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2023 Digital Twin Summit | Auckland

Submitted by Robyn Francis on August 23, 2023

On August 1st, 2023, over 180 digital twin practitioners joined Smart Cities Council in Auckland. 

Graciously hosted by Beca at an event made possible by our members and partners, we gathered for an informative, inclusive event that demonstrated great examples of cross-sector collaboration. 


Throughout the day, guests heard from experts from across sector divides, covering key themes such as Smart Built Environment, Smart Transportation Hubs and the Future of Place, all positioned through a Digital Twin and Data lens.  

To kick things off, we welcomed Andrea Rickard onto stage. Andrea is the General Manager: Transport and Infrastructure at NZ headquartered consulting firm Beca. She is a planner and social scientist by background, and over a 25 year career has been involved in the optioneering, consenting and delivery of some of the largest road, rail and water infrastructure projects and programmes across Aotearoa; and in strategic policy direction on issues as diverse as air and water quality, waste strategy and land use and transport planning and zoning. Andrea is a strong believer in collaboration in front-footing the significant challenge and opportunity ahead of us as an infrastructure industry as we focus on a fast-paced change agenda, a global war for talent, decarbonising our economy, more extreme weather events, and increasingly focus on how our future generations will experience the world we leave them. Andrea joined the Smart Cities Council for a Digital Twin Summit hosted at the Beca office in Auckland, where she presented a keynote titled Acting Today for Tomorrow's Infrastructure. 

We then heard from Elle Archer, Chair of Te Matarau – The Māori Tech Association and Waitaha Digital Equity Committee who talked to Digital Equity Across Aotearoa.

Then it was over to Keri Niven, Aurecon's Digital Practice Lead for New Zealand for a look back at the past year. 

Keri is a passionate digital professional, with a background in Geospatial technologies, and over 20 years international experience in engineering and construction project delivery, enterprise digital collaboration platform design, and organisational strategy and transformation. Joining the lineup as a keynote speaker, in her capacity as both the New Zealand Digital Practice Leader for Aurecon, and Smart Cities Council Digital Twin Maturity Continuum Task Force Chair, Keri offered insight into the Digital Twin space in the year that has passed since the last Summit. Keri thrives on working with clients to uncover innovation and efficiency opportunities that leverage digital processes and technologies. Keri’s primary area of expertise is in integrating principles of human centred design with her experience in organisational transformation and strategic roadmap development. With expertise gained from infrastructure and construction projects around the world Keri is passionate about design technologies and international best practice frameworks that enable full lifecycle asset and information management. Keri is committed to contributing to greater outcomes for Aotearoa and is actively leading collaboration across industry to demonstrate how maturity and capability uplift in the areas of digital engineering and digital twins can drive better decision making and create sustainable and resilient infrastructure, supporting both current and future communities. Keri leads the Digital Twin Maturity Taskforce for ANZ Smart Cities Council, is on the Executive Committee for the ANZ Digital Twin Partnership, represents NZIOB as a Southern Region Committee Member, and is part of the group working with the Construction Sector Accord to develop the value case for BIM and Digital Engineering.

In this session, we heard from Wellington City Council and Christchurch City Council. First up, Wellington City Council. Their team of Denise Beazley and Alex Cox shared work underway both above and below ground. Wellington City is on the cusp of once-in-a-generation change which will affect how we live, work and play. What we’re doing isn’t BAU. It's not just fixing things to go back to how they were. In 10 years' time we will have an improved, more vibrant and more resilient city. We’ll be welcoming 50-80,000 new residents, and our transport network will be transformed so more people can move in and around our city. Buildings will be earthquake strengthened, and ageing pipes replaced. On top of this, there will be a scaling-up of private developments taking place. We’re still early on in this journey – we’re a city in transition. Disruption will be inevitable with almost all of our main streets impacted, both above and below ground. Then, Christchurch City Council's Michael Healy shared a Digital Canterbury Update, an overview of BIM progress through their BIM Community of Practice, steering board, POCs and Inter Council Collaboration. We also got an initiatives update covering real time urban waterway monitoring and the coveted Clean Bioreactor before diving into the council's plans for the Smart Christchurch Innovation Expo, to be held on 10 and 11 September 2023. Register here.

Global and Local Digital Twin Presentations and Use Cases

After a brief networking break, we split into two streams - global and local and heard from: 

  • Matt Wheeler: Imagining Tamaki Makaurau Auckland's Future: Auckland Digital Twin
  • Global moves in Digital: Amelia Burnett, GI Hub
  • Auckland Transport: A Digital Journey Murray Burt & Myles Lind, Auckland Transport
  • Saudi Vision 2030: David Burton
  • Wellington City Council: Digital Twin Advancement in Wellington: Sean Audain, Wellington City Council
  • BIM to Twin: Transpower: Kevin Dunne
  • Future of Place: Equity through Digital Twins: Chris Lane, Smart AI Connect
    Jannat Maqbool, Aurecon
    Mark Thomas, Serviceworks
    Sean Marshall, Platformity 
    Thomas Gooch, OP Observations 
  • Impacts of AI and Future of Cities: Matt Ensor Chair, AI Forum NZ Working Group (Generative AI), CEO – FranklyAI
  • Waka Kotahi: Kā Huanui a Tāhuna Alliance: Kā Huanui a Tāhuna Partnership: 
    Ian Bannon
    Greg Levett
    Farzam Farzadi
  • MBIE Construction Sector Accord: Digitising Infrastructure for the Century Ahead Jane Henley, Construction Sector Accord
    Amelia Burnett, GIHub, 
    Jack Donaghy, Beca
  • Smart Transport: Richard Simpson, Meta Moto
    Corey Gray, Smart Cities Council
    Karandeep Chadha, Transport NSW
    Sean Marshall, Platformity
    Matt Gijselman, Bentley
  • AWS: Spatial Simulation for the Real World Andra Christie and Jigar Mangukiya, AWS
  • Auckland Council Landslides Database: Orlando Kootstra & Ross Roberts, Auckland City Council
  • Putting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion into practice: Emma Mannion - Beca
    Melanie Tristam - Jasmax
    Grace de Leon - Christchurch City Council
    Jannat Maqbool - Aurecon
  • Maturity and Uplift: Richard Simpson, Meta Moto
    Raveen Jaduram, Jaduram Limited
    Keri Niven, Aurecon
    Asem Zabin, GHD
    Matt Gijselman, Bentley
    Sean Marshall, Platformity
    Christopher Lane, Smart AI Connect
    Gaby Roque-Worcel, Wellington City Council

You'll find all the session recordings on Youtube as new panel recordings drop daily. 

What we were building on

Our 2022 Digital Twin Summit was held in Wellington. It was an informative, inclusive event that demonstrated great examples of cross-sector collaboration. 

Policy makers, practitioners and academics gathered for a day of intensive dialogue and workshopping to set direction on building a thriving marketplace for this powerful data activation capability.

The event is a result of our work on the Digital Twin Hub, and our Digital Twin Challenge.

  • 130+ registrations
  • 4 panel sessions
  • 4 workshops

“The 2022 Aotearoa New Zealand Digital Twin Summit was the third gathering of practitioners, academics and industry leaders. While a mandate or government directive regarding Digital Twin standards has not been forthcoming it is evident that much is being done, maturity is increasing, and real industry-driven leadership is emerging. Notable themes for discussion included the natural environment (and its history of rich and connected data), and a growing recognition that the Te Ao Maori view must be central to the Digital Twin discussion for New Zealand.”

- Keri Niven, Aurecon

“AWS works with government agencies to use technology to transform and innovate smart cities faster than ever before. AWS was delighted to sponsor to sponsor the Smart Cities Council, Aotearoa New Zealand Digital Twin Summit, to share knowledge about fast-tracking Digital Twin projects, and how we can help scale smart city solutions for communities.”

- Andra Christie - AWS


Want to help shape the future of Smart Cities and Digital Twin events? Be a part of our Smart Cities Week and Digital Twin Summit organising committees for 2024. 

Email to find out more!