How do you quickly have the right information during a crisis or incident? The Safety Region Zeeland and the Fieldlab Zuid6 have been running a pilot with Digitwin for the past 2 years. What has this system brought them? And how do they see the further development into the future?
Zuid6 (the partnership of the 6 southern security regions) was looking 2 years ago for a tool that would allow them to gain more insight into the current risks and threats of a specific area. "We did a market survey," says Pepijn de Smet, project manager on behalf of Zuid6. "That's where Argaleo's Digitwin information system came out."
"The beauty of this system is that we can select an area ourselves," says Marcel Matthijsse, policy advisor at VRZ and National Coordinator for Water Crisis Preparedness Safety Regions. "We are then immediately shown the data for that specific area, for example the number of inhabitants. That was already a big leap forward for us. After all, it makes quite a difference whether you have to evacuate 4,000 or 40,000 people. We can also immediately see what function the buildings in that area have, for example, how many healthcare facilities are there and what daily occupancy they have based on the licensing. So we immediately have a good picture of the affected area."
"Over the past two years we have further developed the system together with Argaleo," says Pieter Jongejan, information specialist at the Zeeland Safety Region. "During a fire, for example, we want to know which area is covered by the smoke cloud. That's why Argaleo has made a link with current weather data. This allows us to see exactly over which area the smoke plume is blowing. We also made other links. One example is the link with the national common control room system (GMS). This allows us to see at a glance what reports there are in this area and their status."
from left to right Pepijn de Smet, Pieter Jongejan, Marcel Matthijsse and Michel ten Brummelhuis
So Digitwin has evolved quite a bit. First of all, can you take me back to the beginning? What struck you first when you started working with Digitwin?
Marcel: "That the system has a good foundation. The buildings on the map are displayed in 3D. That was already a big step forward for us, because it allows us to look around the buildings now. The fire department often stands in front of a building. They cannot see how far the building extends to the back. In Digitwin, we can see what shape the building is and how high it is. The latter is also valuable information. A nursery in a high-rise building is very different from a nursery on the first floor."
We can click on the objects and then we can see all the relevant information available about the building, such as how old the building is, what its zoning is, and what the daily occupancy is based on the permit. We used to have to look up all that information. Now everything is conveniently together in one system."
Digitwin can display the buildings in 3D. So you can see at a glance how tall the buildings are and what shape they have
How did Digitwin subsequently evolve?
Pepijn: "We looked at what information we need during crises and incidents. We added that data to the system. For example, we once had a large outdoor fire. We then wanted to know which pipes were underground and which hazardous materials were passing through them. It took time to find that out.
We added the data from all those pipes to the system. This allows us to see immediately in the next fire how the pipes run, what substances pass through them and who owns them. That way we can act faster."
The safety region has added links to data sets to the system. As a result, Digitwin can now, for example, also display where the pipelines under the ground are located
Can you cite more examples of valuable data that you are now extracting from the system?
"Real-time data, for example, on the relative speed of traffic. Those speeds are displayed in the colors green, yellow and red, just as you are used to from Google Maps. We also now have a real-time view of how busy the area is. That data comes from the apps people use on their phones. So we know how many people are in an area, even if there are no cameras there."
"We are now expanding this functionality together with TU Delft," says Michel ten Brummelhuis, project manager at Argaleo. "We are looking at whether we can also display what the expected crowds in the areas are, for example a week ahead. That gives even more action perspective."
The relative speed of traffic is displayed in real time
Can you cite examples of incidents where Digitwin has already proven its value?
Pieter: "We did once have to deal with a sand dredger that had sucked up a World War II bomb. The Explosives Ordnance Disposal Service (EOD) then indicated that the area around the bomb had to be evacuated.
We then selected the area on the map in Digitwin. Then, at the push of a button, we got an Excel file with all the companies located in that area. The population management department could call those companies and ask them to leave the premises. Without Digitwin, they would have had to look up in the Chamber of Commerce trade register which companies were located there. That would have been a lot more work."
Pepijn: "There are many more crises in which a Digitwin can be a useful tool. During the corona pandemic, for example, we could have used it to map the infections per district. That way we could have adjusted the approach accordingly.
And late last year there was social unrest because energy prices were rising rapidly. We can see in Digitwin exactly which disadvantaged neighborhoods have the most houses with a low energy label. Those are the neighborhoods where you can expect the most unrest. With that kind of insight, you can prepare better."
It is possible to display the energy labels of different houses. This is valuable information if you expect social unrest due to rising energy prices
Where are you now? And how will you ensure that you benefit even more from the application?
Marcel: "For us, Digitwin has proven its power. So we are going to implement it in our work processes. We hope that our crisis partners, such as municipalities and other security regions, will also start working with it, because it gives them a lot of convenience and efficiency."
Pieter: "We are also going to help Rijkswaterstaat develop an evacuation module in Digitwin. In a major disaster, you want to know in real time how quickly you can get people out of an area. Over which roads can you best send them? And how long will it take before the area is empty? We now have a lot of experience with Digitwin. Moreover, Zeeland is a special province where many more people stay on summer days than in winter. We are going to investigate how we can also display those millions of tourists in Digitwin, so that Rijkswaterstaat can take that real-time data into their plans and scenarios."
Marcel: "Moreover, we ourselves see many opportunities to do even more with the system. For example, how nice would it be to also include the planning of the various buildings in Digitwin? I can imagine that in case of an incident, you would automatically see the first 10 actions. And we have a lot of shipping with hazardous materials in this area. It would be nice if we could provide insight into where those ships are via Digitwin."
You can click on a building. Then you will see all the details of that building. The safety region wants to add more information to this overview, such as planning
At the national level, work is underway on the Central Coordination Realm and Regions Exchange (KCR2). To what extent does Digitwin connect to the KCR2 that is currently being built?
Pepijn: "Digitwin can work with any other system. That is not a problem. However, it is important that we make agreements at the national level about the datasets we use, because that ensures that we work together from the same viewpoint."
You just mentioned two crises that we didn't see coming in advance, namely the energy crisis and the corona pandemic. Is it realistic to think that you can prepare for a crisis, the existence of which you do not know now?
Pieter: "Of course we don't know what type of crises we will be facing in the future. But we can make sure that we bring together as much relevant data as possible in advance. That is why I use Digitwin in the conversations I have with our crisis partners. I show them what we have to offer them and I ask what relevant data they would like to share with us. This way, step by step, the system is filled with more and more data that can be relevant for a next crisis."
Finally, you have now accumulated the necessary experience. What advice would you give new users?
Pepijn: "Make sure the data is in order at the source. For example, one time I wanted to add the underground parking garages of this area to Digitwin. I wanted to make a link to the data of the municipalities. I then noticed that the data set was not complete. It is then tempting to manually add the missing parking garages. But it's better to start the conversation with the municipalities and that's what I did. They now understand why it is important for us that they provide the right data and they do. So we have made an optimization effort at the source."
Marcel: "My advice would be: make sure you learn from the experiences of other users, also from other domains. Argaleo has more information products, such as the Crowd Safety Manager. This is used by several municipalities and the police to map crowds, for example at events. It is instructive to see how they deploy that product. That way you avoid all reinventing the wheel."
Michel: "Until now, we brought the users of the different domains into contact with each other in an informal way. Starting this year, we are going to facilitate that more. We are going to organize a meeting twice a year where users from different domains can share experiences with each other. This will make it even easier to learn from each other."
And what pitfalls would you warn new users about?
Pepijn: "Make sure you don't overcomplicate it. Keep an eye on the applicability. You can really make everything transparent with Digitwin. But that does make it unclear. And during a crisis, people have little time to make a decision. So limit yourself to the information they need to make good decisions and leave out the rest."
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