Blog icon

The challenge

Plan, design and manage our cities

Infrastructure, services and economy are a large decision making areas within Government. By enabling planners, policymakers and developers to make a more informed decision it will reduce costs achieve benefits across the State.

Our response

An interactive live data sharing, collaboration and visualisation tool

Digital Twins create virtual replicas of small and large-scale physical objects, buildings, cities, regions and systems, a technology game-changer for the future of smart cities.

The NSW Spatial Digital Twin is a powerful interactive live data sharing, collaboration and visualisation tool accessible from an Internet browser, which captures 3D and 4D spatial data to model the urban environment. The tool aggregates high-value transport, infrastructure, property, planning and environmental datasets directly from governments, industry and other data owners, as well as from other digital twins and geographic systems.

This previously inaccessible data is then federated to ensure that all users are working off the same authoritative data, allowing them to effectively respond to different built and natural environments.

Mats Henrikson, CSIRO's Data61 and Bruce Thompson, Special Services at the NSW Digital Twin launch. ©  @sgrphoto

The NSW Spatial Digital Twin allows users to interact with a virtual replica of the Western Sydney region, adding and removing layers to visualise data and infrastructure, such as:

  • live transport data
  • under- and above- ground utilities
  • roads, schools and hospitals
  • building materials
  • property boundaries and valuations
  • strata plans
  • 3D trees
  • any relevant data fed into the system

The Digital Twin is also secure and private by design, meaning that only users with the correct permissions can see certain datasets, a key component to maintain the privacy of sensitive assets, such as underground utilities.

The NSW Spatial Digital Twin can be used by planners, infrastructure owners, developers, policymakers and residents, to help better plan, design and manage our cities. By viewing this data collectively, rather than in isolation, users are empowered to make data-driven decisions to create better, smarter cities, and plan for Australia’s future.

By layering different datasets on top of each other, organisations and governments can gain a broader understanding of current landscapes, and the kinds of impacts any changes, such as new developments, might have on local communities.

As Australia’s population continues to grow, our nation’s urban needs are changing.

Cities are expanding vertically, and are growing increasingly rich in data.

The power to combine, visualise and interact with this data has never been so important, which is why CSIRO’s Data61 and the NSW Government have created the Spatial Digital Twin.

The digital twin is a powerful 3D+time live data sharing, collaboration and visualisation tool that can be used by planners, infrastructure owners, developers, policymakers and residents, to help better plan, design and manage our cities. 

Users can interact with a virtual replica of the Western Sydney region, adding and removing layers to visualise data and infrastructure, such as under- and above- ground utilities, live transport data, roads, schools and hospitals, building materials, property boundaries and valuations, strata plans, 3D trees, or any other data fed into the system.

“This visualisation service is quite comprehensive and sophisticated, and allows us to bring together data from government, from industry and from the community, place it all in the right context, and view it accurately and reliably. It's a very powerful communication tool."

"Without this Spatial Digital Twin, we can't have smart precincts, or smart cities or even a smart New South Wales, because this is the thing that actually coordinates and brings together all those different models and capabilities."

"Security is very important because we have a range of quite sensitive data, so the system is set up on a role-based user access arrangement, that allows the data owner to specify, quite specifically, who can see the data, and who's allowed to access it."

The digital twin also offers tools like a data splitter, allowing users to compare data at different times and see how infrastructure has changed.

“We’ve been working with the NSW Government to create an open-platform digital twin that can federate data from other digital twins and geospatial systems, so that previously locked away data can be made much more accessible and usable."

"The Digital Twin aggregates high-value data like planning,  property, infrastructure and environmental, straight from the owners of those datasets. This ensures that  governments and industry can use the same authoritative data to respond to many different issues in the built and natural environments.”

“This data sharing can also be used to plan for, prevent, and assist with recovery from natural disasters and climate change, and more broadly, can be used to consult and communicate with communities as these things happen.”

“This is only the beginning of the journey. Our goal is to create a national digital twin, to help understand our nation’s infrastructure and wellbeing, so that we can use data-driven decisions to plan for Australia’s future.”

See how CSIRO's Data61 can help you turn data into decisions. Visit our website to find out more.

Share & embed this video



Embed code

<iframe src="" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; fullscreen" allowfullscreen></iframe>


The results

Our Digital Twin capabilities

Digital Twins are scalable technologies, meaning they can be applied on a large city/regional scope, down to a building/infrastructure level, and even further down to a small object level. Data61 holds a strong track record in the development of such technologies at each different level of scale.

Cities and Regions


Spark is an award-winning open framework for bushfire prediction and analysis, which takes our current knowledge of fire behaviour and combines it with state-of-the-art simulation science to produce predictions, statistics and visualisations of bushfire spread.

It can also be used for land management and planning, fire mitigation analysis, real-time fire prediction and analysis of fire events. Spark can read weather data from meteorological forecasts and use this information directly within fire models. Geographic information, such as land slope, vegetation and un-burnable areas, such as roads and water bodies, also affect the spread of the fire. Spark allows users to easily incorporate such environmental data and to use this information to define a fire spread rate.


UrbanMonitor PDF (3.5MB) is an observation system that can track and communicate land cover and structural changes in a way that has not been previously possible. UrbanMonitor can examine changes in these surfaces at high precision (e.g. 0.1 to 0.3m) – their presence, area, condition, volume and height above the ground or above sea level. To achieve this, the data is geometrically and radiometrically calibrated making quantitative comparisons in space and time possible

Predicting and managing traffic congestion

In partnership with Transport NSW, Data61 developed an artificial intelligence (AI) engine to predict traffic congestion across Sydney. It ingests transport datasets for the training of special purpose predictive models, forming a closed loop with simulation models to continuously train the AI engine with new situations and responses while calibrating the simulation model.Scientific fundamentals of the AI engine have been thoroughly tested using both historical and real-time transport datasets, such as smart card (Opal), GPS, and traffic signal data.

This work is contributing to the delivery of the next generation congestion management system for the NSW Transport Management Centre (TMC), with the system enhancing the capability to predict two hours into the future and act in five minutes, which is likely to lead to significant improvements in efficiently managing traffic flows.

Urban Augmented Reality

Researchers at Data61’s Immersive Environments Lab in Canberra have developed key technologies for Urban Augmented Reality, to improve both productivity and safety by ‘inserting’ digital information directly into the physical world.

The ‘HoloPin’ platform, as demonstrated at the NSW Digital Twin launch, enables entire buildings to be holographically augmented with digital twin data. Live and historic data from smart sensors (such as fine-grained energy meters) can be displayed within the physical environment. Smart glasses running the service can also uncover x-ray views into wall cavities for maintenance, display 3D annotations and work orders for maintenance and construction, or reveal the latest locations of mobile assets.


Monitoring the health of structures

We have developed structural health monitoring technology using sensors, bespoke machine-learning based predictive analytics and distributed processing capabilities to enable maintenance scheduling based on the condition of assets, increasing efficiency and extending their service life.

We have used this approach to help the NSW Roads and Maritime Services with monitoring the Sydney Harbour Bridge road deck, with 2,400 sensors collecting information on the road condition to provide early warning before affecting bridge users.


Mixed Reality Lab

Our state-of-the-art Mixed Reality Lab enables manufacturing and multiple other industries to create Digital Twins of real-world objects.Located in Clayton, the lab houses a set-up of industrial and consumer optical cameras and sensing equipment to capture detailed information about a physical object and the space surrounding it. The equipment is underpinned by sophisticated algorithms (Workspace) which merge the enormous amounts of data collected to create a digital twin in a matter of minutes.

The lab is a unique combination of Data61’s research expertise across machine learning, computer vision, computational modelling, IoT, and CSIRO’s patented Stereo Depth Fusion technology for depth estimation.


Our 3D SLAM mobile mapping technology allows direct real-time 3D capture data of built and natural environments, which can be utilised for analysis, synthesis, decision-making, manufacturing, and more.

This award-winning technology is the world’s first continuous-time SLAM algorithm, where the trajectory is correctly modelled as a continuous function of time. This rigorous formulation has allowed us to lead the market in mobile mapping and producing the world’s first hand-held mobile mapping system and 3D spinning lidar system based on passive actuation.


Bluetooth Low Energy Aware Tracking (BLEAT) offers a low cost, low maintenance, long term solution capable of room level accuracy tracking of people and objects moving throughout various infrastructure.

This offers dramatic opportunities for productivity improvement (time lost locating objects and people), advanced health and safety (knowledge of people remaining during evacuations, real-time alerting to staff and customers of location specific hazards) and unprecedented knowledge of infrastructure utilisation through analytics (which can be used for optimising planning, maintenance, cleaning, building etc.).

Contact us

Find out how we can help you and your business. Get in touch using the form below and our experts will get in contact soon!

CSIRO will handle your personal information in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and our Privacy Policy.

First name must be filled in

Surname must be filled in

I am representing *

Please choose an option

Please provide a subject for the enquriy

0 / 100

We'll need to know what you want to contact us about so we can give you an answer

0 / 1900

You shouldn't be able to see this field. Please try again and leave the field blank.