Predicting and foreseeing future events

Although the 21st century is predominantly marked by technological progress, social and economic development, it is also an era of unprecedented global challenges. Global issues, such as overpopulation, climate change and cyber-attacks, give rise to constant duress within urban areas.

Igor van Gemert, Founder and CEO of SIM-CI: If you are living in a city, you experience several levels of danger. We are living in a time of climate change, more and more smart grids, complex problems when it comes to distributing energy. More and more cities are turning into mega cities, leaving critical infrastructures under stress, and we are living in a time frame when cyber-attacks are more or less mainstream.

As cities continue to increase in size and their older infrastructures are often under considerable strain, finding innovative ways to cope with these global challenges are crucial. The ‘Digital Twin City’, a virtual replicate of a city and its networks, is a ground-breaking concept that can help us predict and foresee future events and scenarios. Visualizations of urban processes such as transportation and population growth, enable city planners to make well-informed decisions when managing their cities.

Bridge between the physical and digital realm

Digital twins can be seen as a “bridge between the physical and digital world”. We gain access to new ideas and insights by turning data about a physical object into a model, and turning this model into a visual representation of the object. Imagine creating a virtual copy of a heavily congested traffic area or underground water structures. By mapping out all the relevant data points, we can see exactly where mobility issues arise and which improvements need to be made to resolve or, even better, avoid these issues.

If this concept is applied to an entire city or region, rather than just one static physical object, the benefits are even greater. Creating a digital copy of a city allows us to accurately mimic its vital infrastructures. Think of the transportation, gas, energy and communication networks.

The ‘Digital Twin City’ is a ground-breaking concept that can help us predict and foresee future events and scenarios.

Preparing for high-risk situations

SIM-CI can run a number of scenarios and simulations by using the virtual copy. When hosting a city-wide event or dealing with extreme weather situations, predictive risk analysis and maintenance could be life-saving. Visualizing which areas could get overcrowded, which networks could fail in case of a cyber-attack, or which buildings would be in danger in case of flooding, enables one to prepare for high-risk situations.

Preventing vulnerabilities from emerging has a myriad of social, economic and environmental benefits. Digital twins do not just help mitigate existing risks or hazards. We can also use this technology when designing new cities or urban areas that will be built in the future. By implementing this technology in our city planning and keeping durability in the back of our minds at all times, we are able to build societies that are resilient by design.

 

My vision in the next two years, is that we will be able to apply the Digital Twin City technology to any city in the world: basically, giving rise to the next evolution in city planning

Igor van Gemert, Founder and CEO of SIM-CI

The rapidly decreasing cost of Digital Twin technology is quickly making the high-tech solution more accessible, even though it might seem like a futuristic idea at first. SIM-CI has already implemented the Digital Twin City concept in several of its services. At the moment, SIM-CI is applying the technology to urban and metropolitan areas in the Netherlands.

Financial, environmental and social benefits

SIM-CI’s models can incorporate a wide array of data sources, which in turn allows for different scenarios to be run. Using our Digital Twin city technology, we are able to determine when a city’s gas and electricity networks will need maintenance, replacements or repairs. This allows for a sharp decrease in maintenance costs. SIM-CI is also able to evaluate the current and future capabilities of mobility and telecom networks. As disruptions in people’s day-to-day lives or in the wider economy can have huge consequences, being able to prevent these disruptions is absolutely key. The self-evident financial benefits are not the only advantages of Digital Twin cities: sustainability, durability and ecological interests also play an important role in what this technology has to offer.

Modelling for resilience

The models that are incorporated into our Digital Twin Cities platform include network models, interdependency models and deterioration models. These allow use to create, validate and assess mitigation & contingency scenarios. In turn, these scenarios provide us with in-depth insight into gas-, water-, and electricity networks, as well as ageing infrastructures. Interdependency models illustrate how various networks affect each other, and how the outage of one network can result in cascading effects on others. Whereas deterioration models focus on the way infrastructure networks age and deteriorate throughout the years.

Examples of our scenarios include flooding simulations, insight into the communication grid, and insight into the deterioration of various networks. With our data and visualizations, we are able to assess when an interdependency could occur and what the consequences of this would be.

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