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Can You See It Yet? Birmingham's Digital Twin Throws Up Opportunities For Property Sector


Birmingham City Council is expected to authorise the creation of the city's digital twin at a meeting next week, and it could mean significant property spin offs.

Senior councillors are set to approve the Digital InnovAtion TransfOrMatIve Change, or DIATOMIC, project after officials submitted a full business case. The two-year-long project is expected to open up opportunities for sustainable building, for the health and tech sectors, and has a special focus on East Birmingham.

Not quite the metaverse, but not quite a standard big data effort, the DIATOMIC twin is intended to position Birmingham as a leading UK city in digital innovation and inclusive innovation.

The £6.1M project involves creating a virtual model of the physical world on a cloud-based data platform, which will gather real-time data such as pollution and traffic congestion. This will enable the twin to run simulations of local challenges that accurately reflect the physical environment, councillors have been told.

Birmingham's digital twin will provide real-life Birmingham's property businesses the chance to hunt out new opportunities, primarily in the clean energy, retrofitting and health innovation sectors. This in turn should help the city's tech businesses and change the way the city council does its business.

The pilot targets East Birmingham and is intended to fit with the council's East Birmingham Inclusive Growth Programme.

There will also be an international dimension. The project will establish a global innovation city twin platform so that other cities plotting the same course can share experiences. Councillors have been told it will form the basis for attracting global investors and businesses by creating “a network of city-to-city collaborative partnerships and connectivity to global markets which will support knowledge exchange, access to skills and support scaling of new approaches and potential for foreign direct and capital investment," the report said.

The project was born in September 2022 when Connected Places Catapult approached Birmingham City Council and five other organisations to join a consortium to bid for Innovate UK Innovation Accelerator funding. 

Partners are Birmingham City University; Aston University; University of Birmingham; the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce; Connected Places Catapult; and BCC.