Newcastle University based in northern English city Newcastle upon Tyne, is creating a virtual twin of the city which will allow experts to undertake resilience testing of a city in real-time. The project which creates a computer replica of the city will be able to test probabilities in crisis situations taking into considerations different variables such as Population growth and climate change.
The technology though not new, used regularly by Formula One engine manufacturers and teams like Rolls Royce will enable city planners to respond to future threats like freakish weather events, energy and drought shortages and rising sea levels in a quick and effective manner. Named ‘digital twin’ it will provide city planners a platform to test different results by making changes in variables virtually. This will reduce cost and collateral damage that ensues large projects such as city planning.
Professor Chris Kilsby of Department of Climate Change and Hydrology, while explaining the concept in layman terms remarks that if you’re a city planner and testing different models, the freedom is very restricted for testing different variations. But a virtual twin will provide unimaginable emancipation to planners as an integrated data platform undertaking dynamic factors such as population, sea level rise and traffic becomes handy. A physical replica will become the news of old days and ‘digital twin’ will be able to predict more holistically with huge amounts of data in hand.
The project which started to understand the 2012 phenomenon locally called ‘ Toon Monsoon’ which disrupted city when two months of rain fell in two hours affecting city life which caused $9 million worth of damage. The event alarmed the city planners to understand and adapt to different models in the event of similar future events. The digital twin in such an event will be able to plan in advance for probable crisis. It will provide the complete picture on which building will be closed down, which parts of the city will be flooded and which routes the city residents will take in event of crisis. So that effective rescue and rehabilitation operations could be planned preemptively.
It will be able to predict how a city will look with ageing population over a certain period of time and also possible events if the river Tyne rose by a few feet. This tool will make sure preemptive measures have been conducted to minimize and also nullify losses of lives and property in the event of natural disaster.
The data used by the algorithms is coming from University’s urban observatory project which is monitoring pollution levels, biodiversity and water quality among many factors through sensors installed all over the city. The possibilities ensuing from the project are amazing with potential for expansion to many other cities provided there is access to adequate information remarks R&D Manager at Northumbrian Water Chris Jones.