Exploring city digital twins as policy tools: A task-based approach to generating synthetic data on urban mobility

Paper by Gleb Papyshev and Masaru Yarime: “This article discusses the technology of city digital twins (CDTs) and its potential applications in the policymaking context. The article analyzes the history of the development of the concept of digital twins and how it is now being adopted on a city-scale. One of the most advanced projects in the field—Virtual Singapore—is discussed in detail to determine the scope of its potential domains of application and highlight challenges associated with it. Concerns related to data privacy, availability, and its applicability for predictive simulations are analyzed, and potential usage of synthetic data is proposed as a way to address these challenges. The authors argue that despite the abundance of urban data, the historical data are not always applicable for predictions about the events for which there does not exist any data, as well as discuss the potential privacy challenges of the usage of micro-level individual mobility data in CDTs. A task-based approach to urban mobility data generation is proposed in the last section of the article. This approach suggests that city authorities can establish services responsible for asking people to conduct certain activities in an urban environment in order to create data for possible policy interventions for which there does not exist useful historical data. This approach can help in addressing the challenges associated with the availability of data without raising privacy concerns, as the data generated through this approach will not represent any real individual in society….(More)”.