The US city of Las Vegas has become the second urban area to join Cityzenith’s Clean Cities - Clean Future initiative - a campaign aimed at helping most polluted urban centres become carbon neutral, by donating the company’s Digital Twin platform SmartWorldPro2 to targeted cities, one at a time. The announcement last week outlined a significant area of downtown Las Vegas that will leverage advanced 5G networking for IoT and digital twin technology to enhance mobility, air quality, noise pollution, water management, and building emissions, for the citizens of Las Vegas. This, and other smart city initiatives, are now promising to make the famous gambling mecca a beacon of clean and digital urban life.
“The world’s top 100 most-polluting cities produce 18% of global urban emissions and we will meet this challenge head-on, by going right to the biggest contributors first. As one megacity reaps the benefits, so others and governments will follow their example. What works for one will work for all. That is the beauty of SmartWorldPro2,” said Michael Jansen, CEO of Cityzenith. “Digital twin and IoT technology working together can transform mobility, walkability and emissions and air pollution. The Las Vegas project will also attempt to show local building owners they can dramatically reduce operating costs and emissions for little to no investment.”
In many ways Las Vegas is the ideal US city for digital twin technology. It is a relatively new city, designed from scratch, and is therefore dominated by a grid-based urban design system that is more easily quantified and digitized. Vegas was also built in the desert, giving it huge energy and water challenges to overcome from the outset. It also grew rapidly, expanding from 273,000 in 1972 to over 2.2 million in 2017. Las Vegas, AKA Sin City, is already one of the most surveilled cities in the US, while it’s big casinos have been tracking occupants for decades and may be some of the fastest CRE adopters of AI-enabled facial recognition technologies.
“Digital twins are rapidly becoming vital to how cities are run. Now in Las Vegas we will have a city-scale digital twin that is driven by the physical environment, and ultimately letting us control key systems through it,” said Las Vegas chief innovation officer Michael Sherwood. “This will give us new levels of insights and control to benefit city planners, residents, and businesses. We’re setting the benchmark for cities around the world to become smarter, efficient, safer and more sustainable.”
Cityzenith and the City of Las Vegas will unveil the first iteration of the new ‘Las Vegas Digital Twin’ at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), one of the world’s biggest technology events and hosted every January in Las Vegas. However, some information has been released, including one of the projects' other partners, Terbine, a local Las Vegas IoT firm. Terbine solutions collect and contextualize IoT data from local government agencies, building operators, transportation systems, vehicle manufacturers and more, to provide the high volumes of sensor information needed by comprehensive digital twins.
"Transitioning our home city into a clean, sustainable, and more attractive place to live and visit is a fantastic opportunity, and we’re very excited to work with the City of Las Vegas and Cityzenith,” said Terbine Founder and CEO David Knight said. “What we’re pioneering here represents a template for how other cities can enable sustainability and a better quality of life for their citizens."
Las Vegas had already been making moves towards digital twin and smart city technologies before the broad Cityzenith plan was announced. Just last month, Southern Nevada’s Regional Transit Commission (RTC) announced a partnership with consumer dashcam maker turned digital twin-as-a-service solution provider Nexar. The initiative aims to utilize crowdsourced dashcam image data to feed digital twins that represent a virtual model of the road system that can lead to traffic reduction and improve road safety. Nexar has developed AI algorithms that can automatically extract road features from camera footage while also masking sensitive data.
“Leveraging vision, and in particular crowdsourcing from moving cameras roaming the cities, allows for a rich, live, and equitable digital twin that covers entire cities and not just high-traffic areas,” Nexar CEO Eran Shir told VentureBeat. “This technology can help shape behavior and shift to a more proactive mindset by reducing the time in which problems are found, diagnosed, and fixed,” RTC engineering director John Peñuelas said in the same article.
Founded in 2015, Nexar has grown rapidly, raising over $100 million in funding and collecting more than 130 million miles of road data per month from its users. The company uses consumer-style dashboard-mounted cameras to generate a street-level view of the urban world from that mobile crowdsourced surveillance data. Initially focused on road planning and repair, delivery optimization, insurance, and autonomous vehicle training, the company has appeared to realize the unique value of the data produced for smart cities and is quickly pivoting towards an innovative road-based digital twin solution.
The digital twin is now the next big digital goal for progressive cities around the world. Each city faces its own unique challenges and priorities but one barrier seems to persist across all smart city developments - data sharing. To reach its full potential, the urban digital twin will rely on a collaborative approach to data collection and access, for public and private stakeholders as well as the users themselves, while also maintaining privacy and data security. Las Vegas’ unique challenges and opportunities make it an ideal showcase for the digital twin and smart city systems, the local authorities show great willingness to facilitate such collaboration, and this month’s announcement with CityZenith may be the missing piece of the city’s smart development puzzle.
Viva smart green Las Vegas!