Digital city twins. The meta-trend you must know.
Meta-trends are overall societal developments that have a fundamental impact on the way we live. Knowing about these trends gives you an edge in knowledge and provides inspiration for strategic decisions.
Industries: No limitations
Personas: No limitations
Technology enablers: IoT, cloud infrastructure, data-driven business, AI deep learning, natural language processing, computer vision, smartphones, drone technology.
By 2025, it is estimated that up to 500 cities will have a digital twin. What does that mean for you?
As a technological pioneer, Singapore laid the foundation for a highly interesting technological development in 2018 when the city seed announced the development of a digital twin under the working title "Virtual Singapore". The next evolutionary stage of Building Information Modeling (BIM) was thus born, The project has since become a reality. All details and information about the city can be accessed via a detailed 3D model. All buildings, infrastructure facilities, water bodies and parks down to the individual trees. For each element there is comprehensive data that can be used for urban planning: Static data such as the positioning of traffic control systems and bus stops, dynamic data indicating the position of buses, for example, as well as real-time data from visitor flows and much more.
The model quickly generated international attention and sparked tremendous interest. Currently, several hundred cities worldwide are working on the development of a digital twin. So chances are high that in the future you, too, will live in a city where enormous amounts of data are collected using high-tech devices.
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Data collection via drones, laser scanners and smartphones with computer vision.
The same principle applies in digital smart cities as in the data-driven business: It's all about data. But how is the data acquired in the case of digital city twins? Data collection happens at multiple levels: In the case of Singapore, surface data was generated from two data sources: flying drones and ground vehicles with laser scanners. In the case of Stockholm, they are drawing on a technology partnership. The technological enablers are smartphones and computer vision mounted in cab fleets to scan the entire city.
This surface data is combined with data from various other sources such as cameras, temperature sensors and much more. In this way, additional demographic data, pedestrian flows, vehicle movements and climate changes are recorded. All in all, this creates a first-class database for planning decisions, which we will discuss in more detail in the next section.
What benefit is being pursued?
Modeling of weather effects in certain regions of the city.
Establishment of nationwide Internet connections (WLAN, 5G).
Area-wide installation of solar cells.
Planning of emergency evacuation routes.
Analysis of the power consumption of buildings at the click of a mouse.
Accessibility and availability of shaded walkways.
Adaptation of infrastructure based on demographic change (age distribution in residential areas).
Creation of accessibility for physically impaired citizens.
Planning of green spaces and parks.
And much more.
The Gemini Principles: Protecting privacy in the age of permanent data collection.
Every technical innovation offers opportunities and risks. No one will deny that electricity can be dangerous. But does that mean we want to live without electricity? Hardly. As with other topics, we as a society must find the right way to deal with data, establish security mechanisms and use the opportunities to our advantage.
Let's look at a possible approach using the United Kingdom as an example: in 2018, the British government launched a program to create a digital twin on a national level. A digital collaboration development center was established for all individuals and companies involved in the project to work together. Since all parties have access to the collected data and, in principle, everyone and everything can be found and monitored, nine Gemini Principles were developed to define the overarching ethical principles for handling the data. At three levels (Purpose, Trust and Function), the elementary pillars have been laid down. The exact definitions can be found on the University of Cambridge website.