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Apollo Protocol calls for common language across digital twins

The paper sets out how this could be rectified with the creation of a new forum, which will develop solutions and cross-sector learning and write the protocol for cross sector digital twins.   

Currently, the manufacturing and built environment sectors are developing digital twins separately using different language and business models, yet many of our challenges, such as net zero, require them to work together.

The paper, The Apollo Protocol, details the need for a common framework for developing digital twins so that each sector can unlock their potential. This will be delivered by a new Apollo Forum which will explore four key themes that the manufacturing and built environment sectors share, developing solutions and encouraging cross-sector learning.

Rick Hartwig, IET Built Environment Lead, said: “Digital Twins offer huge benefits for society but only a coordinated approach to the language used will allow those benefits to be realised.

“There are many steps to improving information management, for example, from the manufacturers and their product information and frameworks to technology companies producing in the Digital Twin space who need the availability of data to construct models.

“It goes much further than just the manufacturing, built environment and technology industries – policy makers will only meet their sustainability goals if they can provide clarity during procurement for the market to respond effectively, so it will take a whole system approach.”

This work represents the combined efforts of the IET, The Construction Leadership Council (CLC), The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), The High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB), The Construction Innovation Hub, The Digital Twin Hub, TechUK and the Alan Turing Institute. The project has the support of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).  

To find out more information and to download the White Paper please visit or contact

Notes to Editor

Supporting the call for the Apollo Protocol and Forum includes:

Dame Wendy Hall FRS FREng Regius Professor of Computer Science University of Southampton, said: “Developing and operating infrastructure digital twins is essential for improved decision making. By ensuring cross- sectoral quality information is available, greater value can be achieved for asset operation and wider citizen services. The Apollo Protocol articulates how silos can be broken down to deliver this vision.”

Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Outgoing President, techUK, said: “Digital skills are growing in importance and shrinking in abundance, with co-dependent industries often competing for the same talent. The Apollo Protocol is a paper which encourages constructive dialogue between adjacent sectors, scanning the horizon for future trends in digital engineering and developing new professions to build the future workforce. It is a natural evolution of our long-standing work in digital skills and diversity.”

Professor Rab Scott, Chief Engineer – Digital, High Value Manufacturing Catapult, said: “Since 2016, Google web searches for the topic “digital twins” has multiplied by a factor of 25. But therein lies the problem. As more sectors adopt them, a greater need for a common language arises. The Apollo Protocol will break down this semantic barrier through thematic cross-sectoral engagement.”

Neil Thompson FIET, Director at Atkins, Digital Manufacturing and Performance Lead, Construction Leadership Council, Built Environment Panel Chair said: “Our engineering disciplines are fragmented within and between sectors. The Apollo Protocol is an opportunity for a ‘great unification’ of engineering where will see the coming together of engineering disciplines under a common purpose to design high performing system of systems and enable a truly circular and sustainable built environment.”

Austin Cook - Principal Technologist in Emerging Technologies & Systems - BAE Systems said: “The development and adoption of digital twins, enabled by connected systems and driven by good known data to gain greater insights is already underway in manufacturing. However, as products move out of manufacturing and into the operation phase, the interoperability between twins becomes paramount. The Apollo Protocol enables a major step towards achieving this.”

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