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Dassault Systèmes to develop Singapore’s ‘digital twin’

Zafirah Salim | July 28, 2015
The French company is partnering with the National Research Foundation to develop Virtual Singapore, a 3D city model platform that aims to solve the nation’s emerging and complex urbanisation challenges.

According to Charles, Dassault Systèmes have been dabbling in this field, working across different verticals, for the past 30 years; and its first successful project was getting an airplane to safely take off without physical prototyping.

"This is only the tip of the iceberg and we have demonstrated that by coordinating the entire supply chain for construction, we can make extremely sophisticated architecture and affordable design," said Charles. "The cost of doing the initial setup has been significantly reduced. More importantly, it becomes a reference to so many big data that we have. We can now use this master model, or digital twin, to put in context with our massive set of existing information."

Since the digital twin for modeling simulation has proven that it can be used in extremely complex sectors like aerospace and also manufacturing, Dassault Systèmes believes that it is now possible to apply this approach to entire cities.

"A city is no longer a 'flat thing' - it is a multi-dimensional organism and incorporates space and time. If you look at multi-modal transportation for example, a system cannot be effectively put in place without a true 3D definition of the city," said Charles.

Understanding big data

"Many people are talking about smart cities and big data, but the problem is that people don't know what to do with big data. We need to understand the value of legacy data and be smart to discern between what's good and bad data," said Charles.

"If you don't use big data in reference to real context of the city, it's difficult to understand what you can get from it. The approach we have taken is an open platform using an existing data centre. We leave the data where they are, but index them - we call them 'data science' - and put them in context of the digital experiences," he added.

With Virtual Singapore, agencies can use a 'master model', or digital twin, to put things into context and leverage their sets of existing information to assess the impact of any changes, such as traffic optimisation, planning infrastructure development or risk management.

This very concept is not a question of viewing, but a question of understanding. It is also a question of collaborative work so we can predict the decisions that are going to be made, emphasized Charles.

One key value of digital twin is that it enables us to simulate what-if scenarios - it is not a real experimentation, said Charles. For instance, if the government decides to build a stadium somewhere in the city, how would this affect the traffic flow? This 3D model can help developers to better visualise the multi-model traffic system and work their ideas around this finding.

 

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