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Utilising Digital Twin for Sustainability in Las Vegas

Digital twins, which effectively create a workable computer model of a city at a point in time, are becoming popular tools for smart cities to study the impacts of development, climate change or other future events. The data-rich environments allow planners to observe the effects of changes in everything from temperature and emissions to traffic. To address its sustainability goals, Las Vegas announced plans to deploy digital twins to help the city model future energy use, emissions, mobility and emergency management.

The host city revealed a digital twin of a seven square kilometre stretch of downtown. Under a partnership between digital twin platform providers, which has developed an internet-of-things data monetisation platform, the project is expected to help officials visualise street-level data collected through the Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and Las Vegas’ 5G network to inform sustainability decisions.

City officials are currently focusing on projects that will allow the city to review and experiment with the viability and validity of the technology. The tool could be used to model scenarios addressing sustainability, emergency management and mobility and will provide a more sophisticated look at how problems develop and could be addressed.

– Michael Sherwood, Las Vegas Chief Innovation Officer

To help reduce Las Vegas’ overall energy footprint, city planners will use the SmartWorldOS platform to simulate and optimise large-scale building projects using automated real-time energy monitoring and geo-tagged smart data layers. Initially, they are focusing on integrating these key technologies into this seven square kilometres area we have.

The company has already piloted its “Clean Cities – Clean Future” initiative in downtown Phoenix and the Navy Yard industrial park in Brooklyn. The programme is working with cities to help them to cut carbon emissions from commercial buildings, often the biggest culprits in terms of total emissions, accounting for 50-70% in larger metropolitan areas.

The Las Vegas digital twin is only in the very early stages of development, but the project will collect information on issues related to air quality, emissions, mobility, noise pollution and traffic. This will be wired into the actual city. That means that things happening on the streets, in the electrical grid, air quality and many other factors will be loaded into the digital twin. Eventually, this will allow control by the city itself.

For example, officials in the traffic department will be able to control the timing of streetlights in real-time. The digital twin of Las Vegas will also be driven by data coming from vehicles, electrical utilities, charging networks and municipal infrastructure and autonomous vehicles. Bringing together IoT, 5G and Artificial Intelligence (AI), the project intends to leverage the same core technologies in other cities throughout the U.S. and eventually, the world.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, U.S. cities can expect to save $280 billion by 2030 with the deployment and use of digital twins, according to a new report. A digital twin is a simulated model of a physical process, product or service that can increase efficiency.

A digital twin uses the best available models, sensor information, and input data to mirror and predict activities/performance over the life of its corresponding physical twin. According to research, this technology is the ultimate tool for urban planners and city governments to design and cost-effectively build their infrastructure.

While the cost-saving advantages of digital twins allow cities to achieve fast Return on investment (ROI), 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.

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