Smart City Digital Twins

PAS QuickNotes 89

By John Taylor, Neda Mohammadi


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A smart city digital twin (SCDT) — a living digital replica of a city that is continuously updated with real-time data and analytics on interactions between humans, infrastructure, and technology — offers a holistic view of the changes that take place in a city. By generating feedback loops of human-infrastructure interactions, SCDTs enable city governments and planners to make hyperlocal data-driven decisions, incorporate community and stakeholder priorities, and evaluate policies and initiatives through "what if" scenario analysis and prediction.

Planners and city officials can benefit from integrating data through SCDTs to ensure that smart technology investments will return maximum benefits. By creating unified, stakeholder-led collaborative decision-making spaces, SCDTs allow cities to quickly identify ineffective strategies, validate effective interventions, and accelerate their paths toward achieving improved quality of life, economic growth, sustainability, resilience, equity, and livability of their communities.

This edition of PAS QuickNotes defines SCDTs and explains how this emerging tool can be used to support better decision making, more effective stakeholder engagement, and more robust scenario planning processes.


Page Count
Date Published
Dec. 1, 2020
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

About the Authors

John Taylor
Dr. John E. Taylor is the Frederick Law Olmsted Professor and Associate Chair for Graduate Programs and Research Innovation, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology.

Neda Mohammadi
Dr. Neda Mohammadi is City Infrastructure Analytics Director, Network Dynamics Lab, Georgia Institute of Technology.