Smart Solutions

Digital Village Twin

The village is re-created in a 3D digital model to allow for the testing and modelling of different aspects of village development.

Implemented inVeberöd

Country : Sweden

What’s the solution?

The ‘digital village twin’ involves creating a detailed digital map of the village in three-dimensions (3D), which can then be visited, explored, modelled and tested for different possible future scenarios, such as creating new areas for housing or new infrastructure, changes in traffic flow, energy usage or water management.

An important focus is to model different ways of progressing the village to be as sustainable and ideal a place to live for its villagers as possible.

The model can be created from GIS data or based on detailed recordings and measurements taken from drone footage or sensors mounted on vehicles. Building on this overall model and to measure specific things over time at specific places, various sensors are then  placed at different locations across the village, in order to collect readings and data which can be associated with the 3D model. For instance the passages of cars, bikes or walkers be measured in order to understand how village spaces and facilities are used at different times of the day. The modelling can help see if changes to the village will create unforeseen problems or possibilities.

Using specific software, the 3D model can be used to test changes to the village. The model can be used for a wide range of purposes, but above all, it can be seen as an easy-to-understand communications platform for discussing different possible future changes to the village.

The model can be used by the local authority, by researchers and private companies to test ideas and explore smart and more sustainable forms of village development. If the local authority is intending to build a new school or bus terminal for instance, several possible locations and designs can be modelled and used as a source for discussing the impact on the village as a whole. Other examples can be modelling energy production versus energy consumption at various times of the day, or

how local mobility is organised. There are many possibilities, depending of what kind of output is requested. The model can be expanded over time if new information or new types of information is to be processed. In the future, it should also be possible to connect different digital twins from different places, in order to get reference data.

What makes it smart?

The solution is smart because it is a versatile and innovative platform for data collection and storage. Many things have already been tried, and  many more uses are underway. The village of Veberöd is exploring uses together with several universities, such as Lund and Boston. The emphasis is very much on sustainability and how people in a village use their living space for recreation as well as developing access to basic services in the countryside. In the long run this can be a foundation for dimensioning a village’s resources and also give important data that can be used to encourage behavioural change for a more sustainable world.

How is the solution implemented?

  • Establish interest on the part of the local authority
  • Set up a steering group or similar to oversee the project
  • Establish contact with a local/regional company that could provide the required technical expertise and also handle GIS data if such already exist
  • Cost estimation and funding for creating a detailed digital map of a village, this can be lower or higher resolution depending on the local need
  • Build relationships with researchers and private companies that could be interested in using the tool and seek their buy-in
  • Commission a specialist company to create the map using drones and GIS data
  • Purchase the required software to collect data and model changes within the digital twin
  • Find different ways of using this new tool for the benefit of the village.

In what local context has it been applied?

The village of Veberöd is located in the municipality of Lund in Skåne, Sweden's southernmost province. The village is around 30 km from the southern tip of the Scandinavian peninsula and 36km from the provincial capital of Malmö.

The village has bus connections with Lund, Sjöbo and Malmö. However, railways serving Veberöd were closed to passenger traffic in 1970 and to freight traffic in 1974. Nevertheless, the village has had a steadily growing population, up from just under 1000 in 1960 to over 5500 by 2020, and is still growing.

The village has a church, two schools, two grocery stores, several restaurants, a hardware store, a pharmacy, three petrol stations, and an open-air swimming pool that is open during the summer season.

Veberöd’s inhabitants are relatively engaged and nature and family are top priorities. One of the grocery stores is a co-op store run by Veberöd's consumer association - the only such consumer association remaining in the province. The outdoor swimming pool is managed by the local scout group. In 2008, a young person in the village created a website to promote local activities.

The villagers have a strong interest in sustainability and resilience and are using the close connection to the academy and research in nearby Lund municipality to create a research village for smart and sustainable solutions for society. This a focus of plans for expanding the village from 5000 to about 8000 inhabitants by 2040.

Who was behind the implementation?

  • Byutveckling AB (´Village development Ltd) is a limited company that was set up to support local village development in Veberöd, aiming to create local conditions for development and market the village both locally and externally. Its work is overseen by an elected board.

What was the local journey?

  • The starting point of this initiative was the desire of Byutveckling AB to turn Veberöd into a research village for smart and sustainable local rural development, based on the idea of applying the smart city concept to a more rural context.
  • One of the early ideas was to use digital tools to visualise different solutions in building-permit processes at the municipality. It was recognised that it is usually difficult to understand the likely impact of a new building, and a digital visualisation tool was considered a potentially helpful tool.
  • In 2017, a collaboration started with a company to build a digital twin of the village.
  • Some local politicians saw the clear use of this, and the region of Skåne decided to put in some funding towards a test platform, that later became the 3D model.
  • They also engaged local businesses and individuals to contribute to the project through a sponsorship. Individuals were asked to contribute 50 EUR a year, while companies give between 200 and 1200 EUR per year.
  • Making the digital twin needed a lot of images made by drones, and computer power, for the 3D modelling.
  • The solution also involved placing several sensors – for example of traffic flow and water use - to give different kinds of live input. For the sensors to communicate, there is an open source radio mast and a platform for sharing data called ´Yggio´. This can be solved in different ways depending on the local need.
  • Added to this, is a ‘Smart visualiser’, with possibility of running a visual interface via a web browser.
  • Research projects are able to insert their own sensors in the village. Then they can follow their projects virtually and at the same time contribute research findings to everyone. If a researcher wants to research something specific within the village, they can do this via an annual fee where they can monitor their sensors via the digital twin, rather than just in the field.
  • Live data with buses is about to be introduced to the model in a collaboration with Lund University.

What have been the main outputs & results?

  • The solution has provided new location-specific data which can be analysed – for example to understand how and when different areas of the village are used. On this basis, walkways are lit up when people are typically using them, and turned off when not normally in use, which saves energy.

The digital twin of the village can be used in many ways, particularly from a research perspective. Several different aspects have been tested within Veberöds digital twin, with the help of sensors and analyzation:

  • The digital twin has allowed for modelling of changes to the village, such as adding or removing buildings or other structures. The model immediately helps creating an understanding of shapes, volumes and heights of new buildings for instance and their impact on their surroundings.
  • Internet-connected water barrels for cows, saves work for farmers and promotes animal welfare
  • Smart trees, measurement of the need for water for the trees, helps save water
  • Smart bikes, monitoring parking, helps prevent theft and also gives useful information about how bikes are used as a means of transportation
  • Tests of medicine deliveries by drones, in order to help accessibility of medicines in the countryside, where the nearest pharmacy can be far away
  • Water quality, can be monitored downstream to find potential problems along the waterway

Byutveckling AB ensures that the projects set up within the 3D village are aligned with the UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable development goals.

What does it bring the village/community?

  • This and other collected knowledge can give detailed information about how to develop the village in a more strategic way.
  • The main interest for the villagers is improving sustainability and resilience. This a focus in the plans for expanding the village from 5000 to about 8000 inhabitants until 2040.
  • One of the future visions is to use artificial intelligence (AI) to map water consumption or traffic intensity against the ´happiness´ of people to spot trends which might otherwise be missed.

What’s needed

Financial resources

Main types of cost:
Financial needs:

Set up / Investment costs: 50 000 EUR

Main costs are:

• Computing power and programmes to model village

• Taking drone footage

• Installing sensors

Ongoing costs: Smart visualiser (web access to 3D model) 5 000 EUR and up/year approximately

1000 EUR extra for having sensors up and running

On top of this there are costs for administrating the sensors/change batteries/further development. The model can be expanded in various ways and for various uses, which means this very much depends on the specific context.

Funding received:
Private50,000 €Setting up the digital twin
University5,000 €Annual contribution. This is how research projects are run within the digital twin at the moment, Fee in per Partner/Per year and researcher, if a researcher wants to research something specific within the village, they can do this via an annual fee where they can monitor their sensors via the digital twin, rather than just in the field.
Supporting companies700 €Between 200 and 1200 per year, per company, sponsorship of further development
Villagers50 €Per year, per villager, sponsorship of further development

Human resources

• IT skills (can be obtained via specialists)

• Engaged villagers willing to contribute to develop their village

• A municipality, university and/or local companies or organisations that see specific needs that would be benefitting from 3D visualisation.

• Technical teams to install and manage sensors

Physical resources

• Drones to map the village, GIS data or combinations.

• Sensors to be located at different places in the village if specific things are to be measured

• Significant computer power to run the 3D model, but simpler interfaces can be created and run over the internet via a web browser or a simpler downloaded 3D computer programme.

What to do…

  • Collaboration is key.
  • Depending on what it will be used for, there are different ways of developing a digital twin or use sensors.
  • Learn from others - the wheel is already invented. Keep a lookout for other solutions, elsewhere.
  • Contact Veberöd.
  • Be transparent with the findings and data created. Sharing data and findings between villages is important since not all villages have to measure the same things. This will promote new collaborations in the long run.
  • Open source solutions should prevent villages to be locked into specific software solutions that inhibits collaboration.

and not to do

  • Don´t fall into the trap of locking yourself into your own solutions, both technical and conceptual.

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