- smart cities
- Digital Twin
Municipal Digital Twins Can Transform City Planning
Urban planning has always faced challenges. Its planning takes place behind closed doors and is a bureaucratic process. Urban plans must be defended to the public, but communication with citizens that lack specialized knowledge is difficult. Urban planning processes can seem arcane, opaque, and even combative. The city of Rennes, France is hoping to change this. Rennes’ tool for change is one Navigant Research has discussed before—the digital twin.
Through a partnership with Dassault Systèmes, Rennes is constructing a digital twin of its entire metropolitan region. Every building and road will be mapped in 3D and publicly accessible through the Virtual Rennes platform. Rennes is also aiming to incorporate data from its smart city sensors into the digital twin model so it has the same real-time events as analogue Rennes. Officials in Rennes are aiming to use this unprecedented level of interactivity inherent to the digital twin model to more actively engage stakeholders in planning processes.
When finished, planning for the city can be modeled and studied in ways that are more intuitive than physical renderings. Curious about how a new mobility strategy will affect traffic flow in a neighborhood? Not only can you visualize the changes in the digital twin, but residents could virtually walk around the strategy’s elements and see traffic models play out in front of them.
New Ways to Engage Stakeholders
Perhaps more importantly, another ability of the digital twin model engages stakeholders in a more meaningful way than public hearings. For example, citizen groups, local businesses, and other stakeholders can interact with the planning process in real time instead of waiting for a public hearing to voice opinions. With the digital twin, project design can be transformed from a cloistered process into a collaborative one.
Further, with the ability of digital twins to incorporate outside datasets, this idea of broadening stakeholder engagement could create a new way of thinking about municipal service design. For instance, transportation planners could combine socioeconomic data layers with traffic flow sensors to ensure that public transportation serves those most in need of mobility while optimizing for short transit times. By combining demographic, hospital admissions data, and local climate change projections with weather and air quality Internet of Things sensor networks, public health departments can strategize efforts in the face of increasing heat waves and worsening air quality.
Pioneering Digital Social Engagement
With this type of analytical and communicative power, it is no surprise that cities around the world are adapting digital twin models. Singapore is also working with Dassault Systèmes to create its own digital twin. The goal is to provide “people with a virtual yet realistic platform to connect and create awareness and services that enrich their community.”
Amaravati, India, the new capital of the Andhra Pradesh state, is pushing the technology further by being the first city built entirely as a digital twin before construction begins. Giving each citizen an ID that would populate the digital twin and allow residents to interact with municipal services is a part of Amaravati’s plans.