Digital Twins – How can they help the South West to decarbonise?

Could the use of Digital Twins aid and accelerate the net zero transition in South West England? 

Catch up on the recording of our recent workshop in partnership with the Data Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure (DAFNI).

The session discusses how digital representations of the physical world might unlock new opportunities for the decarbonisation of infrastructure in the region.


The workshop included:

  • An introduction to Digital Twins – Prof Colin Taylor, University of Bristol
  • An introduction to the DAFNI Facility – Dr Brian Matthews, DAFNI 
  • Experiences of Digital Twins in other sectors – Dr James Gopsill and Prof Ben Hicks, University of Bristol
  • A demo of the DAFNI platform – Tom Gowland, DAFNI
  • Sheffield’s Transport Digital Twin case study – Prof Daniel Coca, University of Sheffield
  • A discussion of how Digital Twins might help the many aspects of regional decarbonisation, identifying opportunities, needs and barriers.

A recording of the break-out group activity is not available.


The SWIP Net Zero Integrating Route Map, launched on 13 May 2021, identified the vital role of digital tools in aiding the collaborative learning and modelling that are essential to reshape future infrastructure provision that will underpin net zero in perpetuity.

One such digital tool is the so-called Digital Twin. This is a multi-faceted digital representation of a physical system, which, amongst other capabilities, captures the state of the system and enables simulations and forecasts of its future behaviour, given changes to the system and its environment.

The Digital Twin will inevitably become an essential tool in the kit for SWIP’s proposed South West Collaboratory, a living laboratory that will accelerate learning and collaboration in finding out what works, what doesn’t, and why, as we strive to deliver decarbonisation.

Digital Twins already have a successful pedigree in the aerospace and manufacturing sectors. Research is in progress to adapt this experience to the breadth and variety of systems that comprise infrastructure.

As part of the £138m UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC), the Data Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure (DAFNI) is launching its digital platform, which will enable the development of integrated Digital Twins. SWIP is partnering with DAFNI to explore what role the platform might play in aiding regional decarbonisation.

The information from the workshop will feed into SWIP’s strategic planning and work programme for 2021-22, which might include a DAFNI-supported exploratory Digital Twin ‘Hackathon’ in Autumn 2021.