Peter Curtis, Digital Twin Service Owner and Neil Anderson, Scottish CTO, both leaders at Sopra Steria, discuss how a National Digital Twin could underpin Climate Confidence across Scotland.

The climate emergency is on every nation’s agenda. Many solutions have been considered, but one yet to be explored is how a Digital Twin supports Scotland meeting its net-zero commitments by 2045. 

A Digital Twin may be the latest buzzword, but the premise has long been used by the academic, automotive, aerospace and utilities sectors. Simply, a Digital Twin is a virtual replica of a real-world entity – an asset, product, process or environment.

You can model and monitor carbon embodiments and situations, then simulate ‘what if’ mitigations ultimately driving more sustainable practices. However, to gain this insight, key areas must be addressed.

Government leadership

Digital Twins remain underfunded and underdeveloped in government, largely due to low awareness. However, government is primed to lead here, with its focus on climate, land usage and biodiversity alongside investment in post-Covid recovery throughout Scotland.

Investment in joining the data and making Digital Twins viable will create insights that better shape policy decisions and predict actions that deliver tangible outcomes. Scottish Government investment focus would spark a data revolution leveraging Scottish skills and heritage –strengthening Edinburgh’s “data capital of Europe” ambitions.

Digital maturity

Alongside the awareness issue is a lack of digital maturity.  Often, organisations are unclear on measurable benefits. In reality, KPMG found that organisations can achieve a 6:1 return on investment here.

The recently published Programme for Government lays out strategic policy and requires progress in key areas such as the environment, economic recovery, land usage and biodiversity. Not only can a Digital Twin provide the Scottish Government insight supporting these goals but can dramatically reduce costs by “failing fast” – discounting unviable options and focusing funds at optimal investment.  

This challenge, alongside the private sector, maps how digital and information management meet targets. Then, it’s about building proof of values to test viability of a strategy and if successful, confidently build a roadmap to scale.

Open and shared data

Buy-in from all three sectors is vital to realising a National Digital Twin. So too is the sharing of data. However, organisations may be hesitant, worried about intellectual property and security. 

Non-profit organisations such as the Open Data Institute, have already begun re-educating that sharing is about appropriateness.

Final thoughts

The time is right for Government to invest in joining its data internally and with the private sector. The insights and best actions understood from the Digital Twin can provide both climate and recovery confidence, with Government stimulating the market to produce a vibrant, fairer, greener Scotland.