By collaborating in the cloud and creating “virtual twins”, cities will be able to visualize the effect of their choices in advance.
Over the past five years, some cities around the world have developed true "virtual twins" of their infrastructures and processes. A way to create a digital doppelganger to use as a test platform. How can this kind of 'virtual' twin technology help cities respond to emergencies? Just one comes to mind these days.
The virtual twin of a city
Virtual twins are very advanced computer models, which take into account thousands of parameters. From traffic to pollution, from population to city resources, the virtual twin of a city is not a simple collection of data, but a true representation of the physical world. On the virtual twin of a city you can run scenarios, and anticipate what will happen as a result of a decision.
The pandemic has accelerated many technological and scientific solutions. Among the needs, that of implementing faster and 'intelligent' decision-making processes, i.e. based on real information, to organize both the present and the complex post-pandemic future.
I've talked about it many times. The efforts are many and in many directions, especially in terms of health, city planning and viability. It is clear that in this acute phase of the emergency it is necessary to counteract the many and widespread consequences. In the emergency phase, the priority is not to resolve the root cause of the crisis, but to address its consequences. Whole companies have had to convert to smartworking, or have to face shop closures and management of public services.
Cities are using advanced collaboration software, such as the 3DEXPERIENCE platform developed by the French Dassault Systèmes, to support complex decisions, coordinate operations and keep vital services running.
In France, for example, the city of Rennes is a case to mention on the results of cloud collaboration. The “Virtual Rennes” is a meeting and consultation ground between the networks of organizations “in the flesh”, which can follow and compare their projects, from the economy to the environment passing through the needs of citizens.
"Technology doesn't solve problems," he says Guido Porro, Managing Director EUROMED, Dassault Systèmes. “People do. Improving disaster response and building resilience means helping different groups of people to work together, and that's what our platform does. "
The virtual twin of a city can be used for projects in various areas of expertise. The provision of mobility services, waste management or the optimization of urban development, the planning and development of a new hospital, or a new transport hub. In any case, the platform facilitates the coordination and common understanding of the activities managed by multiple sectors and stakeholders of the city.
Guido Porro, Managing Director EUROMED, Dassault Systèmes
A necessity regardless of the pandemic
As mentioned, in the global tragedy the pandemic has produced and will produce long-term changes. Positive too. Among these, the digital organization of municipalities. Everything, from the way in which catering is managed in schools to the rules applied to protect citizens and employees on public transport, must be organized and will probably be redesigned. For this reason, the idea of having a "virtual twin" is crucial to face the situation.
Architects and urban planners they will have to include elements of epidemiology and demographic science in urban design. New types of projects will emerge. Neighborhoods that will focus on air quality, to provide more resilience to the city community. In some cases, neighborhoods or complexes will arise with the declared purpose of support biodiversity. A virtual twin can help shape and coordinate hitherto apparently unrelated elements. The flow of air around a building's ventilation system. The pollution in that area, the impact of obstruction materials on the environment.
On the virtual twin of a city it will be possible to draw the embryo of a city that will no longer be a sum of houses and streets, but almost a living organism.
Eyes and ears everywhere. Also on social networks
As I said, the "virtual twins" of cities are digital, yes, but they are based on real data. And also on real people, if you look closely: it is the political representatives of a city who can use it. They are associations and stakeholders, which can be added to the platform. And it is the citizens themselves, who interact with each other and with the institutions every day. The new cloud coordination and collaboration platforms also support this “granular” communication, giving the organizations involved the possibility to follow trends, manage projects, share and discuss ideas and create dashboards to monitor their communication campaigns. Dassault's platform, in particular, allows you to create powerful visual representations and models that also summarize key messages and developments for citizens. In other words, from the design of solutions to the dialogue with the community, everything can be connected.
And in the future?
Over the next few years, cities will develop and use new practices to plan their operation. Utilities providers and other essential organizations will need to refine decision-making models that enable them to cope with even sudden emergencies. It will be crucial to adapt and keep efficiency intact even in complex contexts.
And in these cases, having a "twin" who helps you is always handy.
Gianluca Riccio, born in 1975, is the creative director of an advertising agency, copywriter and journalist. He is affiliated with Italian Institute for the Future, World Future Society and H +, Network of Italian Transhumanists. Since 2006 he directs Futuroprossimo.it, the Italian resource of Futurology.
Futuroprossimo.it is an Italian resource of futurology opened since 2006: every day news about the near future. Scientific discoveries, medical research, prototypes, concepts and predictions about the future for free.
Gianluca Riccio, copywriter and journalist - Born in 1975, he is the creative director of an advertising agency, he is affiliated with the Italian Institute for the Future, World Future Society and H +, Network of Italian Transhumanists.