Key insights from the workshop on 'Digital Twins'

2020-04-07 11:10:44

What is a 'Digital Twin'?

A digital twin is a virtual, 3D representation of a certain area. It gives you the possibility to visualize past and future scenarios in for example certain areas of a city. This can support policymakers and project leaders in complex planning and decision making. Last February, the municipality of Amersfoort organized an internal workshop concerning the possibilities a digital twin for the city of Amersfoort. About 30 colleagues from different disciplines of the municipality of Amersfoort attended the workshop. During the workshop the province of Utrecht presented their view on the concept of digital twins.

A digital twin can provide insight into the impact of a measure on various factors and locations in the city. The municipality of Amersfoort is exploring the options of setting up a pilot digital twin, to experiment with climate adaptive measures, and think about the wider applications in the future.
With this pilot, the effects of changes in the environment and public space can be calculated quickly and 
be displayed. Different (real-time) data are required, depending on the effect that is being measured. In the case of traffic, you would need data about wind, noise, heat, precipitation and/or air quality. This data is retrieved from various sensors that are installed in the city and will be supplemented with simulations based on models.

Key insights

The biggest aim of the workshop was to make an inventory of the possibilities. They are:

  • These environmental values ​​are expressed in measurable or objectively qualitative terms, such as desired state, quality or permissible concentration of substances.

  • When developing a digital twin, the municipality can establish environmental values ​​as qualitative policy objectives and apply them to spatial development and thus apply area-specific customization.

  • With a digital twin it is possible to make joint and integral assessments of different tasks, ambitions and plans. Calculating different scenarios provides insight into the future effects of measures. It also shows which ambitions are achievable and ensures better substantiated choices.

  • From the Environmental Vision it is seen as an opportunity that area-specific standards / quality requirements are possible.

  • Connections can be made between the digital twin on the one hand and other municipal instruments such as the Green Card and the Ambitieweb Sustainable GWW on the other.

  • A Digital twin can be used for area development

  •  A Digital twin is seen as a means for consideration, evaluation and participation. The visual representation helps with conversations with stakeholders, both internal and external. It is visible to everyone involved what is going on, you are talking about the same thing.

possible application area

For the area of the Station in Amersfoort such a digital 3D model could be used to make calculations on the basis of different data sources of different indicators such as heat stress, water storage, traffic flow and air quality; moreover, we want to be able to calculate this not only for the current situation, but also for hypothetical scenarios. By developing a digital 3D model, we can get a faster and better view of the effects of proposed changes, such as: what happens to the air quality if we plant a row of trees in scenario 1 in the middle of the square? Or: if we install a large building on this street in scenario 2, how will the perceived heat stress change?

To summarize the above, there are roughly two possible applications for these digital 3D models for the city of Amersfoort:
1. Internally in area developments involving different departments, in order to be able to look at issues from the start;
2. External in area developments, to involve the external stakeholders better, and to show how certain measures would have an direct impact on making an area more climate resilient.