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The digital twin technology is being used in urban planning for addressing issues like energy use, emissions, noise, traffic management, and parking. Cities like Los Angeles, Boston, Galveston, Texas already have digital twin models or are planning to do so.
Recently, Las Vegas completed the first phase of a digital twin of its downtown to make the city smarter and more efficient. The project is developed by the joint efforts of the city administration, city-based data firm Terbine, and Chicago-based digital twin platform Cityzenith.
The model is a digital twin of a seven square kilometer section of the downtown and uses street-level data collected in real-time through the Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and the city's 5G network. It can help officials set policies and priorities for addressing energy use, emissions, traffic, parking, noise, and energy management.
Digital twins or 3D replicas of cities are seen as the future of urban planning. These virtual models help planners observe the effects of changes in temperature, emissions, and traffic before putting them into the real world.
Cityzenith's partnership with Las Vegas is a part of the company's "Clean Cities - Clean Future" initiative which aims to use its SmartWorld OS platform to reduce urban emissions and improve cost efficiencies for building owners.
The program, which was conducted in downtown Phoenix and Brooklyn's Navy Yard industrial park, models emission cuts from the building sector to optimize sustainability policies. Cityzenith plans to create net-zero digital twins for Los Angeles and Phoenix and many other cities in the future.
Terbine founder and CEO David Knight hopes that the Las Vegas project would act as an example for other cities to attain sustainability and provide their citizens with a better quality of life.
The usage of digital twins is expected to benefit construction and real estate by bringing down energy consumption by about 50% and operating costs by about 35% (Source: Ernst and Young).
Las Vegas chief innovation officer, Michael Sherwood, said in a press release that the city's model is in a very early stage, but it can collect data on issues including mobility, air quality, noise, emissions, and traffic. He expects the project to help the city visualize data and share it with other organizations for better planning and training.
The project will benefit operational efficiency and generate positive outcomes in areas including education, wellbeing, public safety, mobility, economic development, and sustainability.