Digital twins are increasingly being used to help design, monitor and manage cities, proving their worth beyond the industrial environment, according to new research from tech market advisory firm ABI Research.
A digital twin is a virtual model that connects the physical and digital worlds, with real-time data analysed and simulated in a virtual environment. For cities, a digital twin can combine spatial modelling of the built environment, mathematical models of electrical and mechanical systems, and real-time sensor data derived from IoT platform solutions.
In Digital Twins, Smart Cities, and Urban Modeling, ABI Research predicts that the installed base of deployments will grow from just a handful of early implementations in 2019 to more than 500 by 2025.
“Originally developed for industrial systems, the digital twin concept is now spreading to the smart cities environment,” said Dominique Bonte, vice president of End Markets at ABI Research. “However, it won’t be a single Uber-like digital twin for an entire city but rather an aggregation and integration of domain-specific digital twins for systems like smart buildings, traffic infrastructure, energy grids, and water management.”
According to the report, key use cases across verticals include the simulation of people movements and emergency evacuations, modelling of flooding risks, smart building design and energy management via occupancy tracking, road traffic modelling and simulation, air quality monitoring and prediction, modelling of green infrastructure and circular urban economies, and cyber threat analysis.
Cities that have already deployed digital twins include Newcastle, Rotterdam, Boston, New York, Singapore, Stockholm, Helsinki, Jaipur and Amaravati.
Challenges for adoption remain, mainly related to the complexity of city-wide modelling and the lack of standards supporting cross-vertical data exchange.
However, “Just adding a thin layer of IoT tech on top of legacy infrastructure will no longer suffice to address the multiple challenges cities will face in the future,” Bonte concluded.
Tags: digital twins