Montage: Illustration of the concept of Digital Twins and a 3d-visual of Lindholmen
​A model of the concept of digital twins, and Virtual Citys@Chalmers 3D-visualisation of Lindholmen, Gothenburg.

Investment in Digital Twins will revolutionise urban development

​With today’s technology that enables the creation of digital twins, a car or airplane can be modeled, simulated and optimized before it leaves the drafting table.  A progress that is about to become reality even for something as complex as whole cities. Swedish innovation agency Vinnova have recently announced a grand and long-term investment into a Chalmers based competence centre that will lead the development.
​Cities are the largest and most complex human artifacts, and also the most resource consuming and waste producing.  The share of the world’s population living in cities is increasing every year, which also increases the need for a transformation into sustainable design of our cities. The integration of digital methods can be of great support in this challenge. Like the process of designing an airplane or a car based on mathematical modeling, simulation and optimisation, cities could be designed to become more livable, efficient and resilient as they may be analysed and experienced before they are built. The undertaking from Vinnova makes the basis of a total investment of SEK 100 million to create opportunities to analyze and test the components of urban development in a completely new way.   

 – We are extremely happy and proud. Behind our application is very hard and long-term work from a committed team at Chalmers in close collaboration with our partners, says Professsor Anders Logg,  Department of Mathematical Sciences and one of two designated directors of the centre.

Copies improves the original

Digital twins is a concept that have revolutionized the manufacturing industry and is used daily to construct increasingly refined products. The technology has spread to include the planning and development of our cities but is usually limited to visual representation. Digital Twin Cities will develop the concept of digital twins for cities by modeling and simulating the city as a complex multi-physics system based on real-time data.   

 – Digital Twin may be a well-established concept, but what’s unique about our concept compared to those elsewhere, is that we aim to integrate what is underground, treating the city as a four-dimensional complex system in our simulations, says Professor Minna Karstunen, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering and designated director of the centre.   

The uniqueness of the concept was something Vinnova noted in their assessment, expressed in their motivation as follows: ”The novel approach in an otherwise well addressed field was deemed impressive by the evaluators, combining open source, smart city developments and public sector linkages, convincing the evaluators of the potential of the application.”   

Gathers a diversity in competencies

 – We now have the possibility to fulfill and scale up our pilot VirtualCity@Chalmers, which will make the cornerstone in the development of our centre. At the same time, we will now be able to take advantage of the strong competence already existing at Chalmers within modeling, simulation and visualization of cities, by combining our competencies in architecture, engineering, mathematics and computer science, with experience and current challenges from our partners, Anders Logg concludes.   

A broad consortium of 28 Swedish and international stakeholders with the base in Chalmers will cooperate in Digital Twin Cities. Cutting-edge research will be conducted in eight different research areas, covering all aspects needed to develop the large-scale digital twin technology, and to harvest the opportunities it brings in new approaches to urban planning & design, architecture and digital construction. To facilitate uptake and implementation for Sweden to spearhead the necessary digitalization of the built environment sector, a particular focus will be on knowledge transfer to industry and public actors.   

 – It is a fantastic opportunity and very exciting. This platform will truly be able to utilise the potential of the new department with its amplitude of disciplines and areas that will co-work to solve these important issues, says Professor Fredrik Nilsson, Head of Department.   

Research Areas

Digital Twin Cities will involve researchers from many different areas of research as well as industry partners and organisations from the civil sector, and the activities will be divided into following areas: 
  • Digital Twin PlatformUrban Planning and Design
  • Architectural and Structural Design
  • Digital Construction
  • Modelling & Simulation at the District Level
  • Modelling and simulation at the City Level
  • Visualisation & Auralisation
  • Data Management & Integration

The preparations for the new competence centre have already started and Digital Twin Cities is planned to be operative in January 2020.

Link to the press release from VInnova (in Swedish)

Triple helix diagram featuring partner logos


Published: Mon 24 Jun 2019. Modified: Wed 26 Jun 2019