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Cities Leverage Digital Twin Initiatives to Advance BIM and GIS, Improving the Quality of Life for Their Constituents

27 Feb, 2020 By: Cadalyst Staff

Two cities — one in China, one in Portugal — provide examples of how local governments are benefiting from simulating real-world situations, optimizing systems and processes, and monitoring the performance and condition of assets.

Local governments around the world are finding ways to work more collaboratively in innovative digital initiatives. They are gaining new insights by simulating real-world situations, optimizing systems and processes, and monitoring the performance and condition of assets. The results are improved public safety and smarter, more resilient city infrastructure. Among the cities going digital are Chengdu, China, and Oporto, Portugal. These projects were represented as finalists in Bentley Systems’ 2019 Year in Infrastructure Awards for their innovative use of digital context for digital twins and for their strategies in implementing digital workflows.

Chengdu, the capital of China’s Sichuan province, is undergoing a CNY 1.38 billion road reconstruction project in the Shanbanquio area of the city. The project includes constructing 4.3 kilometers of roads, as well as bridges, tunnels, an underground pedestrian passageway, and pipeline and auxiliary works. The design of the main road needed to accommodate cars traveling at 60 kilometers per hour while the auxiliary roads had to support speeds of 40 kilometers per hour.

The project team faced several design challenges, including space constraints between the elevated and lower portions of the roadway and the connectors. It also had to determine the horizontal distances between pile foundations, the extended overpass bridge, and the boundary conditions, and consider a power tunnel, two subway stations, and three sections of subway line. Moreover, the designs had to ensure smooth traffic flow on the connectors as well as the slower lanes that connect to commercial businesses along both sides of the roadway. Finally, the project team had to consider how it would design and construct a safe pedestrian passage system along the green space and parks that are next to the high-traffic areas. Chengdu Urban Construction Investment Management Group Co., Ltd. required a high level of coordination at the design stage to avoid mistakes, omissions, and collisions.

To help with these challenges, the team used Bentley’s open modeling and simulation applications, all managed by ProjectWise, and created digital twins of all the project assets. OpenBridge Modeler was used to model bridge structures and develop a strategy to minimize the impact on local traffic, while OpenRoads was used to design 64 different roads. ProjectWise was chosen to store the road network information required for the traffic simulation, and helped the team to increase internal work efficiency by 20%, detect and resolve 16 collisions, and reduce construction drawing time by 120 hours. Using LumenRT for visualization shortened the approval process by 15%, saving additional time and cost.

“Intelligent transportation and the digital model are the foundation of a digital city. Digital twins provide a lightweight model, which expands the use of BIM applications beyond the project to the delivery of digital assets. Digital twins can be directly applied to the owner’s planning, construction, demolition, and other management,” said Yanxiang Wang, BIM engineer, Chengdu Urban Construction Investment Management Group Co., Ltd.

Existing pipe probing and designed pipeline data become part of a collaborative environment to meet planning application requirements, land use review, and approvals. Image courtesy of Chengdu Municipal Engineering Design and Research Institute; Chengdu Institute of Survey and Investigation.

Águas do Porto (Oporto Water Utility — AdP) is responsible for the sustainable and integrated management of the entire urban water cycle in the coastal community of Oporto, Portugal. AdP delivers an average of 45,490 cubic meters of water daily and collects approximately the same amount for treatment. The density and complexity of the hydraulic infrastructure and water resources in Oporto drive the need for integrated management of the urban water cycle and complicate the integration requirements for the varied existing systems throughout the company.

To integrate information across multiple software systems, AdP decided to leverage digital twins in what it called the Integrated Water Management of the Urban Water Cycle — H2Porto. The overall solution integrated multiple systems, including OpenFlows FLOOD, OpenFlows WaterGEMS, OpenFlows SewerGEMS, and ACTION Server. The team produced fully integrated digital twins of the city water supply and the wastewater, stormwater, and beaches and bathing water systems. The digital twins were then used to forecast flooding and water quality issues, improve city services and responsiveness, and ensure resilience of water infrastructure.

Phase 1 of the project saw the creation of a federated environment from more than 20 sources to integrate data from customer service management, billing, maintenance, project management, asset accounting, operational systems, lab management, GIS, SCADA, and more. Instrumentation data integration, which was addressed in phase II, required integrating data from sensors, telemetry, and remote management, including 30,000 telemetry meters and more than 200 devices.

The digital twins provide digital representations of all water systems of the city and include three meteorological models: Combined sewer and storm models for the sea front; estuary, coastal area, and wave models; and forecasting models. The digital twins are leveraged to provide access to this information in real time, produce forecasts, and to automatically update boundary conditions from water consumption and network sensors, run network scenario analysis for pipe bursts and valve and pump shut-downs, and to publish flows, velocity, water level, meteorology and currents. This digital twin environment has resulted in operating gains of 25%, and has reduced water supply failures by around 30% and duration of pipe bursts repairs by 8%. The immediacy of sensor readings improved decision-making, and increased stability and reliability of data to close to 99%.

A digital twin is used to model and perform predictive analysis of the city’s water supply, wastewater, stormwater, and bathing water systems to forecast flooding and water quality issues. Image courtesy of Águas do Porto.

Phase III is under way and is focused on installing sensors and automating the decision-making tools and interfaces, autonomous systems, and new liability models. Some of H2Porto’s priorities include sensor analysis, water supply model, burst simulation, meter operational management, and KPIs, as well as hydrodynamic model, faecal coliform prediction, and coastal hydrometeorology.

“H2Porto is an important catalyst for the digital transformation supporting changes in people, process, and technology, and most importantly, helps us with operational mobility and the provision of information in real time on any device,” said Pedro Vieira, IT and innovation director with Águas do Porto.


About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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