A digital twin is a virtual representation of an object or system updated from real-time data. It uses simulation, machine learning and reasoning to help decision-making.
Environmental digital twins have the potential to significantly improve our understanding of the natural environment, by, for example:
- providing insights and foresight into the impacts and consequences of climate change at different spatial scales
- helping to anticipate and mitigate the effects of climate change
- supporting the UK’s resilient net-zero carbon ambitions and broader sustainability goals.
Critically, to realise the value of environmental digital twins they need to be internally consistent and interoperable with other digital twins, for example, digital twins of the ‘built environment’, through a federated model.
A vital component of digital twins is an information management framework (IMF) that establishes the components necessary to enable effective information management across the digital twin ecosystem. It enables secure, resilient interoperability of data, and is a reference point to facilitate data use in line with security, legal, commercial, privacy and other relevant concerns.
Previous work has highlighted the importance of developing an IMF. For example the CDBB, a partnership between the University of Cambridge and BEIS, published:
Successful projects will be expected to engage with NERC Head Office and Met Office throughout the project to update on progress, share learning and identify synergies with wider NERC and Met Office activities.
Successful applicants will be required to submit a one-off end of project report and final expenditure statement to the NERC digital environment team and Met Office. There is no expectation for the successful team to report their research outputs through the UKRI reporting system (Researchfish) but they may be required to provide NERC and Met Office with any additional reporting requirements as requested.
Successful projects will be funded via a one-off payment to the lead institution.
UKRI standard terms and conditions will generally apply, with some variation due to method of payment (purchase order or invoice).
Lead institutions must invoice NERC for the cost of the project by 14 January 2022 to ensure payment. A brief report to provide assurance of activities will be required prior to payment authorisation. This will be discussed with the NERC digital environment team upon notification of project award.
UKRI recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their career such as:
- breaks and delays
- disruptive working patterns and conditions
- the loss of on-going work
- role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic.
Panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the track record and career development of those individuals included in the proposal. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing.
Where disruptions have occurred, applicants can highlight this within their application, if they wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.