As your city continues to grapple with operating during the pandemic, you may be making the necessary changes to support social distancing and working from home. While preparing for the post-pandemic new normal, you may also be looking for ways to reinvent how you work. Some cities are increasingly focused on smart city initiatives, infrastructure resilience strategies and operational performance for buildings, campuses and utilities. Some are investing in access to cloud services and open initiatives, as well as exploring digital twins and the internet of things (IoT) to improve infrastructure and deliver services.
Digital advancement initiatives are increasing in priority to help stimulate economic growth, create efficiencies and support smart city initiatives. Imagine a 3D city model that helps you improve decisions, planning and stakeholder engagement. It’s now possible to have a top-down and bottom-up approach for stakeholder decision support and engagement. Although some of these city models are beautiful visuals, your model can be a digital twin that works as a collaborative platform, providing improved visualisation and communication, increased citizen engagement, improved planning, and reduced delays. Here are six potential benefits of a digital twin:
Stream large-scale digital twins online to visualise projects – Span entire cities and go down to the street level with a combination of terrain models, reality meshes and semantic 3D city models.
Fast-track your planning decisions – Get your key stakeholders more engaged in decision-making and help limit planning and execution errors by creating a shared project vision. Although building a city-scale digital twin may sound difficult, it is very simple to include your data, build scenarios and engage your internal stakeholders to create the best plan and project. Get everyone quickly engaged and fast-track approval processes.
Engage the public and create a feedback loop – Help everyone better understand the impact of plans and projects, potentially improving safety and helping avoid commuting congestion near project sites. With a digital twin workflow, you can provide a fast, easy and visual way to interactively communicate, promote and share city projects to successfully gain citizen buy-in and attract investors. Provide digital experiences like web, mobile, touchscreen or even wearables. By performing crowdsourcing of your planning and project information, you get a top-down and bottom-up approach to planning.
Improve decisions and operations – With this digital twin environment, you can integrate additional information from spatial databases, workforce management system open data servers or 3D mapping solutions. Additionally, review your engineering design models in context of the city. Connect other key municipal information to your model to allow data-driven decisions in your city planning and operations. The digital twin provides a great environment for dashboards and project portals, as well as viewing of sensors in a mapping environment.
Address the challenges of the new normal – You can consider the necessary changes for social distancing and the resulting effect on crowd movement. Many analysis results can be visualised against the campus- or city-scale model. By optimising space, it’s possible to simulate and analyse foot traffic on/in infrastructure assets, including rail and metro stations, stadiums, shopping malls and airports. By accurately testing designs on both operational and commercial plans, developers can enhance footfall, wayfinding, crowd management and safety and security in support of a city’s goals helping to improve liveability and walkability.
Make infrastructure resilient – Extreme hydrometeorological events, with rapid urbanisation and inadequate draining substructures, trigger flooding and cause major damage to infrastructure, impact human safety and weaken the economy. You can deliver accurate and reliable risk and analysis data to outside agencies. Resilience teams can make the best decisions using actionable insights to anticipate early warnings, as well as promote response to increase public safety and decrease infrastructure damage while minimising service interruption, avoiding additional mitigation cost and improving response times. Also, utilities can use scenario information to define mitigation strategies, including cost/benefit analyses of changes to utility systems.
Start small. Start with the data you have now. Find an area of the city, maybe even a block, where you have data available to create a digital twin. Prove the value on this use-case and then scale. Add additional use cases and priorities that are most important to your city. Then, get ready for a top-down and bottom-up approach for decision support and engagement with your stakeholders. Start today!
Teresa Elliott is senior director of industry marketing at Bentley Systems
Start your digital twin city at bentley.com.
This article was originally published in the Autumn 2020 issue of The Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.