Spatial Digital Twin

Telecommunications and utilities infrastructure in the Spatial Digital Twin


The NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry on the 2019/2020 bushfires reinforced the need for telecommunications and utility infrastructure data, particularly spatial data that could inform risk and resilience decisions in the location and protection of essential utilities infrastructure in emergency situations.

The key objectives of developing a comprehensive telecommunications infrastructure data set are to:

  • Improve the ability of Emergency Services Organisation (ESOs) to protect these vital assets through better understanding of their location, protection arrangements and interdependencies
  • Ensure ESOs know what telecommunications services are and aren’t available to them for operational use, and understand what services are available to the community and
  • Ensure communities have the greatest possible prospect of retaining communications and connectivity, allowing:
    • people to be fully informed on fire progress and conditions
    • people to call for emergency assistance
    • people to communicate with family and neighbours
    • government and ESOs to provide community warnings via emergency alert services
    • access to post emergency services 

DCS Spatial Services is currently developing a 3D spatial dataset of Government Radio Network (GRN) telecommunications towers and assets across NSW to assist with emergency management and response. 

The project will scale to include all other telecommunications (Telco) utility asset data. In order to provide complete and current Telco data, access and sharing agreements are to be negotiated with Telco providers.

Telco asset information is sensitive from commercial and security perspectives. For Telco providers to share their data with ESOs they need to be fully confident that their data is secured and being used only for the Emergency Management purposes for which it has been provided.

The role-based access capabilities of the Spatial Digital Twin ensures the security and integrity of Telco data contributed, allows them to determine which people and/or organisations can access the data, and allows them to change those arrangements at any time.

In addition to the benefits outlined above, Telcos will benefit from being a part of this project by being able to visualise their assets in 3D which will enable better asset management such as planning and maintenance. The twinning of this infrastructure will also assist them with their own management strategies for disaster planning, preparedness, response and recovery.

About the Spatial Digital Twin


Recommendation 29 of the 2018 State Infrastructure Strategy called for the development of a business case for an upgrade of the state’s Foundation Spatial Data Framework (FSDF) from a two-dimensional map to a four-dimensional model (3D + time). That is a full three-dimensional model of the state’s physical environment, capable of recording past conditions and visualising future scenarios. Four-dimensional models of this nature are increasingly referred to as Digital Twins.

To develop the inputs necessary to build the business case, a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) has been developed by Spatial Services. Given the level of infrastructure investment, as well as economic and social significance, the area chosen for the Digital Twin MVP is the eight Local Government Areas comprising the Western Parkland City and Greater Parramatta and the Olympic Peninsula.

The NSW Spatial Digital Twin is upgrading the existing two-dimensional creating a digital real-world model of our cities and communities which will facilitate better planning, design and modelling for NSW’s future needs.

In addition to upgrading the actual FSDF content, a new four-dimensional visualisation platform (Digital Twin Visualisation Service, DTVS) is being developed in conjunction with CSIRO's Data61.

The first stage of the Digital Twin MVP is creating a high-resolution four-dimensional model based on three-dimensional aerial imagery and LiDAR, integrated with the state’s digital cadastre (record and location of land parcels). Transport, utilities, planning, natural resource management, environmental management and emergency management data is being progressively added. The platform also integrates Digital Engineering assets, Building Information Models, and live API feeds for public transport, air quality, and energy production. The platform is also designed to integrate with the NSW Spatial Collaboration Portal that provides a central point to search, discover and share spatial information.

While primarily focused on supporting infrastructure planning and delivery, this platform has benefits at national, state and local government levels, for industry and for the community. Its benefits are also broad, spanning all sectors – infrastructure planning and delivery, planning, service delivery, environmental management, natural resource management, as well as emergency management and counterterrorism.

Further engagement with local, state, federal government agencies as well as industry bodies will see further development and refinement of the platform.