Challenges of urban digital twins: A systematic review and a Delphi expert survey

Binyu Lei, Patrick Janssen, Jantien Stoter, Filip Biljecki*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
212 Downloads (Pure)


Many challenges to operate digital twins remain, hindering their design and implementation, and are rarely discussed. Furthermore, issues of social and legal nature are often overlooked. We identify the challenges of operating digital twins in the urban context through a bifurcated and multi-dimensional approach: a systematic literature review and an expert survey. The review organises the identified challenges across technical and non-technical dimensions. As the topic is novel, the corpus is rather small and lacking the contextualisation of challenges. Thus, we complement it with a survey based on the Delphi method, involving a diverse panel of domain experts covering academia, industry and government organisations. Combining the results, we identify 14 technical and 9 non-technical challenges and map them to phases of the digital twin's life cycle. The most severe challenges appear to be related to interoperability (e.g. disparate semantic standards) and practical value (e.g. lack of business models).

Original languageEnglish
Article number104716
Number of pages15
JournalAutomation in Construction
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • 3D city model
  • City information model
  • Simulations
  • Urban planning
  • Virtual replica


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