The deployment and use of digital twins in urban contexts are gaining momentum. Cities are increasingly discovering its benefits for both the planning and operational management of their assets.
ABI Research expects cities to achieve cost savings of US$280 billion by 2030 by using digital twins for more efficient urban planning.
Dominique Bonte, vice president of end markets at ABI Research says digital twins will become the ultimate tool for city governments to design, plan and manage their connected infrastructure and assets in an efficient and cost-effective way.
He adds that cost savings can be obtained in key areas, such as energy and utilities, transportation, safety and security, and infrastructure (roads/buildings).
“However, urban digital twins also offer many other advantages in terms of supporting and improving sustainability, circularity, decarbonization, and the overall quality of urban living,” he cautions.
Efficiencies use cases:
- First-time right designs of buildings and other physical infrastructure avoiding expensive modifications after completion
- Energy-efficient building designs maximizing solar capacity yielding lifetime long energy savings
- Resilient and safe infrastructure designs reducing policing and emergency response costs
- Optimized designs of utilities, streetlight, and surveillance networks to achieve the same coverage target with less capex
- Design of covid-19 proof buildings resulting in healthcare savings
- Digital twins enabling efficient eGovernment in terms of the seamless exchange of data with citizens for mediation purposes.
Leading suppliers offering urban digital twin planning solution suites include Engie-owned Siradel (telco, surveillance, streetlights, mobility), Dassault Systèmes (generative building design, energy, airflow, green infrastructure), Siemens (buildings, electric digital twin), ANSYS (lighting, Covid-19), IES (energy-efficient campuses), Bentley Systems (ports, water distribution), Microsoft, AutoDesk, PTV (transportation), and CityZenith (districts).
Some vendors specialize in specific capabilities such as physics modelling and simulation of light, heat, airflow, noise, radio wave propagation (ANSYS, Siradel), generative design (Dassault Systèmes), and dynamic modelling of vehicle and pedestrian traffic (PTV). Underlying all solutions is their capability for virtual prototyping and scenario analysis.
“While the cost-saving advantages of digital twins allow cities to achieve fast ROIs, the increasingly complex nature of connected and smart urban infrastructure, especially in view of future smart urban concepts, will simply mandate the deployment of digital twins as critical, holistic management tools, similar to the role they play in other industries like manufacturing,” Bonte concludes.