It will work with the China Academy of Information and Communication Technology in a multi-year collaboration to increase both understanding and capacity of the technology in cities around the world.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) is working with the China Academy of Information and Communication Technology (CAICT) to help accelerate development and adoption of digital twin applications in cities.
The partnership will also serve to address unexpected challenges of data quality and security, related to the digital model of the physical world.
Public and private sector stakeholders
The report, Digital Twin Cities: Framework and Global Practices, shows how digital twinning is moving from the concept stage to implementation. It is the first output in a multi-year collaboration that brings together public and private sector stakeholders to accelerate the development and use of digital twin technologies in cities.
It draws on case studies from around the world, including from Kunming and Shenzen in China, Georgetown, Malaysia, New Mexico, US and Rennes, France. The report will also be complemented by workshops to build capacity and expertise around this suite of new digital tools and applications.
“This initiative comes at a critical time as cities across the globe are grappling with social, political and economic instability and increased demands for public services,” said Jeff Merritt, head of urban transformation, World Economic Forum. “The Covid-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of data-driven operations to enable more resilient and future-ready cities while also exposing the increased governance and security challenges that come with digitalisation.”
According to the Digital Twin Cities: Framework and Global Practices report, the digital twin city “pursues three visions”:
- more intensive and efficient urban production and operation
- liveable and convenient urban living spaces
- a sustainable urban ecological environment.
To help unlock the potential of digital twin technologies, the partnership has identified five areas of focus, which will be refined in the next two reports: guarantee data quality and security; lower the technical threshold for adoption; engage in innovation; refine industrial standards; and develop business models.
“This initiative comes at a critical time as cities across the globe are grappling with social, political and economic instability and increased demands for public services”
Examples of use cases given in the report include include optimising urban spatial layout, relieving traffic congestion at complex intersections, simulating and rehearsing responses to natural disasters, and scientifically formulating emergency evacuation plans.
“At present, the digital twin city is moving from the concept stage to the implementation stage,” said Xiaohui Yu, president, China Academy of Information and Communication Technology.
According to Hequan Wu, academician, Chinese Academy of Engineering, the digital twin still faces significant challenges. “Existing challenges include the fact that technology is still in development, a lack of standardisation of platform models, the need to readapt the city’s organisational structure and management system, and data security and privacy protection risks.”
“The Covid-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of data-driven operations to enable more resilient and future-ready cities while also exposing the increased governance and security challenges that come with digitalisation”
Simon Huffeteau, vice president, infrastructure and cities strategy, Dassault Systèmes, which develops digital twin technology, reckons that with several years of lessons learned and dozens of projects around the world, “the time to experiment with smart cities is now behind us”.
He added: “This joint report is timely and provides guidance and best practices for defining a virtual twin strategy and putting in place a plan. It will allow cities and businesses to invent and create this new public service: providing a purpose-driven virtual twin of a city or a region to all stakeholders.”