Ethics and sustainability

Using digital technology in pursuit of the common good

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Ensure your council uses digital technology in a fair, transparent and environmentally friendly way and in pursuit of the common good, using the resources and guidance on this page.

Councils are responsible for using technology effectively and ensuring their approaches are ethical, sustainable and promote better social outcomes. This can be challenging for councils because the opportunities and risks presented by technology are very new, and change all of the time. When it comes to ethics, council should be thinking about digital ethics and data ethics, along with sustainability and the environment. We are currently creating resources to support councils in thinking about these broad pillars. Please continue checking these pages for new material.

Case studies

City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council: Virtual Bradford – an open digital twin for the City of Bradford

Digital twins are an excellent tool that can be used to create what-if scenarios and enable data-driven decision making, which will be explored by the Council and others.

A digital twin for Bradford has always been an aspiration, however this is where Bradford firmly takes a step forward into the Digital Twin, Digital Revolution.

In 2017 Bradford signed up to a European Union funded project, Smart Cities + Open Data Re-use (SCORE), which is a partnership between nine cities and three universities including Amsterdam, Aarhus, Aberdeen, Bergen, Bradford, Dordrecht, Ghent, Gothenburg, Hamburg, University of Amsterdam, Aarhus University and University of Bradford. Collectively the partners develop innovative solutions based on open data and focus on sharing insights and methodologies for developing better public services.

The challenge was to create an open source, free from copyright, digital twin of Bradford that can be maintained by the Council and others. This essentially creates a 4D digital twin of Bradford to adapt to the dynamics of a richly diverse and evolving city. The digital twin will also have its own open-source data sharing platform that will be available to download free of charge from GitHub. All of this ensures that this challenge can be replicated elsewhere in the world.

Consultancy companies often create these digital twins on behalf of councils, as part of other projects/tenders. However, these are normally subject to copyright, are subject to vendor lock-in, and are therefore restrictive for local authorities to maintain. A council producing its own, open source, free from copyright, maintainable digital twin has the potential to facilitate reinvestment and expansion of the digital twin.

The approach has proven to be unlike any other related commercial contract that the Council team have previously entered into, with the ongoing partnership representing so much more since the team delivering this are based in Bradford and they want the best for the City.

The potential to stimulate growth, regeneration and innovation in and for Bradford is ultimately the aim for the digital twin. Whilst work is still in train to deliver the Virtual Bradford project it is not yet possible to realise or measure the full impact of the digital twin. However, it is already apparent that the digital twin will have a multitude of uses far beyond those that the Council originally envisaged. The Council will endeavour to return to this document and update it in 12 months.

For more information – please contact [email protected]