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  • Writer's pictureHammer Missions

How Do Drones & Digital Twins Power the Golden Thread of Information?

Updated: Feb 2

In last week’s article, we looked at the Golden Thread concept and how managing, storing and sharing data of the built environment will ultimately lead to safer building management.

This week we look more closely at making the golden thread of information a tangible reality using some existing tools and some smart new working practices.

digital twin model

Working With What You’ve Got

The Golden Thread relies on accurate digital records of everything about a building – its structural components, utility schematics, occupancy records, environmental issues. Any AEC business or BIM specialist will now be adept at keeping digital records throughout the entire lifecycle of a project but new guidelines have placed extra emphasis on accountability and collaboration – something which The Golden Thread Report highlighted as being a key stumbling block for many AEC operators.

Although the golden thread is aspirational and not a legal requirement, many businesses will find that they are spinning their own thread without even knowing it. Most AEC companies will already have created a collaborative data strategy to comply with BIM Level 2 or ISO 19650 requirements. ISO 19650 was introduced to replace BIM Level 2 standards and sought to bring an international level of standardization to the terminology and language found in the documentation. Along with these basic changes were also some key transitional requirements. Many of which were based around shareable data and full project visibility. Without going into the granular details of ISO 19650, the new requirements help to make the golden thread easier to adopt and accomplish.

digital twin of building on screen

Enhanced Collaboration

One of the biggest challenges often highlighted by AEC professionals is data management and sharing. With so many stakeholders in a project it can often feel like herding cats. But how can you tie in multiple data and information sources all in one place so that everyone has full visibility of what they need when they need it?

One of the most powerful tools at a BIM or AEC business’s disposal is a drone. Remote data collection has made many tasks easier, faster, more repeatable, and much safer but in the last two years a drone’s usefulness has taken on new life in the space – through the development of digital twins. Digital Twins are one of the big game-changers for BIM and ultimately the Golden Thread.

Drones are now used at almost every stage of a building’s life cycle. From initial topographic and environmental land surveys to infrastructure and asset maps of a completed construction – data is collected every step of the way. More than often this data remains with the person or people who have commissioned it and those who collected it. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if there was a centralized location for all of the data to go? Wouldn’t that make life easier?

Drones power Digital Twins | Hammer Missions
Drones power Digital Twins | Hammer Missions

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BIM & the Digital Twin

Simply put, a ‘digital twin’ is an exact 3D visual representation of a built asset or environment. But rather than being a static model captured at a specific moment in time, a digital twin is more evolved. The ultimate and most advanced digital twin is fed or created by multiple strings of data which are used to create a real time model. This model can hold historic details throughout the build process or be used for simulations of future events or changes. It can also be shared, annotated and inspected in great detail. A digital twin should hold all of the information needed by everyone involved in a project, all in one place. From architects to site managers, building owners to maintenance teams. Even emergency services can benefit from a digital twin model.

Creating a Digital Twin with a Drone

Construction companies have been using drones to improve their BIM workflows for a few years, so a digital twin isn’t such a foreign concept. Architects rely on drones for site surveys and the creation of 3D renders and models so again, this isn’t unknown territory. What makes drone-derived digital twins interesting is the speed at which you can update your model, view any changes and take action. The collaborative possibilities are endless when you incorporate a digital twin into your project data strategy.

But where do you start? Chances are you’ve already got most of the pieces of the puzzle. Creating a digital twin is about pulling different strings of data together to form one fully functioning model. If this data is able to be easily shared, updated and protected for the project’s entire lifecycle then that’s your golden thread created.

A Digital Twin created in Hammer Missions
A Digital Twin created in Hammer Missions

1. A Clear Definition

A clear definition when planning a new project is key and the success of a digital twin model is no different. Having a clear idea of what you want your digital twin to include will mean you don’t end up omitting something important. Engaging all stakeholders from the outset is vital to ensure that everyone gets what they want or need from the project, and you can scale the data collection and integration accordingly.

2. Speak to Your Drone Software Supplier

Drones have been a game changer for AEC professionals, so chances are you already use drone data. Ideally you will want to start your digital twin with new data so start by talking to your drone software provider about your plans. They will also know what data you will need and how best to process it.

3. Collaboration between Stakeholders

Where you are a large established enterprise or an upcoming SME, collaboration between different team members, stakeholders and other specialists both inside and outside the organisation is key. The good part is digital twins can be created in-house without employing outside talent with a couple of useful tools, but have a clear & collaborative approach is key.

Drone Flight Planning for Digital Twins
Drone Flight Planning for Digital Twins

If you don’t already have a drone program within your business, you’ll need to start from the ground up. We created this guide to help enterprise businesses launch their own drone programme. Then you’ll need the right software. Hammer Missions helps turn drone data and imagery into easily usable information. This information can be fed into a digital twin model to allow you to document, view and update a project throughout its entire lifecycle.

One of the key benefits of a digital twin is the ability to continually update the model with up-to-date information. This means that the data collected needs to be carefully captured and of good quality each time you want an update. Hammer Missions also includes the ability to automate your flight plan. With over 15 flight plans embedded into the software, each designed for that specific use case, you can be sure that each data set you collect is accurate and repeatable.


If you’re looking to make the golden thread a meaningful reality in your AEC business, drone derived digital twins offer the best and easiest solution. It doesn’t have to be hard work to incorporate drone data into the thread either. All you need is a bit of prior planning and the right partners.

About Us

Hammer Missions is a software platform that helps drone (UAV) teams work with versatile & high-quality drone data for site surveys and asset inspections. Our goal is to help businesses cut costs and increase ROI by building operational efficiency in their drone programs.

Hammer Hub is a cloud-based platform where drone data can be processed and visualized in a full 3D environment. This data can also be annotated using AI to accelerate the annotation process, and it can then be shared with other team members or stakeholders within the organization for further review – a great benefit when working with a digital twin.

- Team at Hammer Missions


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