The hype around the metaverse may have waned, but that does not mean it is not going to happen.
The Digital Twin “market”, while still nascent, is the precursor to the metaverse. Think of it as the equivalent of the adoption rate of the web browser in corporate settings in the 1994-1997 timeframe, which gave individuals their first experiential touchpoint with the internet at work – which they then installed on their personal and family computers. That is how the internet essentially scaled at a GUI interface, consumer level: exposure to the technology in an enterprise setting.
So too with digital twins in the context of the metaverse. There will be deployments of large-scale digital twin projects across a wide variety of industry sectors (outside of the consumer space) that will cumulatively account for what is correctly described as the “industrial metaverse.” Whatever becomes of the larger vision of the metaverse that Meta, Inc. and the technology pressed were obsessed with over the last two years will be built on operable digital twin projects as the foundation of the eventual fully immersive, 3D-based computer graphics-based, global internet of the future.
Virtual Singapore is that Future Now: “Virtual Singapore is a 3D digital replica of Singapore built on topographical as well as real-time, dynamic data. It will be the country’s authoritative platform that can be used in simulations and virtual tests of new solutions to urban planning problems. [The project] is co-led by the National Research Foundation, the Singapore Land Authority, and the Government Technology Agency. (1)
Explore and understand Virtual Singapore through the larger strategic initiatives of which the project is a part and the strategic collaborations across the public and private sectors that are making this virtual city-state a reality.
Dassault and NRF to Take Singapore into the Matrix
“A 3D model of city-state with semantics and attributes in virtual space”
Dassault Systèmes (#DS) has always been a really interesting company and is worth tracking. In the last five to eight years, 3DS put the delivery of virtual worlds at the center of their business model and value proposition. What is interesting is that they position the future of 3D systems in a mission statement, proclaiming that their “aim is to achieve a new development model to address the major challenges facing the world today.” This is interesting, as it allies the future of “metaverse systems” as part of the solution and is tethered to new systems thinking to address the global polycrisis. They are on to something here – so it is no surprise that the Singapore National Research Foundation tapped 3DS and their suite of world-building tools as a systems integrator of Virtual Singapore. The project as 3DS described it on the company website:
As part of its Smart Nation effort, Singapore wanted to develop a smart city environment to plan everything – from emergency evacuation to comfortable urban living.
Dassault Systèmes Response
Singapore chose Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCity®, powered by the 3DEXPERIENCE platform® which provides a scalable, single unified hub to represent, extend and improve the real world and manage data, processes, and people of sustainable cities.
With images and data collected from various public agencies, as well as legacy and real-time data, Virtual Singapore allows all users to visualize in 3D how the city will be developed and evolve with time in response to population growth, new construction, and other major events.
Other details of the project include:
- PARIS-based Dassault Systèmes said it was cooperating with the National Research Foundation (NRF) to develop Virtual Singapore, an integrated three-dimensional (3D) model of the city-state with semantics and attributes in virtual space.
- Advanced information and modeling technology will allow Virtual Singapore to be infused with static and dynamic city data and information, the company said in a statement.
- NRF is part of the Prime Minister’s Office, while Dassault Systèmes specializes in 3D design software and digital mockups, and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solutions.
- Virtual Singapore was first launched in December 2014 as part of Singapore’s Smart Nation drive.
- Virtual Singapore is a collaborative platform with a rich data environment and visualization techniques.
- Dassault Systèmes and NRF envision it will be used by Singapore’s citizens, businesses, government, and research community to develop tools and services that address the emerging and complex challenges the nation faces, the company said.
- This project will build upon Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCity platform to create a dynamic, 3D digital model of Singapore and connect all stakeholders in a secured and controlled environment, according to the company.
- The model will employ data analytics and simulate modeling capabilities for testing concepts and services, planning, decision-making, researching technologies, and generating community collaboration.
- With images and data collected from various public agencies – including geometric, geospatial, and topology, as well as legacy and real-time data such as demographics, movement, or climate – Virtual Singapore users will be able to create rich visual models and realistic large-scale simulations of the city.
- Users can digitally explore the impact of urbanization on the city-state and develop solutions that optimize logistics, governance, and operations related to environmental and disaster management, infrastructure, homeland security, or community services, Dassault Systèmes said. (2)
Smart Nation Singapore (The Smart Nation Digital Government Group)
Virtual Singapore is part of the Smart Nation initiative, one of many projects managed by a government agency dedicated to building “a digital-first Singapore…one where a Digital Government, Digital Economy, and Digital Society harness technology to effect transformation in health, transport, urban living, government services, and businesses”:
The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office (SNDGO), under the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), plans and prioritises key Smart Nation projects and drives the digital transformation of our Government. It also builds long-term capabilities for the public sector, and promotes adoption and participation from the public and industry, to take a collective approach in building a Smart Nation. With the Government Technology Agency (GovTech), the implementing arm of SNDGO, both entities are collectively known as the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG).
Strategic National Projects
The SNDGG has identified key Strategic National Projects to drive and enable the adoption of digital and smart technologies throughout Singapore.
Enabling a Culture of Innovation and Experimentation
“As the digital era rapidly evolves, it is up to us to dream and imagine bigger…with endless possibilities.”
The SNDGG is also working to put in place the right policies and legislation, “as well as support for research and co-creation from both the public and private sectors”. These major strategic initiatives are so well thought out and robust we include them here.
Open Data: Data sets collected by public agencies are now available and accessible to the public through online portals, making it easy for developers to co-create digital solutions to benefit society. Click on the link to access the available open data sets.
Living Laboratory: Research and innovation initiatives such as Research, Innovation and Enterprise and AI Singapore allow us to leverage emerging tech breakthroughs to drive our Smart Nation goals. Our Digital Economy is also an attractive hotbed for companies and researchers to develop, prototype and pilot their technological solutions.
Industry and Start-up Ecosystem: Singapore’s start-up ecosystem is built on a strong network of venture capitalists, MNCs, start-up accelerators such as JTC Launchpad and the SGInnovate . Currently, we are developing the Punggol Digital District (PDD) as an attractive hotbed for the world’s best tech companies and talents to converge, innovate and create iconic solutions to boost our Digital Economy.
Cybersecurity and Data Privacy: Cybersecurity helps us safeguard our Smart Nation growth by keeping critical systems and networks secure. We have our eye on possible risks and prioritise data privacy at all times.
Computational Capabilities and Digital Inclusion: Basic coding and computational thinking skills will help everyone benefit from our Smart Nation growth, regardless of age or digital literacy. We currently offer resources to assist both individuals and businesses to re-skill, so that they can leverage the growing opportunities of our Digital Economy. Check out the resources available for individuals and businesses.
Cross-border Collaboration: One way for us to grow is through sharing good ideas and best practices, exploring collaborations, and testing people-centric smart solutions within the region. The ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN) was established in 2018, offering a platform for ASEAN cities to exchange ideas and solutions to catalyze smart city projects.
The GeospatialSG Programme
Virtual Singapore is also under the auspices of the GeospatialSG programme, which is “co-driven by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) and the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech)..the programme reports to the Government Data Steering Committee overseen by the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office.
Singapore’s National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) was set up in 2008. Previously known as the Singapore Geospatial Collaborative Environment or SG-SPACE, the NSDI provides a mechanism to make authoritative geospatial data available for decision-making, public security, and cost-effective businesses. In 2018, SG-SPACE was reconceptualized to Geospatial Singapore (GeospatialSG), signifying the whole-of-nation approach to collectively maximize the use of geospatial information and technology for our Smart Nation and the Future Economy.” (1)
The value proposition, strategic marketing language offered by the programme and directed at a few different user communities is instructional:
General Public: Provide 3D-embedded city information on a realistic platform to connect, create awareness, and deliver services that enrich your community.
Businesses: Tap on the wealth of data and information within the platform for your business analytics, resource planning and delivery of specialized services.
Research Community: Create new innovations and technologies for public-private collaborations to create value for Singapore.
Government: Critical enabler to enhance various government initiatives for building a Smart Nation.
“We hope to see other cities echo Singapore’s exciting initiative.”
Policymakers and decision-makers in local, state, and federal organizations and the private sector should take the insights and inspiration from this project – and run with it. How can your organization be an evangelist for the robust future of digital twin “systems thinking” and project initiatives “to achieve a new development model to address the major challenges facing the world today?”
To start, cities may well be the scalable unit of measure and foundational building blocks:
“Singapore is the most advanced city in the world in terms of leveraging technology to plan and manage its transformation over the next decades, and its government’s forward-thinking vision towards a Smart Nation parallels our own mission to harmonize product, nature, and life through 3D universes,” said Dassault Systèmes president and chief executive officer Bernard Charlès.
“Cities are some of the most complex ‘products’ created by humanity. Through more efficient and accurate predictions of future experiences within these cities using state-of-the-art tools and applications, we can better anticipate national resource planning or provision of services, and contribute towards a more sustainable quality of life. “We hope to see other cities echo Singapore’s exciting initiative,” he added.
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