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BN de Stem: "Digital Twin has no secrets"

Source: BN de Stem, Geert Nijland, 09-01-24. Photo: Joyce van Belkom/Pix4Profs

What are the consequences of a road closure? Where are the bottlenecks when all of Rotterdam descends to Breda for the celebration of the eleventh of the eleventh? A few questions that the new digital version of Breda can answer.

At the city office, Breda is one of the first municipalities in the Netherlands to cautiously experiment with this digital twin of the city, as the computer model is called in jargon. This "digital twin" of Breda is part of the digital atlas of Brabant developed by researcher Joost de Kruijf, in collaboration with the company Argaleo.

According to De Kruif and Jeroen Steenbakkers of Argaleo, nearly four years of work has gone into the project. ,,The digital atlas collects all public information available about Brabant. Think of the land register, the Chamber of Commerce, municipal and provincial sources. I have really been amazed at the amount of information that is public," says De Kruif.

Jeroen Steenbakkers (Argaleo) and Joost de Kruijf (LCB, BUas)
Jeroen Steenbakkers (Argaleo) and Joost de Kruijf (LCB, BUas). Photo: Joyce van Belkom/Pix4Profs

All information can be accessed with a single click

At the Logistic Community Brabant (LCB) office at the Breda University of Applied Sciences (BUas), De Kruijf shows what is possible with the digital atlas. He slides his cursor over a large screen and taps a random street in the Zandberg neighborhood. Look, every tree is drawn in and you can see the energy label of all the houses. You can see in the neighborhood how the traffic flows and where the bottlenecks are."

De Kruijf slides further down the screen to a business park and taps on any building. In a clear box, all kinds of information about the plot and the company in question appears. De Kruijf: ,,Policy makers at town halls can benefit from this atlas. For example, they can virtually visualize the consequences of traffic measures."

Infinite possibilities

According to LCB manager for 'livable city' Ruud Weijmans, the possibilities for using the digital twin are endless. ,,The accessibility of inner cities in particular is going to cause a lot of commotion in the coming years with the emission-free zones. Trucks and delivery vans that run on fossil fuels will no longer be allowed to enter the inner cities, including Breda's, from 2025. That has consequences for inner-city logistics."

,,And take the many construction projects in and near the Breda city center: this also creates logistical problems, as Breda residents know all too well. With the digital city model, you can make these problems transparent and try out possible solutions."

Over the past two years, Breda City Council has gained experience through pilots in order to learn more about the possibilities offered by a digital version of the city and what is needed to achieve this. The pilots focused on a number of topics: cycling, the attractiveness and bustle of the city center, and flooding.

The digital city model allows you to understand problems and try out possible solutions


Ruud Weijmans, Logistic Community Brabant

Spreading routes

According to the spokesman for the municipality, the pilots have shown that the digital version of the city adds value to the policies to be implemented. ,,The digital twin provides insights we did not have beforehand. For example, we now know better where cyclists ride and where cyclists have to wait a long time at traffic lights. With these insights we can improve the bicycle network and where possible, for example, adjust gritting routes during snowfall."

The municipality also experimented with the digital version of the city during events. "On the basis of counts by laser sensors, the crowds in the parking garages, incident locations and the location of parked shared scooters, among other things, we are now getting a better idea of how busy the city is," says the spokesperson.

Digitwin "Atlas Leefbare Stad" with an image of Breda
Digitwin "Atlas Leefbare Stad" with an image of Breda


The big question now is for whom the digital atlas will be available. During a presentation of the "atlas" at BUas, it became clear how great the need for such a source of information is among carriers. They are eager to be able to use it.

But it is not that simple. According to Jeroen Steenbakkers and Joost de Kruijf, each part of the atlas will require discussion about the usefulness and necessity of making the information available. For now, policy makers seem to be the only ones who can certainly benefit from it.

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