Piloting a precinct level, analytics-aided and standards-based 3D/4D digital twin in Western Sydney (NSW) focused on urban liveability and climate adaptability use cases.

The challenge

A robust city modelling framework is essential if local, state and national governments and communities are to work together across complex multi-sectoral problems to improve urban liveability and climate adaptability. Currently, there is a lack of a publicly available, broadscale 3D digital representation of the impact of the urban landscape and building design on urban heat islands, street shading and walkability.

This project has developed a demonstration digital twin that embeds the required analytics within a 3D city modelling framework to address these critical challenges within the built environment.

The solution

Digital twins have the potential to transform the design, management and performance of the built and natural environment. While a variety of digital twins support exploration, visualisation and analysis of multi-dimensional data, use cases that demonstrate the analytical power of digital twins – and specifically 3D and real-time data streams within an integrated analytical treatment for situational awareness – are still lacking. FrontierSI is determined to build spatial capabilities across government, industry and universities to enable the delivery of an ecosystem of integrated digital twins. Purpose-built use cases that are developed on common frameworks and are open standards-driven will contribute to the wider use of digital twins.

This project pilots a digital twin illustrating how behaviour (that is, movements) change as a function of a complex interaction of environmental and physical conditions. Such conditions include the impact of 3D urban landscape and building design on urban heat islands, street shading and walkability, understanding walking behaviour as a function of heat, time of day, 3D structure and how, for example, this may allow mitigation and adaption to be designed concerning social distancing.

This collaboration produced the following outcomes:

  • Algorithms for real-time monitoring and propagation of temperature (namely, 3D contour maps), computation of shadows and analysis of pedestrian movement.
  • A spatial schema and generic workflows for creating a digital twin from data portals, BIM data and sensor data.
  • A mechanism and interfaces for maintaining up-to-date digital twin data.
  • Recommendations for follow-on 
  • Developing strategic overview, industry stakeholder review and recommendations


The pilot concentrates on 3D analytics for urban micro-climate, including urban heat islands, temperature propagation, shadowing and its effect on pedestrian thermal comfort, mobility and walkability across selected urban scenarios in Western Sydney, a fast-developing area posing many challenges to urban planners and stakeholders. Digital twin frameworks are further developed through use cases benefiting construction, asset management and planning/design. This pilot progresses a digital twin framework for data ingestion protocols, data management, workflows and real-time data analytics for situational awareness. It is designed to be scalable and transferable to other application domains, for example, melding 3D city models and real-time data streams to other problems.

Visit the live demonstration at https://lcdt-project.unsw.edu.au/

Final report [pdf]

Recommendations report [pdf]

Project participants

This project is supported by FrontierSIAURINUNSW Research Infrastructure and in collaboration with NSW Spatial ServicesData61QLD DNRME and Astrolabe.

Participant’s details



Sisi Zlatanova UNSW Project Lead
Abdoulaye Diakite UNSW Development team
Negin Nazarian UNSW Development team
Jack Barton UNSW Project Coordinator
Michael Comninos Astrolabe Steering Committee
Stuart Barr AURIN Steering Committee
Jim Sloan DNRME Steering Committee
Sudarshan Karki DNRME Steering Committee
Kathryn Salm FrontierSI Steering Committee
Emily Tinson​ Liverpool City Council Steering Committee
Wayne Patterson Spatial Services Steering Committee
Zaffar Mohamed-Ghouse Spatialvision Steering Committee
Christopher Pettit UNSW Steering Committee
Tomasz Bednarz UNSW/Data61 Steering Committee
Pascal Perez UoW Steering Committee

Contact persons

Jack Barton (jack.barton@unsw.edu.au)