University spin out to deliver one of world’s largest digital twins

An image showing Google Maps side by side a digital version of York created by Slingshot Simulations

Slingshot Simulations, a rapidly expanding tech start-up which spun out of the University of Leeds in 2019 has launched the Yorkshire Geospatial Twin partnership after securing £46,000 funding from Innovate UK and the Geospatial Commission.

The project which is being delivered with Arup, BT Group, and the city councils of Leeds, York, and Hull is aiming to transform how cities and countries make decisions.

An image showing Google Maps side by side a digital version of Leeds created by Slingshot Simulations

The digital twin platform will auto-generate 3D models of the three cities and surrounding areas, allowing planners to test different ways to boost the capacity of the existing network, reduce congestion and air pollution. They will also investigate ways to improve logistics and deal with potential delays at the port of Hull – a particular concern in the wake of Brexit.

Dr David McKee, CEO at Slingshot said that this pro announcement was the “natural next step” in the company’s journey to making digital twins accessible to anyone anywhere and that it was “a world first”.

David McKee CEO and CTO of Slingshot Simulations

McKee explained that following the announcement of funding by the Cabinet Office, the project starts with immediate effect and lasts for 12 weeks. If successful, Slingshot’s ambition is to make it available nationally and even tackle the USA before the end of the year.

He said: “The next steps after our proof of concept in Yorkshire with the model covering 12,000 sq miles over the next 12 weeks, would be to expand the model nationally to cover 242,000 sq miles. And from there it’s about making it available internationally.”

Dan Isaacs, CTO at the international Digital Twin Consortium echoed McKee and explained that the project will demonstrate how digital twins are a key enabler of digital transformation.

He added: “This project will be one of the world’s largest digital twin projects ever seen with the potential to transform how cities and countries make decisions.”

Slingshot’s ambition is also supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering, Ana Avaliani, its director of enterprise and sustainable development, said: “Digital twins have the potential to be a powerful tool for environmentally sustainable economic recovery and growth and we are delighted to supporting David and his team in their entrepreneurial endeavours.”

An image showing Google Maps side by side a digital version of Hull created by Slingshot Simulations

Speaking to McKee it’s clear that the project which will link and visualise multiple data sources including ONS data, mapping from NASA and ESA as well as data sets from across the three cities, could have a transformational impact on residents and the way planning happens.

Neil Hooton, associate director at Arup which is supporting the project added: “Digital twins and simulations are more than just buzzwords, they are vital in helping us visualise data allowing us to build faster, safer, greener and better spaces for everyone. We look forward to collaborating with Slingshot Solutions on this innovative project where we will harness the depth of our engineering and cities expertise to help validate these auto-generated 3D models of Yorkshire cities.”

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