French subs software company could build “virtual Adelaide”

The leaders of the French company contracted to help design Australia’s future submarines say it could use high-tech 3D modelling to help the government decide where to place its next power station – and build a “virtual” Adelaide model as the policymaking tool of the future.

Mar 17, 2017, updated Mar 17, 2017
A 3D model of Adelaide could help predict and solve problems before they arise. Photo: Tony Lewis

A 3D model of Adelaide could help predict and solve problems before they arise. Photo: Tony Lewis

The heads of multinational software company Dassault Systèmes have told InDaily its work on the $50 billion future submarines project is only the “catalyst” – the beginning of their plans for South Australia.

The leadership group has been in Adelaide this week, meeting with members of the defence industry, academia and the State Government.

Executive vice-president Sylvain Laurent said the company had built a virtual model of the city-state of Singapore and could do the same for Adelaide.

“We created the virtual Singapore model after starting two years ago,” said Laurent.

“A digital twin of a city is now a reality.

“We could do the same in South Australia with Adelaide.”

Laurent said the company’s submarine design experience could be applied to the comprehensive simulation of the city of Adelaide.

“Submarines now are not only geometry: it’s embedded software, it’s a lot of electronics, it’s a lot of complexity in terms of technology,” he said.

“To be capable now to manage all the processes [and] all the information around a submarine, you need to use these digital [tools]

“Without this, it is very long or very difficult.

“The city is the same.”

He said Adelaide was one of the cities in the world that was ready to “transform a dream or a vision [about] smart cities into a reality”.

In 2015, multinational information technology company Cisco named Adelaide a “Lighthouse City” and set up a ‘smart city studio’ here in collaboration with the Department of State Development and the Adelaide City Council.

Becoming a “smart city” is among the ambitions of the council’s 2016-2020 strategic plan.

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Vice-president business transformation, tech sales, strategy and innovation Pierre Marchadier said the benefit of creating virtual models of anything – from cities to submarines, to organs of the human body – was that it could help to detect problems before they actually occur.

“If you want to create a new building in Adelaide, let’s create [it] virtually,” he said.

“We bring you into a virtual world, into this building, and you can say ‘ok I understand the impact of this in my city’.

“And if something is wrong we can press the undo button and start again, which is not the case in the real life.”

Marchadier said the company’s 3D simulation and modelling technology could be applied to almost any realm of public policy and design.

“You can simulate everything … in order to make a decision at the end of the day,” he said.

“To think about energy … where do we have to put the next power plant?” he said, adding that the company was already involved in energy planning in Singapore.

Dassault Systèmes Asia Pacific South managing director Masaki “Sox” Konno agreed the company would not limit itself to defence industries in South Australia.

“Our centres of excellence are in Perth and Brisbane, and in Melbourne we have our data analytics [centre] … and we haven’t tapped south Australia and Adelaide yet.

“We started off with defence … but there’s the ability to go wide on innovation.

“A lot of the innovation occurs at the cusp of different domains – and when we see that we’re kind of excited … so we don’t wed ourselves to one industry.”

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