The advancement of technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), has made it possible to create “digital twins,” or virtual replicas of objects, processes or places from the physical world. As Daniel Castro writes for Government Technology, cities around the world are beginning to use this same technology. Digital twins can help cities plan transportation systems, prepare for flooding and warn pedestrians about areas with high pollution. Cities in the U.S., however, have been slow to adopt digital twins, even as many American firms have been leading providers of the technology.
Cities should continue to explore how to use digital twin technology to make their communities smarter, safer and more efficient. Investment in technical enablers, especially smart infrastructure and other smart city technology, would increase the availability of data necessary for cities to reap the benefit of digital twin technology. While much of this direction and leadership will come from the local level, U.S. cities should also work with their peers to create interoperable systems, support communities of practice and build national support for more smart city initiatives.