Cities are complex systems connected to economic, ecological, and demographic conditions and change. They are also characterized by diverging perceptions and interests of citizens and stakeholders. Thus, in the arena of urban planning, we are in need of approaches that are able to cope not only with urban complexity but also allow for participatory and collaborative processes to empower citizens. This to create democratic cities. Connected to the field of smart cities and citizens, we present in this paper, the prototype of an urban digital twin for the 30,000-people town of Herrenberg in Germany. Urban digital twins are sophisticated data models allowing for collaborative processes. The herein presented prototype comprises (1) a 3D model of the built environment, (2) a street network model using the theory and method of space syntax, (3) an urban mobility simulation, (4) a wind flow simulation, and (5) a number of empirical quantitative and qualitative data using volunteered geographic information (VGI). In addition, the urban digital twin was implemented in a visualization platform for virtual reality and was presented to the general public during diverse public participatory processes, as well as in the framework of the “Morgenstadt Werkstatt” (Tomorrow’s Cities Workshop). The results of a survey indicated that this method and technology could significantly aid in participatory and collaborative processes. Further understanding of how urban digital twins support urban planners, urban designers, and the general public as a collaboration and communication tool and for decision support allows us to be more intentional when creating smart cities and sustainable cities with the help of digital twins. We conclude the paper with a discussion of the presented results and further research directions.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited