Updated: Jan 4
Attempts to define standards for constructing a digital twin have been made previously. However, there is still a substantial gap in both literature and practice as regards unified models and interactions of data fusions for the physical and virtual data exchange. This is especially the case with new domains (e.g. smart city) where the digital twin paradigm has started to take hold only recently.
In a bid to close this gap, DUET started working with international initiatives that pilot digital twin technologies to improve urban policy making. Specifically, the cooperation involves six cities from the CRUNCH project (Eindhoven, Southend-On-Sea, Taipei, Uppsala, Gdansk, Miami) and KnowKnow, a UK-based digital innovation SME.
The first group call took place on 9 December 2020 and was mostly an introductory meeting during which participants had a chance to present their projects, discuss existing frameworks (e.g. CDBB’s Gemini Principles) and define an action plan for future collaboration.
For DUET, this was an opportunity to share its vision for digital urban city twins and explain the role of a data broker in its realisation. Acting as a container for models, data and simulations, the data broker framework facilitates the flow of information from diverse static, historic, open, and real-time data sources, and translates it into easily digestible output and insights for smart city decision-makers.
DUET’s T-cell architecture acts as a central broker onto which different data sources, models, visualisations, interaction clients and other components connect
In order for DUET to offer useful insights to city planners and other users, it must handle non-interoperable data and then map it to a uniform format or ontology. The system is configured to normalise all incoming data onto a common data model. This data model is aligned with common standards and can be extended by the administrator to support more data formats. Mapping data to a unified model makes it easier to assess the compatibility of datasets and to integrate them into a working solution.
The main idea behind the DUET’s framework is to make it easy for any city no matter its size to benefit from opportunities provided by the digital transformation. As cities begin to realise the full potential of urban data and latest technologies, local stakeholders can engage in a meaningful discussion to explore and co-create effective policy interventions in the key Horizon 2020 target areas of transportation, environment and health. In this respect, digital twins act as a conversation starter, an enabler of two-way policy dialogue that brings citizens closer to smart cities. While the idea of using digital twins in smart city policy co-creation is rather new, we don’t necessarily see it as an emerging technology. For us, digital twins is a concept that pulls together several existing mature technologies that became fashionable in the last decade or so, such as AI, Internet of Things (IoT), and big data.