. It can be a real engine for creating for what the industry needs and it’s open to everyone. There are low barriers to entry and large medium and small firms can all input, so everyone benefits,” said Enzer.

Enzer also praised the government for taking a unified approach to digital infrastructure. “We are getting some well aligned messages from government in this area, with the Industrial Strategy and the national Infrastructure Commission’s Data for the public good report. This approach will help us move towards having a national digital twin and bring together parties across government, industry and academia to achieve that,” he said.

The Digital Framework Task Group has been developing the basic planning that will underpin digital transformation in the infrastructure sector and its road map charts the first few years of what could be a 30-year journey, Enzer said. He also outlined a number of key areas that were informing the task group’s thinking. 

“We need to recognise infrastructure as a system of systems. New projects are interventions on a system that is already there and it’s all about making people’s lives better and improving societal outcomes,” said. Enzer also stressed the importance of digital assets and seeing infrastructure as a cyber physical system. “We need to pump up the digital side and join up with physical infrastructure”. It was also crucial to see the information value chain showing the direct link between data and outcomes, he said. “Better analysis and data gives us better outcomes and all the products and services in infrastructure have a role to play,” said Enzer.

His comments were well received at the packed-out conference at the Royal Academy of Engineering in London, with many contributions from the floor commenting on Enzer’s and the conference’s refreshingly open tone and approach to a subject that will have a significant and profound impact on the infrastructure sector and the way it does business in the future. 

This article originally appeared in Infrastructure Intelligence

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