Gavin Cotterill, Consulting Director within our Asia Pacific digital practice, has been supporting development of the business case for the Greater Hobart digital twin.
He explains why Hobart needs a twin, who will use it and the benefits it will bring.

Greater Hobart is experiencing unprecedented growth, with increasing numbers of visitors and new residents every year. Home to around 199,000 people, that figure is expected to reach 227,000 by 2040.

This wave of population growth is increasing the pressure on the region’s legacy social infrastructure, including housing affordability and services, and is also impacting on the natural environment. It makes integrated planning and development critical.

The Hobart City Deal

The Hobart City Deal is a shared, 10-year vision between the Australian and Tasmanian Governments and the Clarence, Glenorchy, Hobart and Kingborough Councils. The City Deal will embrace opportunities for growth and creating a smart, liveable and investment ready City while addressing emerging challenges such as housing affordability, urban renewal and improvements to a lagging transport system.

The commitment to deliver the City Deal, create a more liveable region, and drive economic development, will demand a new way of working across the four Greater Hobart metro councils, in collaboration with their key stakeholders.

With the challenges of this City Deal as context, the Smart Cities Working Group engaged PCSG to develop the business case for a Digital Twin of Greater Hobart; a program which is set to provide the critical, digital infrastructure to deliver the City Deal and beyond.

Why does Greater Hobart need a Digital Twin?

Greater Hobart are looking to digital opportunities to support the City Deal in three main areas:

  • Digital Reform. Helping the four councils work together more effectively through ‘digital amalgamation’: a Digital Twin platform can help the councils share data and fully understand cross-boundary issues involving planning, traffic congestion and public transport uptake.
  • Multimodal Visualisation. Cross-sector planning and place-making: Activating a region or corridor requires a platform in which transport, housing, employment and social infrastructure can be jointly understood and planned cohesively.
  • Economic Investment Friction. Encouraging economic growth and external investment: for Greater Hobart to achieve its economic objectives, it must have a digital means to showcase opportunities and take friction away from investment decisions.
What would a Digital Twin look like for Greater Hobart?

Our work with the Greater Hobart Smart Cities Working Group sought to identify a vision and target state for a Digital Twin environment capable of tackling the above challenges.

A city-scale Digital Twin requires a broad combination of governance, policy, data management processes, user skills and technology.  However, before the specifics of these aspects can be defined, a target state must be described in terms of customers and their use cases.

Working collaboratively with Greater Hobart, we identified three main customers of the Digital Twin:

  • Council Stakeholders: interested in operational efficiencies, planning support and simulation;
  • The Public: interfaces which encourage optimal use of services, such as wayfinding with real-time public transport data.
  • Commercial business: direct, visual access to key investment data points from local footfall to upcoming investment opportunities, in the context of future infrastructure plans.

Supporting these customers, we identified a library of over 20 use cases, ranging from transport, wastes and energy services, through to tourism support and investment decision-making.

Constructing the business case

In addition to the problem, customer and use case definition described above, the business case demonstrated a return on investment and formed the argument that the target state is achievable and realistic.

PCSG developed a methodology to estimate the macro-economic benefits of Digital Twin implementation across each relevant industry sector, providing a range of benefit and cost profiles for distinct option levels.   Leveraging our technical implementation experience of Digital Twin platforms, we underpinned the target state vision and economic case with an assessment of achievability and a roadmap over a number of implementation horizons.

The digital journey continues

On Monday, Hobart will discuss its digital twin programme at a session hosted by the Smart Cities Council. I am very much looking forward to the session, where I will be presenting on the huge value that can be unlocked for those forward-thinking cities that look to implement these sorts of digital twin programmes.

Our work in developing this business case with the Greater Hobart Smart Cities Working Group will ultimately support key advice provided to the Greater Hobart City Deal Implementation Board, and through them to the Joint Ministerial Committee, as to the high-value opportunities to be unlocked through the development of transformative digital infrastructure for Greater Hobart.

We await the further news on the allocation of funding to deliver the GHDT program and start an exciting and ground-breaking Digital Twin journey for the region and Australia.