The Key to Success for Tomorrow’s Cities

ISSUE #61 – Dassault Systèmes, the 3DEXPERIENCE company provides businesses and people with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations. Its world-leading solutions transform the way products are designed, produced, and supported. Dassault Systèmes’ collaborative solutions foster social innovation, expanding possibilities for the virtual world to improve the real world. The group brings value to over 210,000 customers of all sizes, in all industries, in more than 140 countries.




The facts are well known: by 2050, three billion additional people, or two-thirds of the world’s population, are expected to be living in cities, which today produce 80% of global GDP, consume 75% of the world’s natural resources and produce approximately 75% of global greenhouse gases.

Globalisation, urbanisation, and climate change present significant challenges to cities worldwide. With the majority of the world’s cities located on coastal waterways, extreme weather and rising sea levels are a pertinent threat.

In addition, with the increasing deployment of connected sensor technology, cities are rapidly growing beyond the capability of planners and city managers to administrate effectively. In parallel, urban residents and visitors, accustomed to the personalised experience of the web enabled by their smart devices, have everhigher expectations on how technology will facilitate more engaging life, work and play experiences in the urban context.

This dynamic urban evolution presents a unique opportunity and challenge for city administrators, faced with the task of coordinating an ever proliferating field of specialised domains, each of them constantly growing in depth and complexity.

While cities cannot predict the disruptions they will face, they can become sufficiently resilient to adapt to potential disturbances, by learning from past events to better plan for the future. Resilient systems flourish during good times, and they withstand, respond and adapt more readily to shocks and stresses to emerge stronger after tough times. However, simply improving the individual systems that constitute a city is not enough to significantly increase the resilience of a city. Instead, a system-of-systems approach is needed’ one that simultaneously strengthens individual systems as well as the overall system of systems in a city.


The potential of smart city solutions to drive innovation, optimisation and automation of services and infrastructure is skyrocketing



In the face of today’s complex urban challenges, traditional methods and techniques of urban planning and design appear outdated. New approaches are needed to ensure the future success of cities. Lessons can be learned from Industry whose resourcefulness and innovation has blazed trails that could lead toward truly smart cities.

For decades, designers and engineers have used collaborative 3D modelling, visualisation and simulation to imagine, anticipate and test the behaviour of complex systems in the virtual world before prototypes reach production.

Cities are clearly not ships or airplanes; however, today, the same software tools developed to address product complexity are providing the foundation for the virtual technology used to create urban environments and objects, such as buildings, utility networks, mobility systems and other infrastructure.


The multi-dimensional modelling, visualisation, analytics and simulation in projects such as Virtual Singapore, a collaboration announced by the National Research Foundation Singapore and Dassault Systèmes in June 2015, are revolutionising the way cities address their challenges and democratise the urban renewal process. 3DEXPERIENCE City powers Virtual Singapore and provides the platform where Singapore city officials, residents and businesses will meet to co-create a better Singapore: a healthier, more sustainable and more resilient city.

While Virtual Singapore is groundbreaking in its scope – it seeks to provide a comprehensive virtual environment for modelling, simulating, visualising and experiencing the city of Singapore – it is more significant as the harbinger of holistic city models to come.

At present, traditional smart city approaches use virtual technologies primarily to capture, analyse and manage data of discrete city systems: public transportation, water management, waste collection, energy services and more. Much of the effort remains focused on single expert domains or silos. 3DEXPERIENCE City provides a horizontal approach powered by the 3DEXPERIENCE platform that links all players in a collaborative working environment and enables access to a single data referential, which dynamically updates as new data becomes available.

Consequently, data is exchanged and turned into information, in the literal sense of the word – it takes form. 3DEXPERIENCE City’s horizontal architecture is an integrative environment directly linked to the dynamic data referential that powers the modelling, analytics, simulation and visualisation of the city in its past, present and future states. A marketplace presents the vast offer of content, applications and services to cities, businesses and citizens.


While traditional urban digital models are static, 3Dgeometrical models that are at best enriched with geographical information system (GIS) and building information model (BIM) data, 3DEXPERIENCE City’s dynamic data model presents a 3D geometry model as just one of many possible data visualisations. A diverse set of different data sources are captured in a single referential—that increasingly becomes the virtual equivalent to the real city.

With 3DEXPERIENCE City, the virtual model is further enhanced with the flow of real-time, real-world data from Internet of Things (IoT) and Internet of Experiences (IoE) technologies. In addition, as IoT/IoE increasingly permeates industry and urban environments, the real-world data generated increases the accuracy and reliability of the virtual models, rendering them even more powerful.

The potential of such smart city solutions to drive innovation, optimisation and automation of services and infrastructure is in fact skyrocketing: analysts such as Frost & Sullivan are forecasting the market for smart city technology to reach US$1.6 trillion by 2020.


Cities are not orderly, predictable entities that can be readily planned and controlled. Instead, cities are complex, living systems. With the rise of IoT/IoE, the city’s systems, which constitute a system of systems, are becoming even more complex and organic, with an interplay of dependencies and interactions that are challenging to anticipate, identify, understand and manage.

In the IoT/IoE world, for example, objects in one system are increasingly required to talk to objects in another. Autonomous vehicles must talk to roadways, to signal systems, to bicycles and buildings, and, of course, to passengers, drivers and pedestrians. Silos of systems are thus giving way to a complicated, continuously evolving exchange between intimately  connected people, places and things.

3DEXPERIENCE City federates those disparate elements through its integrated platform. It links the stakeholders from all city domains in a collaborative working environment and enables access to a single data referential, which constantly updates as new data becomes accessible, and is linked to the 3DEXPERIENCE City marketplace offering, which includes content as well as applications, services and business opportunities.


The ability to model, analyse, simulate, visualise and experience complete cities in a virtual environment is at hand and, as in the world of manufacturing, the use of 3D visualisation offers a critical additional benefit: it greatly enhances collaboration and communication across disciplines and communities.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, digital technologies like 3D modelling, augmented reality and virtual reality are worth more than a million words, they bring urban planning and management to life in a very real and remarkably intuitive way, enabling people to connect and interact across social, economic, political, disciplinary and linguistic boundaries, and are enabling everyone to understand – to experience – the choices and possibilities before them in a very human way.

This type of compelling virtual environment is even more effective when it is made available via a cloud-based collaborative platform, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which is accessible to everyone, everywhere, 24/7, and provides the critical knowledge capture and sharing needed to strengthen collaborative innovation.

Faced with serious urban challenges, city officials, business people and citizens can now, like industry leaders before them, leverage the power of working on a collaborative platform with virtual technologies to co-create innovative and integrated urban solutions for more liveable, resilient cities and a more sustainable future.


Article by Alexandre Parilusyan, Vice President of Business Transformations, AP South, Dassault Systèmes


Article published in the FOCUS Magazine “Principles of Productivity” – Issue #3 2016