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Thursday 21st January 2021

Important notice: Due to the current COVID-19 the date of the workshop is currently tentative, this will be confirmed early July 2020, in the meantime, we are keen to make people aware of this event with advanced notice and would like to hear from anyone interested in either attending and/or speaking. Please send your enquiries directly to Jane Leeks.


There are many different ways in which we can model the world. The three-dimensional (3D) paradigm for instance, sees objects as passing through time and being wholly present at each point in time. On the other hand, 4D ontology sees physical objects as being extended in time as well as space. So time is laid out in the same way as a spatial dimension. The concept of spacetime has long been used in physics to refer to models that integrate 3D space and time as a single 4D continuum. Such 4D models are not only used in physics to describe reality abstractly, but they can also be directly used to create concrete computer representations for the description of geographic phenomena/assets such as processes, people, places and systems. 

4D data modelling is not so much about dealing with time and change (though it does) as with identity, that is correctly identifying what you are interested in. It is the rigour and clarity this brings which is really where the value lies. Everything is a 4D object, even an image in an animation is some bits and bytes somewhere in memory or on a disk, or some LEDs with particular colours. In connecting Digital and Physical Twins, 4D data Modelling is orthogonal, in this sense, 4D data Modelling becomes a useful tool.

Recent advances in 4D modelling, particularly to support large scale data integration are hugely important, offering many advantages over current approaches. A key reason for this is that using traditional methods for any problem that involves multiple aspects such as change, maintaining history and lifecycles, will mean that the complexity increases dramatically. A 4D approach brings a rigour to the analysis that helps to manage this. 4D can for instance be useful where there is a need to ‘slice and dice’ in situations of complex knowledge and information and larger scales, because it takes account of the static, dynamic, spatial and dimensional.  As such, it can provide much more rigour with better quality and provenance to outputs. 4D data modelling offers the ability to be able to reconcile different views of the same thing, thus enabling wide scale data sharing. This in turn leads to better decision making, In security for instance, 4D modelling enables accurate identification of subject matter. 

Current and potential applications of 4D data modelling are wide ranging. It is already being considered in the built environment area - building information modelling (BIM), adding value to all phases of the construction process through schedule simulations benefiting multiple aspects of a project. Additionally, in geospatial data management, 4D has been identified as a key concept to support the geometric, topological, thematic, and temporal modelling of buildings and cities and subsurface models in mining and surveying. 4D data modelling can also be used for monitoring, diagnostics and prognostics to optimise asset performance and utilization. Engineering applications are extensive and include aircraft engines, wind turbines, buildings and large structures, control systems. So in confusing and complex situations such as with the visualization of complex structures, the analysis approach involves space-time diagrams that can lead to insight as to what is going on and to bring clarity. This highlights the fact that 4D modelling is not only about bringing the time dimension into play, which some 3D approaches already do.

Aims and Objectives

This workshop will feature two main sessions to include presentations on state-of-the–art research from experts in 4D ontology for large scale data integration and perspectives from end-users on challenges and applications. It is a joint collaboration between the Newton Gateway to Mathematics, GCHQ, UCL STEaPP,  University of Southampton, University of Warwick and Brunel University.

A key aim is to highlight the latest research developments and present example use cases and promising new application areas of 4D integrated data modelling techniques.  Benefits of 4D are seen in complex situations where 4D analysis can help to clarify what is happening and hold appropriate data. The ‘system of systems’ example highlights this well, e.g. in the context of aviation, where an engine fuel pump is understood as: a thing in its own right, a component for the engine, it is also a component of the aeroplane within which the engine is installed.

This event aims to bring together various stakeholders (both research and end users) from multiple communities, who would be interested in pursuing these ideas and different approaches. It is hoped that this workshop can help connect people and build closer links and collaborations towards a more joined-up community. 
The day will combine talks and 2 discussion panels and include: 

  • An overview of the current modelling landscape, a national perspective
  • Research areas and applications
  • Challenges and future opportunities
  • Vision and future strategy

A Provisional Programme will be available soon.

Registration and Venue

To register and for further information, please follow the registration link in the left hand panel.

The workshop will take place in London, venue to be confirmed once the date is finalised.

In collaboration with