NSW Digital Twin to improve bushfire planning


By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Monday, 21 December, 2020


NSW Digital Twin to improve bushfire planning

The NSW Department of Customer Service’s Spatial Services division has teamed up with the CSIRO’s Data61 to make the state government’s Digital Twin available to assist emergency services in developing effective emergency management strategies.

The Digital Twin Visualisation Service, developed in collaboration with Data61, will be updated with a new 3D spatial dataset mapping the locations of telecommunications towers and critical assets across NSW.

This new dataset will be used to enable emergency services to better protect these vital locations before and during a disaster. The new capability has been developed in response to the NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry, which identified the loss of connectivity as one of the recurring issues faced during the devastating last bushfire season.

The enquiry found that the reliable sharing of critical infrastructure, telecommunications and spatial information will be a key component to preventing a similarly devastating summer in 2020–21.

“There is nothing more powerful than the spatial layers to paint the picture about what’s at risk, so having access to the Digital Twin allows us to invest in preventative and mitigation strategies,” commented Shane Fitzsimmons, Head of Resilience NSW, and previously NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner.

“In an unfolding emergency, like a bushfire, we can know in advance what’s likely to happen in that fire in the next few days, making sure we can shore up protection as much as we can. Having a Digital Twin for communications infrastructure means we can factor into our risk planning and our annual treatments in the months and years before a fire impact.”

Data61 Web Geospatial Systems Group Leader Mats Henrikson added that the collaboration highlights Data61’s role as an ecosystem enabling data infrastructure, helping governments and industry make better planning decisions.

“The Digital Twin Visualisation Service leverages Data61’s deep strength in web-mapping and visualising data in 4D (3D + time, which is the ability to look forward and back in time) to build a real-world digital twin that can help protect communities and assets in times of need,” he said.

Pictured: Mats Henrikson, CSIRO's Data61, and Bruce Thompson, Special Services at the NSW Digital Twin launch. Courtesy Data61.

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