"Virtual Singapore is a 3D digital twin of Singapore built on topographical as well as real-time, dynamic data," explains George Loh of the city's National Research Foundation (NRF).
It was built using software by French firm Dassault Systemes, drawing on internet of things (IoT) sensors, big data and cloud computing, combined with building information modelling. Drawing on these data points including map and terrain data, and real-time traffic, demographic and climate information,and their limitless interrelations, it can show how one change could affect the lives of millions of people, and the systems they depend upon.
As such, it offers an "authoritative platform that can be used by urban planners to simulate the testing of innovative solutions in a virtual environment", says Loh.
As megacities spring up across the world, in a context of rapid demographic, technological and environmental change, such systems could enable effective solutions to be identified and implemented more rapidly, potentially safeguarding developers from costly mistakes.
What blindspots might such systems develop? What is needed to ensure they represent the impacts of change on urban populations equitably, and that their results don't reinforce biases?