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24 Nov 2020 | Industry Insights

Cities and their digital doppelgängers

Cities from all corners of the globe are increasingly adopting digital twin technology, but how will they impact large scale projects and how will this impact develop in the future.

Digital twins have the ability to disrupt how capital projects and global infrastructure is planned, built and operated. This is down to their enhanced predictability and performance capabilities. The innovative and advanced technology is most prevalent on capital projects when cities are being developed and also on their operations. They have become the early adopters of digital twin technology, users such as city planners are gaining competitive advantage via virtual models.

It is extremely important that the industry looks at how large-scale projects are being impacted by the adoption of digital twins in cities all over the world, as well as how this impact will develop going forward.

City development benefits

Asset design is vastly improved when using a digital twin. They also enable better project execution and asset operations by integrating data and information throughout an asset’s lifecycle. It has the ability to improve the design of a new asset, the understanding of an existing asset, run simulations and scenarios or provide a digital snapshot for future work.

This technology provides stakeholders involved in the operation of a city the access to more tools and information when comparing against traditional methods and techniques. The tools are there to help a city to operate as effectively as possible. A selection of areas that can be improved through this involves:

  • Construction progress
  • Energy consumption
  • Environmental conditions
  • Public safety
  • Waste management
  • Security monitoring
  • Mobility improvements
  • Infrastructure management

A digital twin from the outset

Integrating digital twin technology at the beginning of a project proves to be a huge benefit. Cities around the world are beginning to take notice of this and as a result, there has been a rise in the adoption of this emerging technology.

The new capital of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, named Amaravati, is thought to be the first entire city born with a digital twin. This is the most recent hub to create a digital twin, cities such as Glasgow, Boston and Singapore have also embraced the technology.

Using a digital twin in the creation of a new city such as Amaravati will help to ensure the city is built effectively as possible, everything will be scenarioised in advance allowing for optimised outcomes. Hopefully, this project will be the push the industry needs to revolutionise how cities are designed, built and managed in the future.

Retrospective building

Just like digital twins of assets that are already built, digital twins of cities offer the ability to create retrospectively. Calibrated models can be developed through interrogating real-time data that exists within a built asset. This can be used to determine inputs for a simulation model that is compared to measure sensor data. The calibrated model then turns into a digital asset.

In terms of a city, established urban locations can be recreated in a digital format to test and analyse city outputs and patterns as well as functioning as a simulation model.

What about the future?

It is clear that digital twins can aid stakeholders in reducing errors and improving the planning, building and operation of a city, however, data security and the sharing of confidential information is a stumbling block that is proving to be a challenge.

Should this challenge be overcome, digital twins can transform how the world’s cities are planned, built and operated, in turn, creating more efficient and effective cities around the world.