Digital Twins as necessary tools for cities in the future

Hervanta is a large suburb in Tampere, Finland. The city is the second-largest urban area in the country, and it has very ambitious plans that we are happy to be a part of. We created a Digital Twin of Hervanta in order to enable efficient communication and planning for the project of an innovative tramway network and a planning tool for the use of autonomous vehicles. Moreover, the Digital Twin we created will be a foundation for technological revolution of the entire city. 

Scratching the surface of data-based revolution

Initially, the Digital Twin of Hervanta we created was designed for the testing and development of an autonomous public transportation project. Based on the information gathered from different systems and data sources, we precisely recreated the whole Hervanta district with every tree and traffic sign using an advanced VR engine. The virtual area was a testing ground for autonomous vehicles and a planning tool for a network of sensors and antennas to provide the necessary connectivity. The Digital Twin became a learning tool for autonomous vehicles with the option for users to take virtual rides in them. 

The information that we started gathering and feeding the Digital Twin with was necessary for the tramway project, but the potential of the system and its database is immense. Once a system has been created, it can be used as a sandbox for multiple purposes, such as 5G network planning, various Smart City solutions, and many other types of urban development projects. Digital Twins are widely utilized in urban development for testing, planning, and making accurate estimates.

The value of Digital Twins for communication between companies, organizations, and citizens

One of the biggest bottlenecks of modern urban development is communication between stakeholders. Sometimes in public projects like the one in Hervanta, there are over 20 different agencies, contractors, and government officials involved. Additionally, in many countries including Finland, any publicly funded project must be consulted with citizens. 

The number of people and organizations involved makes it extremely difficult to communicate efficiently, which can significantly slow down progress. Advanced planning systems used by designers and engineers are unintelligible for citizens, investors, and even city officials. The chaos causes misinformation that leads to ill-advised decision-making and missed opportunities. 

Digital Twin is a platform that allows the presentation of data in a visual and easy-to-understand way, which greatly facilitates the workflow. For example, in our project for the City of Helsinki, we designed a Digital Twin mainly to create visual communication materials and to allow public consultation. Our solution is an online tool available independently to all involved parties, which is crucial for a smooth communication process.

Laying the groundwork for the future of urban development

It’s impossible to list every potential application of Digital Twins, but they are undoubtedly a prerequisite for the development of sustainable, safe, and ecologic urban areas. The future of development must be data-driven, and Digital Twins provide tools to gather, analyze, and present data in an accessible way. Their social, economic, and technological impact is already widely recognized in many Smart Cities, and we can safely assume that they’re going to become a worldwide standard in years to come. 

How is a Digital Twin shaping the technological revolution in Hervanta, Tampere?

  • Enabled testing of autonomous vehicles in virtual reality
  • Provided tools for urban development planning, testing, and estimation
  • Improved communication between citizens, officials, and independent organizations
  • Created a tool for data collection, allowing decision-makers to make more accurate predictions based on a complete set of data

We’re glad to be a part of this amazing project, and we’re excited to create new implementations and future expansions of the Digital Twin. 

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