Digital twins (DT) of cities and regions are gaining in popularity the world over. In Europe, more than two dozen DT initiatives have sprung up in recent years. Some of them are still in development, but many are already operational, having been used to tackle real-world problems like traffic and noise pollution by policy makers and urban planners at different levels of government.
Inspired by the success of early adopters, more and more public administrations are now considering DTs as a solution to persistent ‘wicked’ societal challenges. Among the potential adopters of DTs is the Alpine region of Austria. Given its exposure to climate change, the region wants to explore the potential of DT technology in providing advanced capability to monitor and forecast changes in weather and climate in the mountainous area.
To that end, an expert discussion was organised by WESTRIVEUP on 15 November 2021. It included guest speakers from various European DT projects who joined the physical session remotely to share their best practice advice and lessons learned. Representing DUET (Digital Urban European Twins) at the event was Jiri Bouchal of InnoConnect and Pavel Kogut of 21c Consultancy. Jiri showcased Pilsen’s experience with DTs while Pavel gave a general overview of the project, focusing on DUET’s technical architecture and its impact on policy making and communities.
DUET’s architecture is based on the open T-cell framework that enables simulation models, IoT data, visualisation components and various endpoints to interact with each other in a common environment. Dynamic correspondence makes it possible to monitor and synchronise the digital twin with the physical environment being mirrored. Thanks to these communication links, DUET’s solution can accurately mirror the complex and evolving nature of urban systems, which makes it an ideal sandbox for policy experimentation.
Impact on policymaking
DUET provides a risk-free testing environment for simulating alternative policy options. Users can explore a range of what-if scenarios related to traffic, air quality and noise pollution before investing time and resources into costly projects. Traffic analysts can simulate the impact of lane closures caused by construction work, analyse the effects of changes to a signaling plan or try to predict spikes in travel demand caused by local events. Urban planners can assess population exposure to noise generating activities and measure the effects of different policies involving infrastructure, buildings and sound barriers.
A simulation showing how a bridge closure in Pilsen impacts air pollution in adjacent streets
Impact on communities
Digital twin visualisations can build a shared picture of reality, fostering a common understanding among citizens about living conditions and any acute problems that they and their communities are facing. Another category of potential beneficiaries is private companies. For them, DUET’s ecosystem offers an opportunity to create new value propositions by sharing data and services with other providers in a trusted and secure manner.
Perhaps DUET’s biggest strength is its ability to make multi-actor collaboration meaningful and sustainable. By offering a holistic perspective on city dynamics, DUET can coalesce stakeholders around local challenges, encouraging them to seek consensus, define a shared vision and co-create solutions that will have a lasting impact.
If you want someone from 21c to speak at your event, don’t hesitate to reach out to us using the contact form on the home page.