Potential and limitations of digital twins to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

Paper by Asaf Tzachor, Soheil Sabri, Catherine Richards, Abbas Rajabifard, Michele Acuto
Published on 05 August 2022


Could computer simulation models drive our ambitions to sustainability in urban and non-urban environments? Digital twins, defined here as real-time, virtual replicas of physical and biological entities, may do just that. However, despite their touted potential, digital twins have not been examined critically in urban sustainability paradigms—not least in the Sustainable Development Goals framework. Accordingly, in this Perspective, we examine their benefits in promoting the Sustainable Development Goals. Then, we discuss critical limitations when modelling socio-technical and socio-ecological systems and go on to discuss measures to treat these limitations and design inclusive, reliable and responsible computer simulations for achieving sustainable development.

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