During this year’s Smart City Live 2020, Bentley Systems and Microsoft delved into how the Internet of Things (IoT), Digital Twins and Data Platforms are enabling cities to deliver against environmental and social sustainability challenges in a session titled ‘Cities Reboot on Data Driven Solutions for the new Sustainable & Inclusive Cities.’
After the leadership conversation, we had a chance to chat with Richard Vestner, Senior Director of Digital Solutions, Digital Cities and Pascal Martinez, Director of Business Development, Digital Cities, both from Bentley Systems to find out a bit more about the role digital twins play in cities, the company’s OpenCities digital twin platform, the recently announced Bentley iTwin Ventures, and how these digital replicas can contribute to environmental and social sustainability.
During the interview, Martinez, who joined Bentley Systems in in 2015 as part of an acquisition and is responsible for the development of the company’s reality modeling software ContextCapture, said that digital twins are currently becoming indispensable to cities. “Cities need digital twins because they are facing new challenges. Around seventy per cent of the population will be living in cities by 2050 and this requires cities to make quick decisions, which will require a close cooperation and a collaboration with different stakeholders: public and private. This is where we see that cities will need digital twins to help them access the adequate data that they can then use to visualize the conditions of the city.”
When asked what the key benefits of the OpenCities digital twin platform were, Pascal Martinez informed that “a key component of OpenCities and the platform around OpenCities is to engage citizens in the decision making process because that’s key for the adoption of the solution and reduce the disruptions as much as possible.”
Richard Vestner, whose global role covers building and scaling Digital Twin applications in an urban context, believes that there is an interest in the adoption of infrastructure digital twins by both the public and private actors in the water sector. “The pandemic has shown how sensitive societies are towards the continuous 24/7 operation of urban infrastructure and cities and utilities that have been advancing digitally before the pandemic were better able to respond to remote working, making data available to their staff, or, for example, monitor water distribution from remote. A digital twin offers these great possibilities to clients.”
Furthermore, Vestner when asked how cities can use digital twins to improve resilience to extreme hydrometeorological events, said: “Resilience is an important topic now under the changes we are seeing with climate change. Maintaining continuity, security and safety despite chronic stresses and despite the pandemic is what we would call resilience and that is a goal. We are stepping into a new era of extremes. Climate change has imposed heavy rainfalls, flooding, rising sea water levels on cities and this is exactly the field where digital technology models and digital twins are predestined to help.”