Vegas bets on Digital Twins

Sheila Zabeu -

October 15, 2021

Las Vegas, in the United States, will use Digital Twins and IoT (Internet of Things) technologies to help the city to zero carbon emissions. In addition, the project will contribute to improving mobility conditions, air quality, and water resource management, and to reducing noise pollution in a large part of the city’s downtown area.

“Digital Twins are becoming vital to city management. This technology will give us new insights and levels of control that will benefit city planners, residents, and businesses. We are setting a benchmark for cities around the world that want to become smarter, more efficient, safer, and more sustainable,” says Michael Sherwood, Chief Technology Officer, Las Vegas.

Following the example of New York, Las Vegas is the second city to participate in the Clean Cities – Clean Future initiative of the company Cityzenith, which specialised in Digital Twins. Phoenix and other North American cities should follow suit soon. According to this initiative, cities contribute significantly to global carbon emissions. For this reason, Cityzenith decided to develop the SmartWorldOS platform that aggregates various data sources to help decision-makers make the right choices in city management.

Project partner Terbine will gather and contextualize data coming from IoT from government agencies, building management companies, transport systems, vehicle manufacturers, among other players, to fuel the Digital Twins system.

New York pilot project

In New York, Cityzenith is developing digital twins for a group of buildings, systems, and infrastructure at the Navy Yard in Brooklyn. The project will include a one million square foot building and warehouse that was recently redeveloped for commercial use.

The SmartWorldOS platform will be used to develop and manage complex construction projects and give urban planners access to over one billion geo-mapped smart data layers and annotation and visualization tools for application in analysis and reporting.

The aim of the project is to reduce the environmental impact of energy sources. Such reduction will be achieved through retrofits in pursuit of green buildings. According to Michael Jansen, founder, and CEO of Cityzenith, investing 10 cents in retrofits will yield $3 to $5 in savings, with dividends expected to come in up to five years.

“Today, many building owners turn to retrofit services that require expensive labor and are not risk-free. The Digital Twins project at the Brooklyn Navy Yard seeks to automate these services with a single solution that is easy to use, comprehensive, accurate, and cost-effective,” explains Jansen.

According to the executive, Digital Twins’ technology capabilities aggregate, present, and analyze spatial (3D) and temporal data and correlate efficiencies across multiple systems, providing an optimized building engineering solution that makes financial sense. “This is what the market has needed for a long time – an eco-friendly building calculator that any property can easily use,” he concludes.

Worldwide trend

The use of Digital Twins in the context of urban management is gaining momentum globally. According to a report by ABI Research, cities are expected to achieve cost savings of $280 billion by 2030 by using this technology in urban planning.

“Cost savings can be achieved in areas such as utilities, energy, transport, safety and security, and infrastructure, including roads and buildings. However, Digital Twins for cities also offer other advantages in terms of sustainability, circularity, decarbonization, and the quality of urban life,” highlights Dominique Bonte, vice president of markets at ABI Research.

Understanding technology

Digital Twin is nothing more than a digital copy of products, processes, or equipment, designed to behave in the same way as its real counterpart.

Manufacturing companies have increasingly used technology to accelerate digital transformation initiatives and product development. The idea has been around since 2002 when it was coined by Michael Grieves, then a professor at the University of Detroit, to describe a new way of thinking about coordinating product lifecycle management. The concept stumbled for many years due to the limits around integrating processes and data across engineering, manufacturing, and quality teams. But it has started to gain traction, thanks to improvements in data integration, AI, and IoT, which extend the benefits of digital transformation efforts into the physical world.

Among the benefits of the new technology are cost and production time reduction; prediction and correction of equipment and product failures; improved professional training; efficiency in the company’s internal processes; impact on productivity and results; as well as the ability to avoid accidents and mitigate their consequences, improving equipment safety.

They can transform an outdated workplace into a dynamic, modern, and seamless environment by bringing together information and data from many different sources and producing a contextual model, which can be used to optimize conditions and enable employees to interact with their spaces.

For all these reasons, the Digital Twins play a fundamental role in improving the operations of companies from different sectors and, increasingly, of public administrations, as they allow them to test different scenarios, several times, until optimal performance is achieved for both current and future circumstances.

From wind farms to modernizing agriculture, testing smartphones, and improving public services, there is really no limit to the use of digital twins.

Not coincidentally, Accenture has positioned digital twins as one of the top five strategic technology trends to watch in 2021.