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DUConnect #3: Reliable Digital Twin(s) for Future Underground Construction

How will reliable information of the underground benefit large infrastructure development projects? Following the previous exploration of reliable data capture in DUConnect #2, the third edition of Digital Underground Connect focused on underground construction, one particular use case that strongly benefits from the availability of reliable data.

See the video summary below.

Despite increasing concerns and measures related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, we were happy to welcome a full house of attendees at the Digital Advancement Academies Hub, with representatives from government agencies, infrastructure developers, surveyors, and academia. We thank all participants - attending in person or via webinar - for their interest and contributions.


A 3D geological data model and geodata system for Singapore

The first speaker of the event was Professor Chu Jian, Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Nanyang Technological University of Singapore. In his presentation, Professor Chu informed the audience about GeM2S, a newly developed data management and sharing system for geological and geotechnical data in Singapore. The project is a collaboration between NTU, BCA, URA, and LTA and integrates various geotechnical and geological data into a single consolidated and fully digital platform.

Professor Chu demonstrated how the data available on the platform could benefit the planning and design of (potential) underground construction projects. The availability of such data can lead to significant efficiency gains, both for the design of new infrastructure itself as well as for the acquisition of new borehole data. Upon conclusion of the presentation, attendees from underground developers showed their interest in both using and contributing to that dataset.


Digital delivery for underground infrastructure

The second presentation of the day was given by Daniel Dean. Dan is Digital Network Lead for Mott MacDonald in East Asia. He has been involved in the design of many underground infrastructure projects, including major ones in Singapore. Dan shared his experiences working with available data on existing assets and made a strong case for the availability of accurate, 3D, and digital data to private developers.

Dan shared his vision of a Connected Data Environment to the audience: An environment for all stakeholders to benefit from that enables the Integrated Delivery of a project and provides progressive assurance as the project develops from planning to design and from construction to eventual delivery. He observed that such an environment greatly improves the sharing of data, collaboration, and risk management of complex underground projects.


Workshop: Curation and delivery of a digital twin of the underground

The event was concluded with a workshop and discussion session. Following two inspiring talks that provided plenty of food for thought, participants were asked to discuss the following questions:

  • Data Management - Who should manage a digital twin of the underground?

  • Data Sharing - How can users best benefit from a digital twin?

  • Data Use - How can users best "consume" the digital twin in their own environments?

Here are some of the key points that were raised:

The need for a common, bi-directional data environment.

Participants argued that all stakeholders involved in underground construction projects should in principle be able to benefit from the best available data and collaborate in a common (and connected) environment. However, this concept should not be limited to data consumption only, as valuable data (e.g. geotechnical observations, digital twins of the project itself) will be produced throughout and project and should somehow be fed back into the environment.

Clarity on data responsibility and data use

Another set of conversations focused on the need to clearly define who is responsible for curating a digital twin, and assigning specific capacity for that task (e.g. in the form of a Chief Information Officer). Also, for all available data, the quality and suitability for particular applications should be clearly described.

Openness is key, but security can't be ignored

A recurring theme in discussions surrounding data in Singapore is that of openness. While there are obvious security concerns when it comes to sharing certain data, all participants generally agree that openness is the way forward, both in terms of the data itself as well as the standards that are used for the exchange of data.

After the workshop we have interviewed both speakers. You can view the recordings below. (2nd recording will be available soon).

We thank the speakers and the participants for their valuable contributions. Are you keen to join the next DUConnect event? Subscribe to our mailing list to stay informed!


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