Integrated strategies for streamlining and digitization of the world’s cities are being drawn up through a powerful platform at the World Economic Forum.
The Forum, whose 2022 theme is ‘History is at a turning point’, fosters cooperation between governments and business at global level and stages the influential annual Davos summit.
It is now pushing hard to focus disparate forces to enable cities to meet the twin challenges of Climate Change and fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Digital Twin technology, which enables city architects, planners, and managers to virtually model and project any proposed city development, from a single building to an entire city, is seen as the key and is mapped out by WEF report ‘Shaping the Future of Urban Transformation: Global Digital Twin City Initiative 2021-2024’.
This now has a cutting edge, the Urban Transformation Platform (UTP), with a three-part role described by its China Lead Yamin Xu as: firstly, to develop guidelines for future city design and development; secondly, to use Forum events such as the Davos summit to promote city evolution and change; and thirdly, to help select and foster cities that can pioneer the urban revolution.
He said the UTP had financial clout too: backed by the giant Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, it can help fund the most promising city projects.
And he added: “Mankind has an array of powerful new technologies it could use, but how do we link these into helping the world’s cities transition for a quite different future? That is the platform’s mission.”
The Forum’s UTP includes major companies and public bodies such as US engineering giant Aecom, US Urban Digital Twin pioneer Cityzenith, the UK’s National Digital Twins Programme, French software corporation Dassault Systemes, US computer services supplier Terra Infotech, the annual Smart City Expo World Congress (held in Barcelona in November this year), and a formidable line-up of Chinese and other Far East concerns.
They have all contributed influential individuals to the UTP committee or ‘think tank’, meeting up to twice a year “to discuss and decide on the strategic direction, share progress, and solve key issues of the project, while the project team will form specialized working groups to complete the working plan under the leadership of the committee.”
The 18-strong committee is Co-chaired by Zhifa Xu, Director, Institute of Planning, China Academy of Information and Communications Technology and Mark Enzer OBE FREng, CTO, Mott MacDonald and Head of the National Digital Twin programme, UK.
One of the committee’s newest members is Michael Jansen – visionary CEO and Founder of Cityzenith and an architect by training – who said: “This is not only an exciting opportunity and great honor for me, but recognition for an incredible technology that I knew would change the future when I first saw it demonstrated as a student at Cambridge.
“And this invitation follows excellent WEF support for Cityzenith and its ‘Clean Cities – Clean Future initiative’ to de-carbonize cities, which led to our invitation to join the WEF Global Innovators community, an excellent platform for engagement with public and private-sector leaders over new solutions for current crises and to build future resiliency.
“With only some 140 Global Innovator members across 15 different countries this was another great honor.”
Yamin Xu responded: “Digital Twins are a primary technology for the future of our cities and Michael Jansen is a key global tech pioneer, hence the UTP’s desire to have him on board.”