During a recent interview, Phil Christensen, Vice President – Digital Cities, Reality + Spatial Modeling at engineering software provider Bentley Systems, said cities can use modern technology to enhance outcomes.
Christensen says that the past 10 years have witnessed a divergence in urban development.
In the developed world, places like Brooklyn in the US and Sydney and Melbourne in Australia have seen young people relocate to city centres, lessened dependence on private vehicle ownership and greater activity surrounding CBDs.
In developing countries, cities like Jakarta, Lagos and Mumbai are growing quickly – a trend that causes problems for infrastructure.
Christensen sees challenges ahead.
Amid a shifting climate, cities need to lessen emissions and adapt their built environment to enhance resilience to climate impacts. He holds out hope for initiatives like the 100 Resilient Cities program.
He also sees a need to balance needs for technology and security, against needs for privacy and civil liberties. The requirement to encourage economic growth and promote investment must be balanced with the call to supply green space and ensure quality of life.
Christensen says technology can encourage citizen engagement; providing opportunities in the arenas of strategic planning, technical planning, community consultation and municipal operations.
A city-scale digital twin could be the answer, as it blends layers of data from geospatial sources, reality sources, BIM representations of planned projects, IoT and historical information on rental and operational data to deliver a city-scale digital model of the whole city.
During strategic planning, this model can be used as a part of funding pitches and investment from state or federal governments or to collaborate with developers on differing pieces of land.
For technical planning on single projects, the city digital twin can unite contextual data like the site of utilities, terrain modelling and flooding info into a solitary source. This supplies an intuitive and easily comprehended context around the site which can be used to make design decisions, better comprehend project opportunities and risk and to share this info to external stakeholders like investors or lenders.
Regarding citizen engagement, Christensen states that a city-wide digital twin can facilitate greater openness and transparency. No more artistic renderings—this is the real deal.
Technology is helping cities run better, with professionals like transport and utility operators using information from a common digital twin to make operational choices. Connected sensors, the Internet of Things and cloud processing can create automated, real-time data which can be utilised for applications like street lighting and to decide levels of air and water quality. In Amsterdam, Bentley is collaborating with the government on a project that involves sensors attached to a fleet of mobile vehicles used for parking management. The same info will create the basis for a digital model of the metropolitan streetscape.
Christensen said that Bentley’s offerings helped cities themselves, asset owners like public utilities or private developers and design and construction pros like engineers, architects and others.
For cities, Bentley’s OpenCities Planner can facilitate strategic planning and community consultation.
For asset owners, the iTwin platform explains the condition of standing assets.
For engineers, the iTwin platform enables collaboration in design review and improved design insights when assets are renewed, renovated and operated. Automatic data processing can empower greater comprehension of future asset performance.
As employees go back to city centres, applications like Bentley’s LEGION passenger simulation software are being applied in a COVID safe manner while avoiding excess crowding at stations. And Bentley’s iTwin cloud platform is, says Christensen, uniting organisations—and cities.