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Video | City scale digital twins to go global

Helsinki cpo agency9 3to2

Bentley Systems has taken over specialist modelling company Agency9 increasing its capability to build city wide digital twin models around the world.

Agency9 has already created detailed models to 20mm accuracy for half of the major cities in Sweden, but Bentley said its takeover would now allow it to expand, and create city models all over the world.

“Half the major cities are doing it in Sweden are already using this so it’s been improving in strength over the last few years and so now the global footprint of Bentley is going to let us take that to a global city audience rather than just Scandinavia,” said Bentley senior vice president Phil Christiensen.

The models have been created from around 100,000 images which have been taken from a small plane over head, but Christiensen said smaller areas of a city could be modelled with fewer images. The models have also improved by combining more images taken from helicopter and ground footage.

“You can start at any scale, you can do something for a part of a city with a few 1000 photos from a Cessna plane or you could do a really large format survey with 100,000 photos,” he said. “Or you could do a hybrid capture, a combination of plane, helicopter and people walking around taking photos.”

Additional data can then be fed into models to create a “digital twin” of the city.

“You might want traffic data, urban planning data, building approval data, engineering data from firms that have executed large projects,” he said. “Agency9 have developed the data management and the data conversion and synchronisation capability to bring together all of these disparate data sources so they can be visualised in a digital twin model.”

The models can be used within the “Open” suite of products by Bentley including OpenCity and OpenFlow, a flood modelling programme.

Christiensen said the digital twin model could be used for a range of different applications including for planning, both internally and as part of a public consultation, and “keeping tabs on how the city is being operated”.

“With this software, you can see what the state of the city is, a visual representation of how your city is performing for operational review,” he said.

“Another purpose of doing this is to keep citizens informed, to provide them with better information. They can now have a capability called 3D maps, which lets cities do the mobile apps that incorporates these city models on. The way the software is designed is that you can use it on the web browser, on the phone or any devise.”

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