ADB assets could soon have ‘Digital Twins’: UCCRTF at the Digital Twin workshop in Singapore 

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July 2019

The Digital Twin Workshop, held on 3 to 4 June in Singapore, was organized to help digitize projects funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), expand ADB’s GIS-based Spatial Data Analysis Explorer (SPADE) platform, and explore the future potential of its Sovereign Operation IT platform. 

The two-day event, designed for ADB staff, aimed to introduce and create an understanding of the Digital Twin—a digital replica of a city—which can offer a potentially high-impact solution for ADB’s sovereign operations. The workshop featured subject matter experts and industry specialists who demonstrated the overview, application, and real-world impact of digital technology. The workshop also provided an opportunity for participants to test and experiment with a ‘Digital Twin’ for their own projects and initiatives. 

In essence, a digital twin is “a virtual replica of a physical asset—from highways, dams, bridges, power plants, and even whole cities”. Smart sensors are installed in the physical assets, allowing the virtual replica to collect huge amounts of real-time data that can be used to simulate various physical and even meteorological conditions in the digital twin. Therefore, the virtual replica is incredibly rich in detail, robust, and accurate. More importantly, this tool can help cities evaluate and plan for impacts of new investments or climate events at a fraction of the cost.   

The Digital Twin requires different forms of datasets like Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Internet of Things Sensors (IoT), so a platform is needed as a base repository. To facilitate this, SPADE could potentially integrate the different datasets and base maps supporting the Digital Twin technology. SPADE is a web-based Geographical Information System (GIS) platform developed by the Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF). It is hosted on a cloud server that contains various geospatial datasets. Currently, SPADE contains GIS datasets for several cities across Asia. 

Virinder Sharma, senior urban development specialist from ADB’s Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department, delivered a presentation on SPADE at the Digital Twin workshop. He focused on how SPADE could be deployed by project officers in project preparations, infrastructure planning, production of maps, and analysis of climate change impacts. Moreover, SPADE could also be a repository of geospatial datasets produced by projects within ADB. Currently, there is no repository of GIS datasets, which means future projects would either recreate or repurchase the needed geospatial information. The response to the presentation was positive, with participants requesting for access to SPADE. 


UCCRTF Secretariat 

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ADB’s vision is to transform the archetypical chaotic, polluted, inequitable cities of Asia and the Pacific into a competitive, equitable, environmentally sustainable, and climate resilient urban centers—in short, livable cities. This will require a new approach to city development, including how ADB supports that development.

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