ABI Research: Digital Twins for Urban Planning to Yield $280B in Cost Savings By 2030

July 29, 2021

The deployment and use of digital twins in urban contexts are gaining momentum. Cities are increasingly discovering its benefits for both the planning and operational management of their assets. According to a new report by ABI Research, cities are expected to achieve cost savings of US$280 billion by 2030 by using digital twins for more efficient urban planning.

“Digital twins will become the ultimate tool for city governments to design, plan and manage their connected infrastructure and assets in an efficient and cost-effective way. Cost savings can be obtained in key areas, such as energy and utilities, transportation, safety and security, and infrastructure (roads/buildings). However, urban digital twins also offer many other advantages in terms of supporting and improving sustainability, circularity, decarbonization, and the overall quality of urban living,” says Dominique Bonte, Vice President End Markets at ABI Research.

Efficiencies can be achieved across a wide range of asset categories and use cases:

First time right designs of buildings and other physical infrastructure avoiding expensive modifications after completion

Energy-efficient building designs maximizing solar capacity yielding lifetime long energy savings

Resilient and safe infrastructure designs reducing policing and emergency response costs

Optimized designs of utilities, streetlight, and surveillance networks to achieve the same coverage target with less capex

Design of covid-19 proof buildings resulting in healthcare savings

Digital twins enabling efficient eGovernment in terms of the seamless exchange of data with citizens for mediation purposes.

Leading suppliers offering urban digital twin planning solution suites include Engie-owned Siradel (telco, surveillance, streetlights, mobility), Dassault Systèmes (generative building design, energy, airflow, green infrastructure), Siemens (buildings, electric digital twin), ANSYS (lighting, Covid-19), IES (energy-efficient campuses), Bentley Systems (ports, water distribution), Microsoft, AutoDesk, PTV (transportation), and CityZenith (districts). Some vendors specialize in specific capabilities such as physics modeling and simulation of light, heat, airflow, noise, radio wave propagation (ANSYS, Siradel), generative design (Dassault Systèmes), and dynamic modeling of vehicle and pedestrian traffic (PTV). Underlying all solutions is their capability for virtual prototyping and scenario analysis.

“While the cost-saving advantages of digital twins allow cities to achieve fast ROIs, the increasingly complex nature of connected and smart urban infrastructure, especially in view of future smart urban concepts, will simply mandate the deployment of digital twins as critical, holistic management tools, similar to the role they play in other industries like manufacturing,” Bonte concludes.

Cityzenith founder and CEO Michael Jansen commented, "As an architect by trade, I know how inefficient and over budget the built environment has been over the last 30 years or more, often causing delays in completion and inefficient use of materials due to the industry's lack of data and technology.

It's a huge global problem as we seek a more efficient and sustainable model for our urban planning, and construction must catch up with the pace of emissions reduction in other industries such as manufacturing.

During the next 12 months, we will partner with at least ten international cities, to integrate our SmartWorldOS Digital Twin platform. We have also signed a major international contract to use SmartWorldOS to manage carbon emissions in other cities as part of the Race to Zero and movement towards a more sustainable and cost-effective energy transition."

Don McLean, IES Founder & CEO added, "At IES we believe Digital Twins are a key enabler to the global net-zero transition, making it possible to use a virtual model to accurately measure, monitor and predict how different net-zero strategies work together in the real world. We have been continually developing our technology for over 27 years and it has been used to design over 1 million buildings across the globe, helping prevent the need for over 36 power stations to be built (and counting).

Our latest Digital Twin technology suite – the Intelligent Communities Lifecycle (ICL) – has been designed to facilitate decarbonisation across the entire lifecycle of the built environment. With dedicated tools covering the key areas of masterplanning, urban design, new build, retrofit, building operation and community energy networks, the ICL presents a comprehensive suite of tools to support citizens, companies, campuses, communities, cities and even whole countries. Using a unique combination of physics-based simulation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, the ICL makes it possible to create a digital twin (a 1:1 virtual replica) of any community/group of buildings to simulate their lifecycle and plan the right solutions now and into the future. Delivering the data-driven information needed to uncover significant energy, carbon, capital and operational savings, with consideration to resource use, transport, and socioeconomic factors.

It's an exciting time for Digital Twin technology in the built environment context, it’s great to see momentum continuing to grow. We have already worked with many governments, cities, campuses and other communities across the globe to help them in the quest to net-zero and we look forward to working with many more."

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