Digital twins (DTs) have been found useful in manufacturing, construction, and maintenance. Adapting DTs to serve cities, the question arises of what an urban digital twin should contain and how it should be orchestrated to serve a city’s dynamical ecosystem, along with how to enhance the efficiency of the city. We are aligning with the commonplace idea that the main advantage of using DTs is economical as, for example, DTs can improve the planning of activities thus saving money and time. But how can they be useful for a city? Instead of looking at the DTs as solutions in search of problems to be solved, we start from city needs. Our approach is two-fold. We start by briefly reviewing existing possibilities for meeting some specific needs, but keep the focus on identifying and attempting to close the gap between the needs arising from everyday city functions and the latest DT techniques useful for meeting those needs. DTs are technically different and serve different applications, yet they share a common identity and name, as well as several technical similarities. Adopting computer science terminology, we see a back-end city DT as the container of all information, while any single front-end, visualized or used either by humans or robots, offers a limited but meaningful representation of the DT for a specific application. Alas, there are multiple open questions regarding the realization and benefits of such back-end DT. Nevertheless, we discuss how the back-end DT (or any specific DT) could be updated autonomously from sensor data using artificial intelligence techniques, and how the front-ends could be used for large benefits to the entire city ecosystem.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102915
JournalInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation
Early online date29 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • UT-Gold-D


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