Imec: Open digital twin framework

Imec: Open digital twin framework

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A simulation tool to aid policymakers in their complex decisions to improve citizens’ life.

An “urban digital twin” provides an up-to-date view of the situation in the city so that any measures planned can be simulated and tested. Cities are faced with complex major challenges for reducing issues such as air pollution, noise nuisance and traffic overload in the city center. They need to keep urban areas attractive, livable and healthy. Action to improve the situation in a particular area may have an impact on multiple factors and/or locations elsewhere in a city. For example, when a street is made car-free, this can have a positive effect on the air quality and excessive noise levels in the immediate area, but at the same time make mobility and air quality worse in other places.

The “urban digital twin” builds a bridge between the digital and physical urban world. The tool is designed to aid policymakers in their complex decisions about livability in the city. Only by first modifying these livability factors digitally can their effects on the city be simulated and tested properly. Urban Digital Twin enables the effect of action taken on traffic, noise and air quality to be calculated and displayed quickly. Then, because data from traffic and air quality is supplied in real-time from a range of sensors in the city and because this information is supplemented by simulations based on models, policymakers have current data that enables them to take the most sensible decisions.

Other real-time data sources are also recorded in addition to the functionalities detailed above. These sources can be used in conjunction with area-specific models to provide additional policy-related operating insights. In recent years, imec has conducted research into what is known as “urban digital twins”. The resulting insights make it possible to define an open framework for these urban digital twins. This is a reference system of software components used to develop and implement an “urban digital twin”. It defines the functionalities of the different components and how they should interact.

The framework enables different parties to collaboratively implement the system according to the principles of the framework. It aligns and defines best practices and guidance withing an international context (eg. OASC MIMS). imec is working with the Flemish government and industry via open innovation to refine this framework further. As part of the process, imec plays the dual role of catalyst and accelerator within the context of an open Framework. This open way of working also helps other cities in Flanders and industry partners that would like to develop their own “urban digital twin”.

Urban digital twin : combines insights for cities


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