The digital twin for mobility brings together different data sources and opens up opportunities for new services and the development of a functional city. Mobility Lab Helsinki develops the digital twin for mobility and promotes its use for innovations.
The digital twin for mobility provides a virtual representation of the traffic system, the traffic environment and conditions. It is a set of multiple data sources whose purpose is to create links between different information systems and their data content. Therefore, a digital twin for mobility is not a single system but a combination of open data sources and constantly updated information that can be applied to many uses.
A combination of multiple data producers, users and use cases
Several different operators produce and maintain traffic-related data in the city. A variety of tools can be used to study, process, refine and combine data from different data sources, adding significant value to existing data to support planning, for example.
The data in the digital twin can be roughly divided into three categories:
- Data on the traffic environment and infrastructure (e.g. information on street structure, traffic signs, accessibility of bus stops)
- Data on traffic (e.g. the number of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians on a given street)
- Data on conditions and context (e.g. information on air quality, street works, maintenance needs and disruptions)
The digital twin for mobility can be used for purposes such as traffic forecasting and simulation, traffic and city planning, infrastructure maintenance and asset management, and logistics resource planning. The sharing of data can also support the development of new services and businesses.
From a pedestrian’s point of view, the digital twin shows the network of pavements and footpaths in the city and information such as temporary traffic arrangements around construction sites. The digital twin includes a description of the conditions and information such as the stops, routes and timetables of the public transport network. Traffic, in turn, is illustrated by real-time pedestrian volumes, directions and dangerous situations at specific locations.
In the future, this ‘pedestrian digital twin’ can be used to provide up-to-date routes and directions, assess the need for street maintenance or plan City services.
Helsinki’s digital twin as an umbrella
The digital twin for mobility is part of the development of the City of Helsinki’s digital twin and the digitalisation of the City in general. The urban environment is a complex entity, with data on it scattered across a large number of different information systems.
Therefore, the digital twin is a ‘system of systems’ that can contain many different views that serve different purposes. Different use cases require different input data and different tools to make use of that data. New and even surprising combinations of data offer the opportunity to provide added value and new understanding. The full potential of the urban digital twin is not yet known.
The key benefit of the digital twin is the approach it offers: before major changes are made to the urban environment in the real world, the effects of these changes can first be tested digitally. This saves resources and helps build better lives in cities, as the urban environment can be improved through informed decision-making.
Photo: Julia Kivelä / Helsinki Partners