Urban Digital Twins: Dream or Reality?

It’s 2021 and innovation is all around us: drones, small satellites, internet of things, autonomous connected vehicles, much-awaited (and often mind-blowing) applications of artificial intelligence, data analytics and machine learning. As a geospatial community of practice, we are privileged to be in the midst of such exciting times where location is at the core of data integration of so many innovative concepts and technologies.


A timely example of such power of integration is the concept of urban digital twins. They bubble up as one of OGC’s 12 innovation technology trends to watch and they also appear near the peak of the Gartner Hype Cycle. Why? Digital twins at an urban scale promise to transform how cities are planned, built, and managed to better deliver services to citizens. They involve connecting technologies from BIM, 3D modeling, GIS, data science, modeling and simulation, cloud computing and edge computing to name a few. Urban digital twins - using the fundamental framework of space and time - will become the tools and methods for high density human settlements to be more livable, inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable – helping with challenges like escalating population, energy consumption, connected and autonomous transport, support for resident information sharing, etc. This innovation talk highlights some of the work in the OGC community on urban digital twins – setting the stage for a NSGIC community exchange on making urban digital twins a reality!

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