East Birmingham’s ‘digital twin’ will drive innovation and improvements in the city

A ‘digital twin’ to comprehensively model and test pathways to clean energy and net zero emissions in East Birmingham is planned in a new partnership.

The University of Birmingham, Birmingham City Council and Siemens are working on a feasibility study to demonstrate how a virtual representation of energy and transport infrastructure in East Birmingham and the Tyseley Environmental Enterprise District ( TEED) will help chart the paths to decarbonization.

The goal of the digital twin is to provide a digital test bed where the impacts of innovations such as smart homes, clean air zones or neighborhood growth strategies can be modeled and analyzed in a digital-first environment. real investment, ensuring that every pound spent produces the expected results. .

The feasibility report describes how a digital twin could enable scenario planning for energy retrofit activities. This would allow planners to model different measures across housing types – from single-family homes to high-rise buildings – to find those that maximize benefits for residents and the environment. These can be tested locally and then scaled city-wide into the digital world.

Depending on the partnership, it could also support and inform national dialogue on innovation, systems resilience, climate change and the race to the top. The study will serve as the basis for a funding offer to fully realize the project, which will then help unlock new investment and develop a clear path for net-zero and city-wide planning.

It is one of the few digital twin projects of this scale and, if successful, the project will be a beacon for similar initiatives elsewhere in the UK and around the world.

Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Birmingham Energy Institute, said: “Digital twins offer cities a bridge between the real and digital world, where smart buildings and infrastructure share information with a virtual environment. This technology has huge potential to accelerate decarbonisation and it is exciting to see this work taking shape in East Birmingham.

“The University of Birmingham is proud to work in partnership with the City Council, Siemens and others to develop this initial framework which we hope will stimulate the investment needed to achieve a digital twin for the city.”

Andrew Smyth, Head of Data Services, EMEA at Siemens Advanta, said: “With climate change already posing challenges to UK infrastructure and our economy, net zero is a business and societal imperative. Our extensive know-how and expertise in implementing digital twin technology enables us to provide the City of Birmingham with the support it needs to base its decisions on sound, tested information, reducing risk and maximizing benefits. »

Councilor Jayne Francis, Cabinet Member for Digital, Culture, Heritage and Tourism, said: “A digital twin for Birmingham would give us an integrated planning tool to help us tackle the big challenges we face, like going to net zero and scaling up; this feasibility study for East Birmingham is a first step in realizing that reality.

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