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Getting started with city-scale twins

By Robyn Francis | Global Engagement Coordinator | Smart Cities Council

Digital Twin Week looks to specifically support the advancement of Digital Twins within our cities, towns and regions. On Day two, we saw the first of many sessions focussed on helping Council's.

This session focused on the lessons we have learned on how to help cities get started on their Digital Twin journey, how to get a wide group of stakeholders involved, and how to leverage existing sources of data, inside and outside the city.

We looked at some case studies across planning, development approvals, citizen engagement, resilience and aligning your digital twin strategy with meeting Sustainable Development Goals.

Our session guests included:

Brian Middleton | Bentley

Phil Christensen | Bentley

Damien Cutcliffe | WSP

Gavin Cotterill | PCSG

Robert Stevenson | City of Hobart

Topics covered included lessons learned in getting started, how to get a wide group of stakeholders involved and how to harness data across the city environment.

We looked at how to start, by capturing the current state of the city, mapping it out visually to ensure there is a mental model and plan for action before moving on to the evaluation of the digital twin offerings to answer a key question: Is the proliferation of solutions solving problems or creating more data silos?

The panel discussed digital amalgamation and whether a system of systems is the solution… or inevitable outcome, as well as how we may overcome misconceptions hindering consolidation of data repositories and general aspects of siloisation.

What IoT applications are the most useful today and what will yield useful in the future?

For the City of Hobart, parking is a great example of digital twins in action - both from a payment perspective and in terms of watching a city empty and fill. Useful to look at sustainable traffic modes.

The panel noted that while information is measured in isolation it is vital that it be looked at collectively to speed up associations - for example looking at light outages and weather patterns in conjunction. Movement of place was also discussed, looking at combining disparate data sources and using it to visualise not only the current city environment but future growth and changes.

So, how do we get stakeholders to collaborate and go on the journey together?

The panel shared how they’re working to shift perspectives using the common use of data to pull people together, encouraging a top-down approach to outline the organisation's target state and lead buy-in.

To find out what else it will take to have a successful digital twin journey, and where the bottlenecks lie, keep an eye out as we unpack city-scale digital twins in the coming weeks.

A recording of this session will be made available on the Smart Cities Academy website on November 1 2021. Subscribers to the DT Hub will be notified when available.

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