Helping to design a better city infrastructure

The term ‘digital twin’ is used to describe a virtual model of something physical (the city of Cambridge in our case), supplemented with data collected from sensors and systems in the surrounding environment.

Visualising data means that digital twins have the potential to help cities develop more holistic policies covering multiple departments such as energy, traffic and waste management. Collaborating in this way offers a greater flexibility to assist in addressing some of the very real challenges urban areas face such as congestion, pollution and the need to become more sustainable.

Connecting Cambridgeshire’s Smart team worked with the Centre for Digital Built Britain and the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction, both based at the University of Cambridge, as they explored the future of commuting into Cambridge, including how congestion can be reduced and air quality improved. Read more about the project.

The collaboration looked at how digital technology and data can be used to support traffic management planning decisions to make improvements and developed a conceptual digital twin prototype – combining traditional urban modelling techniques, new data sources and advanced data analytics. The prototype included journey-to-work trends in Cambridge – how people of different ages and employment statuses travel to work, and how different factors affected their travel. It also explored possible future journeys-to-work based on transport investment and new housing developments, as well as how flexible working and emerging technology may impact commuting.

As part of the collaboration, the project team conducted interviews with a number of stakeholder groups covering a wide range of topics, including under what circumstances they felt a digital twin would be a useful tool, and their feelings on the collection and use of data to support a digital twin. Read about our findings in the Stakeholder Engagement Report.

A virtual digital twin image of data floating in space