HxGN RadioPodcast

Partnering for a smarter tomorrow

Whether it’s fighting climate change, improving urban mobility or making cities smarter, technology partnerships are critical to successfully addressing a growing number of social and global challenges.

In this episode of HxGN Radio, we talk to experts from Hexagon and Fujitsu about their recently announced partnership. We’ll also discuss how Hexagon and Fujitsu leverage digital twin capabilities to develop solutions that will reduce carbon emissions, create autonomous systems, promote resilient mobility and transportation, improve natural disaster response, support sustainable city initiatives and more.

BK: Welcome to HxGN Radio. My name is Brian and in today’s podcast, we’re going to be discussing how Hexagon and Fujitsu leverage digital twin capabilities to develop solutions that will reduce carbon emissions, create autonomous systems, promote resilient mobility and transportation, improve natural disaster response, support sustainable city initiatives and so much more.  

Joining me today are Dr. Uwe Jasnoch, Director of Government and Transportation from Hexagon Safety Infrastructure & Geospatial, and Cathy McCann, Vice President, Head of Trusted Society from Fujitsu.

Thank you both for joining me. Appreciate it.

CM: Hi.

UJ: Hi. It’s good to see you.

CM: It’s nice to meet you.

BK: It’s good to have you here. Well, we had quite the conversation before, hitting record and I like to say hit record and see what happens, but sometimes we have to be a little more structured than that. I’d like to know a little bit more about you. So, Cathy I’m going to have you go first. Tell us about yourself, what you do, what you’re nerding out on.

CM: Okay. So, as you said, I’m working at Fujitsu as Head of Trusted Society, which is part of our new Uvance business unit. And Uvance is Fujitsu’s new global business brand. So, as you know, Fujitsu has a very long history in both telecoms and IT industry, but Uvance is really, we are taking a new direction with a new purpose to focus on digital innovation to support a sustainable world, so I think it’s a really strong and powerful new purpose for us.

And Trusted Society’s one of the seven key focus areas for Fujitsu, alongside sustainable manufacturing, healthy living and customer experience or consumer experience. Trusted Society’s maybe a little less self-explanatory, but we are really looking at the areas of government digital transformation and how they transform, how we can support transportation of course, as you mentioned, and we’ve got a lot of collaboration with Hexagon in that space, but also in the areas of energy as well. So, yeah, it’s a very exciting new role for me. I’ve been at Fujitsu for quite a number of years now, for 13 years.

BK: Oh, wow. Yeah. Nice.

CM: Yeah. So really excited about the opportunity to really try and make the world a better place. Who doesn’t get excited about that?

BK: I agree. I agree. I love it.

CM: Yeah. And suppose, so I guess outside of work, trying to make the world a better place through the power of music.

BK: That’s right.

CM: Yeah. So, I’m in a band as well, called the Lucky Flamingos, and we perform mostly cover versions. Notably Kate Bush. So-

BK: Oh, hey, there we go.

CM: Everybody’s very keen on Kate Bush now, they all know who she is.

BK: Well, what about you? Tell us, tell us about yourself.

UJ: Yeah. I’m working for SIG as I said, and I have the great pleasure of leading the business unit in government and transportation for Europe, Middle East and Africa. And actually, I have two roles: one is a classical business role, make sure that the figures are right, what a surprise.

BK: Yeah.

UJ: And then the second one is more like technology scouting and see what kind of new things are on the horizon where we can apply our Hexagon solutions to change the world as Cathy said. And therefore, I’m personally already involved in these digital twin things for three, four years. So, from the background, I’m a computer engineer. I love to be a computer engineer.

BK: Yeah.

UJ: I love technology and it was hard work to train myself to communicate in ways that customers can understand me because they speak a different language. But it’s really nice. And it’s the same way I like to collaborate with Cathy and Fujitsu.  We also do a lot of collaboration inside Hexagon. I’m working with a lot of good colleagues from Geosystems, from the content team, from MSC, from the BricsCAD guys. I’m very unreligious in this thing. If I see something where we can make money, where we help customers do something great, I’m going to collect the technology from the whole Hexagon and make it happen. That’s my idea.

BK: That’s great.

UJ: Very simple.

BK: Yeah.

UJ: And if Hexagon is not good enough or I have some incapabilities, I’m looking for partners.

BK: That’s-

UJ: Very simple.

BK: Yeah. Yeah.

UJ: I love that. And in private we spoke, when I have spare time, which is not always the case, when I’m in the Munich office, which is my official office, I really love nature. So, yeah. Taking advantage of the beautiful landscape of Bavaria, going up in the mountains, spending some time at the sea. And if I’m not good enough with my feet, I’m taking the mountain bike and be a little bit faster.

BK: I love it. You know, I love biking. I’m not into the mountain biking but a friend of mine is getting into it, and he went over the handlebars yesterday. So, we thought-

UJ: Oh nice.

BK: Yeah, well that happens. How many times have you done that?

UJ: I think I’m too relaxed for these things. I’m-

BK: Oh good. Okay. You’re just kind of more the –

UJ: No, no-

BK: -enjoy the moment.

UJ: No, you need to go uphill of course.

BK: Yeah.

UJ: Because otherwise you cannot enjoy going fast downhill.

BK: Okay. Okay. So, you are the crazy one that’s going down at 60 miles an hour.

UJ: No, no, no. I’m not. I’m not committing suicide for these things. And you pay your price with the age.

BK: Of course. Yeah.

UJ: And sometimes you just respect the very talented young guys who go so fast. That’s unbelievable for me.

BK: Yeah, yeah. Well, enjoy what you’ve got and enjoy the moment. That’s great. All right. Well, Cathy, talk about some of the challenges that city officials and agency leaders are facing right now.

CM: Sure. I think from talking to customers and to government, one of the biggest challenges is how they can really make the best use of the data that they have, so they want to use their data to inform their policymaking. Unfortunately, that can be a really big challenge. There’s a proliferation of data, but often it exists in silos through different organisations. Bringing that all together and drawing insights from it is where the challenge is. And sometimes data insights on their own are not enough. I read a book called Mining Your Own Business a little while ago, and there was a really interesting stat in there that said a third of projects don’t actually produce business results despite the fact, that technically speaking, 90% achieve their technical success, but the outputs generally chase some big disruptive change.

So, there’s that kind of change management aspect to implementing the results of what you’re finding. I think digital twin technology can really help to bring that data to life. I mean, there’s lots of things that it can do. It can help you withdraw the insights, but it can also bring that data to life. It enables you to visualise the data to drive simulations that can show the impact of the change that you are looking to make, but also the consequences of not implementing that change, which I think is really useful.

BK: Yeah.

CM: In a lot of the areas that we are looking at … and I think fundamentally there are some specific challenges, obviously governments and agencies want to optimise the public services that they’re providing. For example, the flow of traffic and people around cities, wanting to reduce their carbon emissions and wanting to increase citizen safety. And I think that digital twin technology can help with all of that.

And also, you mentioned disaster emergency planning. Fujitsu is conducting several pilots with Kawasaki city government with our social digital twins. So, one such example is the recent … we’ve had a recent joint field trial for safe and efficient tsunami evacuations in Kawasaki city. Whilst we don’t experience, thankfully, tsunamis all around the world, there are lots of geographical and geological events that happen and weather events as a result. And one of the things that we are looking at as part of the UK national digital twin programme, where Fujitsu’s a lead technical partner in that programme, is potentially looking at how we might deal with flood evacuation, for example. Flooding is a challenge in the UK. Thankfully we don’t suffer from earthquakes or tsunamis, but flooding is, can be a big issue.

BK: Absolutely.

CM: So, there’s a whole host of things that digital twin technology can help to address and solve. And I think from communicating with the general public, through to providing those insights and helping with simulation as well of particular events, so people can plan and see what will happen.

BK: That’s great. Appreciate that. So how are Hexagon and Fujitsu working together then?

UJ: Nicely.

BK: Great.

CM: For now.

UJ: For now, yeah! No, I don’t know, but I think that’s a best way to describe it. It’s really … you are very often going to work with partners, which is where you’re going to see it’s kind of one-way street. And that’s absolutely not the case with Fujitsu. So, it’s for sure a two-way street. And the really lovely part is that these are two really big companies at the end. There’s a huge portfolio, everyone. But when we come to this arena of the digital twins and smart cities and these things, it’s surprisingly enough, that we have more enhancing and matching technologies than overlapping technology. So, on that side it’s relatively easy to work together.

BK: Yeah.

UJ: Because we both see the benefit so we can do together with Fujitsu more than we can do alone and vice versa. And I think that’s a great basis for working together. And also, Cathy was talking about Trusted Society, and if you’re going to see the human’s model from Fujitsu with the Trusted Society, then you’re going to reflect on what Ola Oliver was saying yesterday evening and what Boca was saying this morning. It simply matches.

BK: Yeah.

UJ: So, we have a common vision, we want to do something better. And we are looking actively how to apply the technology in a way that it really helps someone to do something better. And I think that’s a good starting point.

BK: Yeah.

UJ: And I like the starting point because very often most companies are tech companies at the end.

BK: Yeah. Yeah.

UJ: And very often corporations of tech companies mean how do you put technology together and then “Ah! Cool technology,” but which problem do we solve? Oh yeah. Oops. We missed something. Where’s the customer? Oh, sorry for that. And this is exactly…we also share the vision on how to approach the market. That we are really actively searching and looking out and really expanding to some, what are real existing challenges and how we can solve them best. And that’s … that’s a great methodology of working.

BK: Yeah. I agree. All right. Well, so talk about some of the other smart city initiatives that you guys are working on together and are still planning.

CM: Mm. Yeah. So, I think obviously we’ve started very recently in our partnership with Hexagon, and I think as we are trying to tackle some really big issues here, we can’t do that on our own. And working with partners like Hexagon’s really, really important for us. I think to echo Uwe’s point, I think that all of the right ingredients are there already, in that collaboration and we’ve started to work on a number of projects together.

So obviously looking at the micro mobility, we were just doing a presentation on that here at the conference. And we are looking … we have a roadmap of different things that we can do to add to that. So, looking at things like road conditions, adding on and extending into things like port, airport management systems and looking at building and traffic management in airports; for example, disaster planning.

So, we’ve got a whole host of things that we can do in the sort of transportation field. But we are really excited as we’ve been talking over the last few days about all the other potential things that we can be doing. We’ve got lots of ideas of where we can collaborate. And I think not just in Trusted Society. As I said, there are other key focus areas that we have in Fujitsu’s Uvance unit. And I think that there’s the opportunity to extend our partnership into smart manufacturing; for example, looking at end-to-end supply chain management in the manufacturing process and so on. So, there’s lots of opportunities for us to work there. We are talking to several major airports in the UK about some of the solutions that we might bring together.

BK: Good.

CM: So yeah, there’s lots of really, really exciting opportunities, not just in transportation but beyond.

UJ: Absolutely, yeah.

BK: Yeah.

UJ: I’m nevertheless … I would really pick up this topic of transportation within the city a little bit more.

BK: Sure.

UJ: To make it more practical because we are not having a theoretical partnership. We are doing real work.

BK: Sure. Yeah. Yeah. Which is good.

UJ: So, it has to be some tangible things.

CM: I think that’s really good-

BK: Absolutely.

CM: That’s a really, really good point to pick up on actually, because we’re not just looking at big societal issues ourselves in isolation; we’re collaborating with customers looking at real-world problems.

BK: Yeah.

CM: And creating tangible solutions that we can demonstrate and say look, not just talk about presentations but here’s how it’s going to work for you.

BK: Absolutely. Well, that’s good. Yeah. You want to see what the impact is actually going to be.

CM: Absolutely.

UJ: And I will pick up the topic Cathy mentioned. We did together today the presentation about smart mobility and the impact and can even go beyond. Just to give you an idea why it’s so important. Its micro-mobility, I’m talking, these are bikes, rental bikes and the e-scooters. And I’m not stressing about misplaced scooters when the residents are saying “Ah, I don’t like to climb above that thing” or “why is this mis-parked” and these things. No, I’m talking about the social impact of these things.

So, the social impact, MacKenzie did a study which says the current value of micro-mobility for a city like Munich is 0.1%. Now what happens if can increase that to 10% and replace car traffic?

BK: Yeah.

UJ: So –

BK: Yeah.

UJ: And what is, what is the consequence out of it? And there are two major consequences out of it. The first consequence is that we are going to have a reduction in carbon emissions by 80,000 tons. So, for me, I like digits. Of course, I’m computer engineer.

BK: Yeah. Yeah.

UJ: But 80,000 tons … I cannot imagine what 80,000 tons means at all. So, I was looking up what is the average emission of a classical one house, and if you’re going to see then the 80,000 tons equals 16,000 houses. And 16,000 houses mean it’s a small city.

BK: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

UJ: Yeah. Just to make it clear for the city of Munich with increasing micro-mobility equals the emission of a small city. And it’s not only the emissions, but it’s also going to free up space which can be converted. And this is another topic we’re working together with Fujitsu. You know between two houses, you have only one space and it needs to be shared. I mean, not necessarily in the US because the US has less broadways. But in Europe, broadways for pedestrians are very commonly used.

And then you have pedestrian space, and you have parking space, and you have the driving space. And then comes the e-scooters and the bikes, and all of it has to work in harmony and be safe. And of course, if it works well then you can create more green space. You can create a more liveable city. A more liveable city means a higher degree of green elements, like parks and bushes and trees. You’re going to reduce the impact of the climate, so you have fewer hot days, which are caused by the climate change.

BK: Yeah. Yeah.

UJ: So, it has a huge impact. By changing a small thing, making micro-mobility part of our mobility concepts, we can really change a lot of things, which we didn’t think about. And this is exactly what Cathy was talking about is, not only thinking about one single static element, think about the consequences.

CM: Yeah.

UJ: And what impact it makes. And this is a lovely part.

CM: Yeah.

BK: Yeah.

CM: I think some people might focus on just on the e-scooter element and kind of go “Well that’s not going to change anything”, but of course it’s one thing.

BK: Yeah.

CM: And it’s this beginning of lots of other things. And like Uwe said, being able to have multi-modal forms of transport will have another impact beyond the green impact. Widening it, widening accessibility for people, enabling them to get out and about, that has a huge impact on people’s lives.

BK: Yeah.

CM: Making cities accessible to everybody, is another area that I think can really help with.

UJ: And then as you have it in the Trusted Society, what about the elderly people? I don’t envision that or standing on an e-bike or something like that. It’s not working.

BK: Yeah. No, no. But I like how it’s a small initiative because the impact is minimal as far as implementing it. But then the impact to the actual environment and to the city is greater than you expected.

UJ: Yeah.

BK: And it’s just one phase.

UJ: Yeah.

CM: Yeah.

BK: So, I like that. I like that. You’re, you’re moving into multiple things though. Well, what about AI? Where does that come into the whole thing?

CM: That’s kind of an enabling technology for digital. Digital twin is not in and of itself a technology. It’s a conglomeration of a number of technologies, which when you bring them all together, you create value that is greater than the sum of its individual parts. So, AI is part of the solution and I’ll let Uwe explain the AI a little bit more. But I think-

BK: Thanks lot, Cathy.

CM: Yeah. I’ll hand over to you to go hand in the hospital pass over to you.

UJ: Well actually AI is going to apply there on multiple levels.

BK: Okay.

UJ: So, when, when we talk about the digital twin, I’m sorry that I need to go a little step back in order to make it more transparent why AI plays a role. So, when we talk about digital twins, we have actually three different dimensions. We have a static dimension, which sets the frame in terms of a city. It will be a 3D city model, for example. Then we have a dynamic dimension, that’s what Cathy was referring to. So, we are going to play different simulations, we are going to trace any kind of [inaudible 00:18:56]to get live feeds. So, it makes it living, the stuff. And the third dimension, obviously the social dimension. Everything we do has impact, as we already have seen with the shared mobility stuff. AI plays a role in a couple of different stages. When creating the city model Hexagon is really using AI to automate the process of creating. Because if you want to have an up-to-date city model, manmade is not working.

BK: Yeah.

UJ: So, you need to automate the process. And the automation has actually two dimensions there. One is really to automate these beautiful, nice buildings, and shapes and blah, blah, blah. And the second one is directly analysing, what kind of object do we have here? If it’s a building, if it’s a roof, if it’s a sealed area, if it’s an infrastructure, if it’s a tree. So, these things are automatically done. So, these are, so to say, derived data products based on AI.

BK: Okay.

UJ: The next step will be when we are going to add the sensor feeds in because sensor feeds are discrete values. So, we have, for example take sensor feed here from the room. It has to be most probably something like 70 degrees or something like that. Now the next step will be, if you’re going to monitor the sensor feeds, you can identify trends. And then these trends will lead them to predictive analytics. And you’re going to need AI or machine learning functionality to help make things visible, which you don’t see without these tools because they are going to dive into some secrets and establish relationships you won’t see or notice by yourself. And this is very, very helpful.

CM: Hmm. I think where the real power of digital twin technology comes in, is when you are bringing together multiple digital twins. And then you can really get the benefit of that kind of cross digital twin analysis.

UJ: Yeah.

CM: That will really derive insights that, as a human being, we just couldn’t do that on our own.

BK: Sure.

CM: So that technology really has unimaginable possibilities, I think today.

BK: Yeah. That’s amazing.

UJ: We started with a very simple version of what Cathy was indicating. So, the city we got from the Hexagon Content Programs division, was a 3D city model of Frankfurt. The Frankfurt public transportation is our customer. We took that data and formed this model and these things; the kind of infrastructure digital twin mapped that and fused it with the 3D city model. And it was amazing what kind of results people were seeing — experts not me – an expert was seeing out of this combined digital twin analytics and this was really mind blowing for them. So, it’s not a hypothetical case. It’s really working like that.

BK: Yeah. That’s good to hear that. That’s great. Well, thank you both for sharing all this. I mean this is incredible stuff, just to hear how it’s actually impacting. Now where can we go for more information? And then of course any final thoughts you have as well?

CM: Well, I think just that final thoughts on this digital twin is a concept rather than a technology. And as I said, I think that the possibilities for it are unimaginable. I think it will transform our lives in the same way as things like the internet has previously.

BK: Sure.

CM: So, it’s something really worth finding out more about and how it can enhance our lives and how we can use it practically. My experience is sometimes people are thinking that “oh, well we’re already doing simulation” or “we’re already doing that” but I think really, I would like people to really understand the breadth of capabilities that we have and how we can bring the technology of Fujitsu and Hexagon together. As you were saying Uwe, the breadth of our capabilities across the two organisations is quite astonishing. I don’t think there’s any problems we can’t solve together, frankly speaking.

BK: I love that.

CM: But yeah. So, over to you to, just kind of final thoughts.

UJ: You’re stealing my thoughts. No, no, actually maybe if we spent too much time together already, but I would phrase it a little bit differently. So, for me, and it’s also what I’m always communicated with customers, digital twin’s is not the product, it’s a journey. And it’s a journey where we are actually on the starting point. So, we have a long way to go, and we have no idea where the paths are bringing us. The only thing we know, it has a bright future, and this is the bet we place on that. And more importantly, and this is also something we as technology companies, as well as customers, need to understand — It’s really teamwork. It won’t work one without the other.

BK: Sure, sure.

UJ: Yeah. So, we need to team, we are team players. It works very well but also the customer has to be a team player. And they have to go with us this way because making digital twins alone without the purpose is not worth of spending the money and the time for it.

BK: Yeah. That’s great. Well, thank you both. I really appreciate it. This has been very fun to listen to and just, I’m just excited to see what you’re doing so that’s wonderful. Thank you for joining us.

CM: Pleasure. Pleasure. Thanks for inviting us.

BK: Of course. All right. Well Dr. Uwe Jasnoch Director of Government and Transportation from Hexagon Safety Infrastructure and Geospatial, and Cathy McCann, Vice President, Head of Trusted Society from Fujitsu. Thank you so much for joining us here on HxGN radio.

To learn more and to listen to additional episodes, head on over to iTunes, Spotify, or SoundCloud, you can visit HxGNspotlight.com for more information and more stories from Hexagon. Thank you so much again, and have a wonderful day.