Piloting an Information Management Framework for Environmental Digital Twins

To realise the value of environmental digital twins they need to be interoperable with other digital twins through a federated model, both between environmental digital twins and to other domains. To enable this, the NERC / Met Office “Towards an Information Management Framework for Environmental Digital Twins” project (IMFe) developed a roadmap for developing this capability. The recommendations from that project form the basis of this work. The paper exercise of the IMFe will be refined into real, substantive implementations of components of an IMFe through the development of the Haig Fras Marine Protected Area (MPA) Digital Twin with the explicit ambition of using this twin, and others, to develop the standards, protocols and components that make up an IMFe. At the heart of this project is the principle that the developments are made publicly accessible and reusable by design. Digital environmental infrastructure developments at BAS, BGS and CEH will benefit from, and contribute to, the Haig Fras pilot study. We will use agile approaches to ensure that the developments are reusable within this subset of twin infrastructures, with effort within the project being devoted to iterate capabilities across different infrastructures to maximise interoperability of components. A digital twin asset register, developed in this project, will ensure that components and concepts are reusable in future projects and opportunities for delivering interoperability are fully explored. This sharing and co-development / co-design will also be extended to other key developers at, for example, the Met Office and the Alan Turing Institute through an active community of practice. To ensure momentum in the national aligned efforts for environmental digital twins a forum for senior stakeholders will be supported. The consortium is active in national and international programmes, and these will be engaged to ensure wide uptake of the project outcomes, through e.g. MEDIN, DTGeo, the UN Decade of Ocean Science and DITTO, Turtle and many others. The development of digital twins for monitoring an MPA is timely, with ocean protection a policy priority. Haig Fras is well suited as a pilot digital twin as it is a tractable scale problem, is relatively well-observed and studied and will imminently be the subject of a call for evidence by the Marine Monitoring Organisation. Monitoring of seafloor communities requires metrics important to assessment, policy development and governance. Marine photography is increasingly used as a low cost, accessible and non destructive method of capturing community status [3]. Haig Fras seabed habitats and communities were surveyed in 2012 and 2015 using Autosub6000, which collected hundreds of thousands of seafloor images and other environmental data. When completed, the digital twin will allow a more complete view by integrating baseline data such as seafloor geology, combined with observations, dynamic model outputs and will facilitate the application of “big data” and artificial intelligence tools to provide an accessible representation of our seas and oceans for scientists, governments and marine operators. The full potential capabilities of the twin will not be realised within the scope of this project.

PI: John Siddorn, NOC

Email: john.siddorn@noc.ac.uk

Project Dates: 
October 2022 to October 2023