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Digital Twins for Cities: A State of the Art Review

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Journal Article

Ketzler, Bernd, Vasilis Naserentin, Fabio Latino, Christopher Zangelidis, Liane Thuvander, and Anders Logg. 2020. “Digital Twins for Cities: A State of the Art Review.” Built Environment 46 (4): 547–73.

During the last decades, a variety of digital tools have been developed to support both the planning and management of cities, as well as the inclusion of civic society. Here, the concept of a Digital Twin – which is rapidly emerging throughout many disciplines due to advances
in technology, computational capacities and availability of large amounts of data – plays an important role. In short, a digital twin is a living virtual model, a connected digital representation of a physical system and has been a central concept in the manufacturing industry for the
past decades. In this article, we review the terminology of digital twins for cities and identify commonalities and relations to the more established term 3D city models. Our findings indicate an increasing use of the term digital twin in academic literature, both in general and in the context
of cities and the built environment. We find that while there is as yet no consensus on the exact definition of what constitutes a digital twin, it is increasingly being used to describe something that is more than a 3D city model (including, e.g. semantic data, real-time sensor data, physical
models, and simulations). At the same time, the term has not yet replaced the term 3D city model as the most dominant term in the 3D GIS domain. By looking at grey literature we discuss how digital twins for cities are implemented in practice and present examples of digital twins in a global
perspective. Further, we discuss some of the application areas and potential challenges for future development and implementation of digital twins for cities. We conclude that there are significant opportunities for up-scaling digital twins, with the potential to bring benefits to the city
and its citizens and clients.

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