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Author: Antonio Vetrò, Senior Research Fellow at FULL, Politecnico di Torino.

In occasion of the 10th Nexa Conference, the Future Urban Legacy Lab will publicly launch the project Digital Open Urban Twin (DOUT). The project goal is to build a digital platform that allows the creation of layers of data “above” the physical city, each one on a specific focus and with potentially different -but coherent- level of details. The result is an “open digital twin” of the city, where open means in terms of licenses of the data and interoperability with open standards.


The DOUT initiative, as the program of the 10th Nexa Conference suggests, is part of a general on-going reflection on the role of common pools of shared digital resources in shaping the future governance of our cities. The mission of DOUT is to recover the neglected role of societies in the urban governance: in fact, as discussed in a previous post, “today, smart cities’ practices and services are mostly connected to modes of profit-making rather than welfare and better wealth redistribution”. In fact most of the funding agendas on Smart Cities and of the proposed solutions are ascribable to forms of technocratic and market driven governance -often bound to black box technologies and data- which do not really address the causes underlying complex urban issues.

With the DOUT, instead, the Future Urban Legacy Lab wants to give to policy makers, researchers and civil society at large the possibility to visualize how urban phenomena/problems are distributed across different areas of the city, and where inequalities arise. DOUT will spatialize the data of the city to enable a public discussion on the urban phenomena and problems that impact democracy and justice. Examples of urban dimensions of interest are: pollution, crimes, poverty, education, energy consumption, traffic flows, commercial activities.  We also aim at simulating the effects of possible interventions or new policies on the cities. We envision the following benefits:

  • evidence nurturing urban policies, and in general democracy in the urban context;
  • reduced informative asymmetries among stakeholders (citizens, public authorities, industry);
  • assessment of the risk of discrimination towards marginalized communities when using data to feed AI tools;
  • scenario-based or simulation-based alternatives for urban planning.

scenario-based or simulation-based alternatives for urban planning.

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Future Urban Legacy Lab