02. 10. 2018



As cities are rapidly growing in population, size and energy consumption, an efficient and proper management of the city is of great necessity. In this line, the concept of digital twin arises. A digital twin for a smart city is a virtual replica of a city, which would consist of the digital representation of urban networks such as an urban power system which makes use of real data obtained from the monitoring devices within the city. This concept of the digital twin was born with the virtual representation of specific objects such as wind turbines, in which a virtual model based on the physical turbine is developed in order to optimize its performance and cost-effectiveness. City wise, it is important to know that the increasing use of Internet of Things (IoT) and the consequent decrease in cost of technology is easing the implementation of future city digital twins due to a substantial increase of information sharing.

You might be asking yourself why a virtual copy of a city is useful and the answer is to create prevention strategies or to design new infrastructures. This perfectly links to weather events due to climate change, as real-time measured data of a city could feed the virtual model to analyse the impacts of such weather event and hence to develop a corrective action plan from a city planner point of view. The ability of quickly responding and recovering from unexpected events in a city is essential to increase resilience, which is the objective of the RESCCUE project. For example, by placing sensors in the transport network, in case of an emergency event, a city planner can be fed with this real-time information in order to re-route affected paths.

An application example of a digital city is already under development in Singapore (Virtual Singapore) where an open data platform with 3D maps of the city is under construction. Eventually, this platform will offer several benefits to users such as policy and business analysis, decision making, test-bedding of ideas and community collaboration. In practical terms, Virtual Singapore will be able, for example, to provide information on the amount of sunlight and ambient temperature, which is very useful information for a city planner to build comfortable atmospheres for citizens. Another real-life use of the platform will be the possibility of visualizing the city landscape with all its physical abruptions, allowing therefore to plan emergency paths under emergency situations.

The development of city digital twins is definitely allowing to narrow the gap between reality and virtual life and it will be essential to empower cities.