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Principles for Spatially Enabled Digital Twins of the Built and Natural Environment in Australia

Foundation spatial (or location) data is essential for effective decision-making across our built and natural environment. Increasingly there is a need to integrate this data with other information such as digital engineering models, Internet of Things (IoT) sensor data and environmental data to provide more holistic insights.

In recent years, digital twins – being highly advanced digital representations of the real world – have emerged as a powerful tool to better harness and integrate data to understand our physical environment. The value of digital twins increases substantially when combined with underpinning spatial data, which positions digital twins relative to each other to reflect the real world.

Spatially enabled digital twins can provide valuable location-based insights, helping users to understand place-based policy and planning issues, test potential interventions, and deliver more sustainable planning and development.


digital twin house


To help drive a nationally consistent approach to spatially enabled digital twins, ANZLIC has collaborated across governments, industry and the research sector to develop the Principles for Spatially Enabled Digital Twins of the Built and Natural Environment in Australia.

The principles draw on the UK’s Centre for Digital Built Britain’s (CDBB) Gemini Principles published in 2018, and describe high-level principles, benefits and use cases for spatially enabled digital twins in the Australian context. The principles also outline the vision of a federated ecosystem of securely shared digital twins and their value for the Australian economy.

To develop the principles, ANZLIC collaborated with CSIRO’s Data61 and the Smart Cities Council Australia and New Zealand (SCCANZ), and consulted with leaders across Australia and New Zealand representing the geospatial and space industry, surveying and land information, smart cities, planning, architecture, engineering, construction, infrastructure, transport, indigenous, environment, data and digital transformation, local government, government service, and research. The outputs of ANZLIC’s consultation with key stakeholders are available here.

Alongside these principles, SCCANZ has released its Digital Twin Guidance Note which provides guidance for digital twin developers and operators across Australia and New Zealand. SCCANZ has also created the Australia and New Zealand Digital Twin Hub which provides a platform for the digital twin community to share knowledge and network.

The NSW Spatial Digital Twin was launched in March 2020 and Victoria’s digital twin proof of concept continues to be developed.

Data61 has collaborated with Queensland to develop a Framework for Spatially Enabled Digital Twins, which includes a Summary and an Information Paper.

A collaborative approach across governments, industry, the research sector and the community will help realise the full benefits and best possible outcomes of a digital twin ecosystem in Australia. 

Image source: Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Victoria