The city of Las Vegas is developing a “digital twin.” To help model current and future scenarios, this virtual double will comprise a seven-square-kilometer section of its downtown.
Urban “digital twins” create a workable computer model of a city at a certain point in time. They are becoming popular tool for smart cities to leverage by studying their own impacts.
This model of the city’s downtown will help officials set policies and priorities for addressing aspects such as energy usage, emissions, traffic, parking, noise, and emergency management. It is a collaboration between the city, Chicago-based digital twin platform Cityzenith, and Las Vegas-based data firm Terbine.
“Transitioning our home city into a clean, sustainable, and more attractive place to live and visit is a fantastic opportunity, and we’re delighted with our progress so far on this project,” said Terbine founder and CEO David Knight in a previous article. “What we’re building here represents a model for how other cities can enable sustainability and a better quality of life for their citizens.”
“The tool could be used to model scenarios addressing sustainability, emergency management, and mobility. It will provide a more sophisticated look at how problems develop and could be addressed,” Las Vegas Chief Innovation Officer Michael Sherwood added.
What Is A ‘Digital Twin’ And How Does It Utilize IoT?
NASA first embraced this concept, where full-scale mockups of early space capsules eventually led to digital replications. The growing accessibility of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Internet of Things (IoT) capabilities then paved a path toward creating urban “digital twins.”
A “digital twin” is built out of input from IoT sensors on actual equipment. It replicates a real-world system and changes with that system over time (not to be confused with simulations, which may not always have a one-to-one analog with an actual physical object).
The Las Vegas model uses street-level data collected in real-time through IoT sensors and the city’s 5G network. The data-rich environments allow planners to observe changes and will help the city visualize data that it can share with other organizations for planning and training.
Cityzenith unveiled a first glimpse of the ground-breaking Las Vegas “digital twin” on January 4, 2022.
What Is Its Intended Purpose?
Although the Las Vegas twin is still in its early stages, the ambitious project is now in its second phase. It is intended to collect data on issues including mobility, air quality, noise, emissions, and traffic in the hopes that Las Vegas building owners can transition to net-zero carbon emissions using Cityzenith’s SmartWorld Digital Twin technology. Future stakeholders may include (but are not limited to) real estate owners, university researchers, architects, and casino operators.
What Are Some Similar Projects?
Places that either have or are planning “digital twins” include Boston and Galveston, Texas. As severe storms loom over the Texas Gulf Coast, urban planners, emergency planners, policymakers, and citizens seek to protect Galveston and coastal areas’ infrastructures from catastrophic damage by utilizing “digital twins.” Cityzenith also intends to debut net-zero digital twins for Los Angeles and Phoenix.