CHINA: World Economic Forum and CAICT on Earth Day Launched the Digital Twin City Framework and Practice Insight Report

Insight Report of “Digital Twin City Framework and Practice”

EARTH DAY 2022 — In the collaboration with China Academy of Information and Communications Technology(中国信息通信研究院, CAICT), a research think tank directly under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology(MIIT) of China, the World Economic Forum launched the first Insight Report of “Digital Twin City Framework and Practice”. READ REPORT

The digital twin city is a new direction for the development of smart cities. It is a comprehensive city integrator of digital technology spanning segmental application to overall optimisation, as well as a city-level innovation platform that requires the participation of multiple stakeholders.

The Platform of IoT and Urban Transformation of World Economic Forum, CAICT and other key platform members such as the Good City Foundation, Mott MacDonald Group, Urbanetic, formed an international task-force to launch an in-depth collaboration on “Shaping the future Digital Twin Cities” to promote industry consensus, create common visions and industrial protocol, incubate and showcase best practices, and enhance public-private partnerships through the collaboration.

Members of the Digital Twin City Advisory — World Economic Forum

Market Outlook for Digital Twin Cities

In the last 20 years, the applications of digital twin technologies have been widely introduced in various industries and sectors, from manufacturing to constructions, public health and others. According to the report, market of digital twins would be growing to 48 billion USD by 2026, rapidly by 58% CAGR. Besides the US, China has become one of the largest digital twins market with number of City Information Model (CIM) construction projects growing from merely 2 in 2018 to 72 by 2021. Among the case studies collected by the WEF and CAICT, over 50% of the investment projects in CIM amounted 10m RMB above, with average CIM project investment reaching 28m RMB.

Source: CAICT

Since 2018/19, digital twins technologies have been widely adopted in city development with 4 domains of technical enhance: 1)Analysis and Insights; 2)Integration of Reality and Virtuality; 3)Intellectual Intervention and 4)Accurate Mapping.

Source: Xinjiang International Land Port (in Chinese)

Developing a digital twin city requires nine elements, representing a “4+5” framework. The “4” refers to the four core elements, which are: 1) Infrastructure; 2) data resources; 3) platform capacity; and 4) application scenarios.

These elements provide the internal power and digital base for the digital twin city. The “5” in the framework comprises the five major external supporting elements of digital twin cities. These are: 1) strategy and mechanisms; 2) stakeholders; 3) funding and business models; 4) standards and evaluation; and 5) cybersecurity.

As the concept of digital twins get clearer, visions of digital twin city could be easily outlined with 1)Efficient and Intensive Urban Production and Operations; 2)Convenient and Liveable Urban Space and 3)Sustainable Urban Environment.

Challenges and recommendations for the digital twin city

Despite the maturity of technologies, cities face huge challenges in meeting the housing, infrastructure, transport and energy needs of their urban populations, and urgently require new ideas and solutions.

“Centralized processing of huge amounts of data leads to an increased risk of data security failures and privacy leakage. There is also a lack of industry algorithm modelling resources within the city. The digital twin city involves multidimensional and multi-industry systems, and there is an urgent need for professional knowledge bases and industry models in various aspects of data, models and interaction.” — World Economic Forum

Cities, in the public and private sectors, shall explore more innovative business and financing model for, investing, implementing and advancing digital twin cities. While mostly of the current digital twin cities applications were settled by the public budget, more values adjustments and business innovations shall be involved with the private investors, companies and others to ensure sufficient economics of scale and sustainable growth of the market.

Snapshots of the Insight Report Launch on Earth Day 2022


  1. World Economic Forum Digital Twin Cities Framework and Practice Insight Report 2022



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