Arup was commissioned by the city of Regensburg to investigate digital urban twins in German municipalities.

We analysed completed and advanced case studies and use cases from seven cities that have a digital platform and, in most cases, a virtual 3D city model. The study is intended to support the city of Regensburg in the content and technical design of use cases for its own digital urban twin .

The study shows that the path to the digital city is different for every municipality. "There is no one-size-fits-all solution," explains Dr. Aurel von Richthofen, Team Leader Cities at Arup. "Municipalities need to develop specific strategies that correspond to their individual framework conditions and potential." The development of a digital twin is therefore often embedded in a long-term digitalisation process and intensive internal administrative communication.

Digital twins help to design sustainable cities

In a first step, Arup identified the status quo of the digital twins of the cities of Braunschweig, Herrenberg, Kempten, Krefeld, Stuttgart, Sulzbach and the district of Hof. The urban twins were then described comparatively on the basis of profiles and classified using a KPI matrix on the technical form of implementation, the personnel organisational structure and the financial framework conditions. Finally, the compatibility of the urban twins in terms of applications and open source solutions were demonstrated.

All seven urban twins had undergone a strategy process to identify suitable applications for sustainable urban development. Various aspects such as mobility, climate, energy supply, planning, culture and tourism were examined. Interesting application scenarios included the intelligent control of motorised individual transport to relieve inner cities, the determination of climate-relevant requirements for watering trees with the help of sensor technology, and intelligent parking space management. Many other applications can be supplemented by open source platform solutions and transferred to other cities.

Digital urban twins versus 3D city models

The study shows that interviewees make a clear difference between digital urban twins and 3D city models and digital images. A digital twin not only serves to display information, but also enables simulations and analyses. Digital twins are dynamic. They can incorporate new data in order to remain up-to-date.

Digitalisation as the key to the challenges of the future

The urban development plan "Regensburg-Plan 2040" sees digitalisation as an essential requirement for overcoming current and future challenges in the urban environment. With the adoption of the Smart City Strategy, the city has created a basis for new innovative urban development projects. "This study is now intended to help prepare the way for a future digital twin for Regensburg," explains Emir Skulić, Urban Development Planner for the City of Regensburg.

The study is available online in German

The study was funded as part of the REACT-EU initiative. It can be downloaded free of charge: „Digitaler Innenstadt-Zwilling: Unterstützung bei der inhaltlichen und technischen Konzeption von Anwendungsfällen für ein digitales, raumbezogenes Abbild der Regensburger Innenstadt“.