Skip to main content

xD Twin Unites Urban Planning Disciplines with Cesium

In urban planning, managing projects across disciplines, interest groups, and data sources and formats can slow development, increase cost, and introduce confusion. xD Visuals’ xD Twin is a digital twin for the built environment, combining urban disciplines into one project information model with 3D visualization in CesiumJS for collaboration, coordination, communication, analysis, and simulation by project teams, stakeholders, decision-makers, and citizens.

Project information model showing areas of development in a city, including roads, buildings, and landscaping.

Teams can collaborate on large-scale projects or a single element. Courtesy xD Visuals.

 With xD Twin, architects and engineers working on buildings, roads, rails, tunnels, landscaping, and utility networks can bring their designs together and manage projects on any scale and with any amount of data.

In a web browser on any device, xD Twin can be used to monitor and coordinate entire projects, from planning, design, and construction through maintenance and operations. The app includes 4D scheduling to show construction sequences over time. Time becomes especially important because existing and future models are combined, showing how cities develop over the years.

4D scheduling in xD Twin. Courtesy xD Visuals.

In xD Twin, users can not only see 3D structures above ground, but they can also go underground to see pipes or a manhole, for example, and examine those attributes, or get information on the materials that make up a road. Even trees become BIM objects with information pertinent to the species and project elements: how close are they to buildings? When are they likely to reach a certain height? How should their roots be managed?

3D model of development showing buildings, roads, and vegetation.

xD Twin combines urban disciplines and enables transparent, efficient workflows. Courtesy xD Visuals.

Because xD Twin uses Cesium, it shows a project in its exact location on Earth and with accurate surroundings instead of empty space. This context can aid all members of a project team as well as the public. xD Twin also offers AR, so a planner or citizen can take their smartphone outside to see a proposed building in the right spot with CesiumJS.

See how a proposed project would appear in real life with xD Twin’s AR mode. Courtesy xD Visuals.

In presenting this single integrative tool, xD Twin combines BIM and GIS, making use of CAD files, survey data, photogrammetry, point clouds, documents, and more. xD Twin also accesses Bing Maps Aerial imagery, Cesium World Terrain, and Cesium OSM Buildings datasets in Cesium ion. These massive datasets are hosted in Cesium ion, tiled into 3D Tiles, and streamed to clients’ browsers using CesiumJS.

3D model using CityGML and point clouds. On the left is a tall, wide building with a green roof. In the middle is a waterway. On the right are ships.

Hybrid 3D city model using CityGML and point clouds in xD Twin. Courtesy xD Visuals.

“For a young startup like us, it has been a great help to use comprehensive and reliable open-source components like CesiumJS, which enables us to focus on developing value-producing tools for end users, not build everything from scratch,” said Jarkko Sireeni, xD Visuals CEO.

Finland-based xD Visuals has been using CesiumJS for xD Twin since its start, and xD Twin has won multiple international innovation competitions and awards, including WDBE’s “best use of open standards” category in 2022.

Among xD Twin’s customers are the City of Helsinki, Finland, and others across Europe and Asia. Helsinki, for example, has aircraft fly over the city every two years to do a laser scan and update its city model. xD Twin brings this information to projects and enables project managers and citizens to see projects in their current surroundings. xD Visuals has also used Cesium for Unreal to bring the Helsinki city model into Unreal Engine for use with VR headsets.

Presentation mode in xD Twin showing a highway. On the right is a comment pane for citizens to share their thoughts.

In xD Twin’s presentation mode, citizens can add their reactions and comments to proposed projects. Courtesy xD Visuals.

xD Twin uses Cesium to enhance collaboration and communication for both industry professionals and the public. To bring this coordination to your urban planning, sign up for a free Cesium ion account.