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Forum and hackathon aim to co-ordinate cross-sector digital twinning

Stephen Cousins

More efficient building, circular economy, less waste and unified standards could result from Apollo Forum, which aims to develop digital twinning across sectors such as construction and manufacturing

Credit: GettyImages

Architects are being urged to join a new forum and a series of ‘hack events’ to spearhead the development of digital twins linking the built environment and manufacturing sectors.

The Apollo Forum is the first stage in the development of the Apollo Protocol, a government-backed framework that will set out how the built environment and manufacturing sectors should formalise the co-ordination of digital twins and develop a common language and business models.

The initiative is detailed in a new white paper and led by organisations including BEIS, the Institute of Engineering and Technology, the Construction Leadership Council, the Centre for Digital Built Britain and the Construction Innovation Hub, with funding from Innovate UK.

Architects from practices of any size, particularly those with a focus on sustainability and low carbon construction, are being encouraged to join the Apollo Forum to work with other cross-sector stakeholders to brainstorm the development of digital twins and map out the beginnings of a unified approach under the Apollo Protocol.

Apollo Forum.
Apollo Forum. Credit: Apollo Forum

Su Butcher, a contributor to and whitepaper and member of the IET Built Environment Panel explained: ‘The Apollo Forum is a great place for architects to get involved in discussions about their and their clients’ data and information management needs. If you or your clients want to assess the performance carbon impact of products, or want to contribute to environmental, social, and governance requirements by improving the efficiency and longevity of products and systems in the buildings you design, we’d like you to participate.’

According to the whitepaper, the Apollo Forum’s mission is to create and define the Apollo Protocol to ‘bridge sectors and untangle and align cultural, process and technological factors’. It will draw up a plan to address the challenges and opportunities of cross-sector digital twins.

Work in the forum will begin with a series of four in-person hack events, starting on 17 November in Sheffield, with a follow up open Zoom meeting a week later for those who cannot attend in person. Architects can sign up for the events via the Apollo Protocol Network page on the Digital Twin Hub.

Apollo cover.
Apollo cover. Credit: IET

The first hack session will focus on identifying potential use cases for cross-sector digital twins and information management.

According to Butcher, a harmonised approach to digital twins between sectors can unlock a great deal of value for the construction sector, helping solve pressing problems such as the energy performance gap and circularity.

The current tendency to work in silos between sectors with different approaches, language and standards prevents interoperability, creating a barrier to progress.

It should open up new market opportunities for asset owners, she says, ‘through up-to-date information management and digital twins enabling the best possible performance and better maintenance procedures that reduce waste’. Contractors will benefit from ‘more informed construction techniques and on-site management processes,’ she concludes.


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