Defining Smart City Digital Twins

Two of those cities, Columbus and Warner Robins, Georgia, received the awards for projects that involve digital twins. But what, exactly, is a digital twin? And how can the technology be used to solve community problems?

We talked with John Taylor, the Frederick Law Olmsted Professor and associate chair for graduate programs and research innovation in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Neda Mohammadi, city infrastructure analytics director in Georgia Tech’s Network Dynamics Lab to get some answers. These are edited highlights from an interview.

Q: What is a digital twin?

Taylor: A digital twin is an intelligent, adaptive system that pairs virtual and physical worlds. In community development work, a Smart City Digital Twin (SCDT), like those used in Warner Robins and Columbus, pairs a real city to its digital counterpart to generate data-driven feedback loops of interactions between cities’ three main components: (1) human systems, which includes government, industry, and residents; (2) infrastructure systems, which are physical systems and the services they provide; and (3) technology systems, such as devices, sensors, and data analytics infrastructure.

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Victoria Krisman
Victoria Krisman is Interactive Media Specialist and Communications Manager for the Intelligent Community Forum.
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