Imagine the potential benefits of having a nearly complete digital replica of a city — a virtual model of its roads, buildings and public spaces — combined with real-time information feeds from sensors and other data sources. Residents could visualize the impact of new construction before breaking ground. First responders could run computer simulations to prepare for potential emergency scenarios. And city planners could better analyze and respond to local energy and environmental changes.
The advancement of several technologies, including the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), has made it possible to create “digital twins,” or virtual replicas of objects, processes or places from the physical world. The concept of creating “twins” to serve as tools to improve decision-making has long been used in engineering. For example, NASA developed two identical space vehicles for its Apollo program to mirror the conditions in space on Earth