Staff Articles

Urbanizing Smart Cities With Digital Twins

Discover the potential of digital twins as a solution to predictions and simulations in response to real-world conditions.

Table of Contents
Introduction
1. Twinning With the New Age Smart Cities
2. Global Views on Digital Twin’s Smart Cities
2.1. Virtual Singapore
2.2. New York City’s Vision Zero
Wrapping Up

Introduction

Digital twin (DT) is a rapidly growing concept that has gained traction as it can improve product designs, optimize performance at an industrial level, and create proactive maintenance services. This upgrading technology has started taking shape on an entirely new and different scale as it has become the pillar for futuristic smart cities.

In the scenario of smart cities, digital twins work as virtual replicas of the city’s assets, such as buildings, road lighting systems, energy and grid capabilities, and mobility solutions. However, it is not enough to develop a third-dimensional (3D) model of these sources. Therefore, the digital twin of smart cities pairs the 3D information with spatial modeling (for building the environment), simulations and mathematical models (for workable electric and mechanical systems), and other components that use real-time data feeds from the Internet of Things (IoT) platforms.

In this exclusive AITech Park, we will explore how digital twins will help smart cities evolve in 2024.

1. Twinning With the New Age Smart Cities

With the introduction of digital twins in the construction field, this technology has the potential to unlock data that was traditionally trapped in silos. 

When constructing a new building, the digital twin is developed from the initial phases of the project by the architects, engineers, and construction (AEC) teams to work together to define each other’s performance goals and get the desired outcomes. Now, as the project progresses, the data is continuously collected and fed into the model using any digital twin solution. When the infrastructure is handed over to the owner, the virtual twin collects operations data that will fine-tune performance and manage maintenance in the long term. 

As the digital twin mostly revolves around data supplies, it’s the physical twin that helps in performing predictions and simulations in response to real-world conditions. For instance, in the construction industry, the physical twin can be used to align a building’s solar facade that follows the path of the sun and modifies airflow to minimize the spread of germs. 

Therefore, it is evident that DT allows the AEC teams to connect better throughout the entire assignment lifecycle, from design to decommissioning. Further, integrating static data aids in specifying the segment and creating maintenance schedules based on the dynamic data of occupancy rates and environmental conditions. 

When DT is combined with building information modeling (BIM), the AEC team is well connected to data, which processes dynamic, real-time, bidirectional information management, bringing out the full potential of integrated workflows and information sharing with clients.

2. Global Views on Digital Twin’s Smart Cities

Looking at the rising population, numerous governments across the world have taken a national strategic view on implementing digital twins and evolving their cities into smart cities. For instance, Dubai has recently decreed a mandate on the use of BIM for large-scale projects. Similarly, the United Kingdom has proposed to construct any new building based on the digital twin concept. 

On the other hand, cities such as Singapore and New York have already implemented DT technology. Let’s take a look at how DT technology has changed the outlook in these most populous cities.

2.1. Virtual Singapore

Singapore has successfully employed DT technology by developing a virtual replica of the city that includes different commercial and residential buildings, roads and lanes, and various utilities, along with tracking human traffic and environmental data. The implementation of this technology provides a continuous update to the government and city councils to adjust to any changes in the city. The data is further shared with urban planners and disaster management to make strategic decisions in the case of resource allocation and accommodate the growing population within the limited area.

2.2. New York City’s Vision Zero

To eliminate traffic New York City’s Vision Zero initiative aims to improve road safety. By implementing DT, the metropolis has been able to monitor real-time traffic situations, pinpoint accident-prone zones, and enforce preventive measures. The DT technology also integrates data from IoT-driven traffic sensors, cameras, and public reports, providing a comprehensive view of the city’s traffic and guiding policies that have significantly reduced traffic-related incidents.

Wrapping Up

As DT is integrated with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), this technology will evolve from being a conceptual tool to becoming more competent and autonomous as software capabilities expand. The application areas for digital twins will continue to reach new heights in the coming years and will change the way AEC teams create, use, and optimize physical spaces and multiple processes.

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