Digital Twins and 3D Mapping for Sustainable Urban Resource Management

In India, urban centres are grappling with significant environmental challenges, including the reduction of green spaces. For instance, Mumbai experienced a decrease of approximately 20% in its green cover between 1988 and 2018.[1]

This trend is evident across many Indian cities, highlighting the urgent need for effective management of natural resources in urban environments as cities continue to grow. The scarcity of green spaces, high carbon emissions and the urban heat island effect make it necessary to develop innovative and sustainable solutions.

Digital Twins of Indian cities are being created by Genesys using LiDAR technology and aerial imagery, offering precise and dynamic virtual representations of urban areas thereby facilitating to do meaningful analysis of the city environment. LiDAR employs laser pulses to measure distances and detect shapes, creating the foundational structure of a Digital Twin, while imagery provides realistic appearances of structures and objects. These tools facilitate detailed analysis, real-time monitoring and scenario simulations, optimizing nature-based solutions and urban planning.

By harnessing these advanced technologies, cities can develop more resilient urban environments capable of effectively addressing global climate change. Genesys’ 3D data and reality models are already demonstrating their capabilities in carbon sequestration and rooftop solar applications. Additionally, their potential to mitigate the urban heat island effect is an emerging field, particularly relevant in the Indian context where cities are experiencing unprecedented high temperatures.

Mapping and Quantifying Carbon Sequestration

Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Trees are vital natural resources in urban areas that perform this essential environmental function, along with air purification and temperature regulation. At the core of this Digital Twin-based tree management system would be a comprehensive database of surveyed trees, mapped with data on species, size, and health. This detailed mapping allows for precise estimation of each tree’s carbon sequestration potential, enabling planners to understand the carbon sink capacity of existing vegetation.

By aggregating this data, cities can assess carbon sequestration potential over wider areas, while identifying critical zones where additional greening efforts would yield significant benefits. Furthermore, regularly updated Digital Twins can enhance the accuracy of carbon accounting in cities, allowing for more reliable reporting towards climate change programs such as the Climate-Smart Cities Assessment Framework (CSCAF). Figure 1 below shows how trees can be mapped on Genesys’ Digital Twin platform, with data on species and tools like buffer analysis to estimate carbon sequestration capacity within a selected area.

Fig. 1 Carbon sequestration analysis with Genesys’ Digital Twin

Digital Twins also support the strategic planning of new green spaces. By simulating different tree-planting scenarios, planners can optimize the placement of trees and parks to maximize their carbon sequestration impact. Leveraging Digital Twins for urban tree management enhances the benefits offered by trees through precise monitoring, management, and optimization of green spaces to maximize their environmental impact. This technology can also be used to facilitate nature-based solutions to mitigate excessive urban heat.

Combating the Urban Heat Island Phenomenon

Urban Heat Islands (UHIs) are urban areas that experience significantly higher temperatures due to human activities, concentrated infrastructure, and heat-absorbing surfaces. Cities are accumulating more heat every year, with Delhi recently measuring a record high temperature of 52.9°C.[2]

Nature-based solutions offer some of the best means to combat this phenomenon; trees are known to have a cooling effect in cities by releasing moisture through transpiration, providing shade, and reducing heat absorption by roads. The need for increasing green cover is also emphasized by guidelines put forth in the AMRUT 2.0 scheme.Efforts towards urban greening in this regard can be optimized with the use of Digital Twins and 3D mapping technologies.

To begin with, Digital Twins enable the precise identification of heat hotspots by integrating high-resolution spatial data with thermal imaging, and IoT sensors placed around an urban area. This allows planners to pinpoint areas with elevated temperatures to target tree-planting efforts more effectively. These interventions can be monitored by analysing tree canopies’ effects on local temperatures. With simulations and scenario modelling, planners can also test strategies like tree-planting, rooftop greening, and using reflective surfaces.

Once strategies are implemented, Digital Twins can provide real-time monitoring of microclimates within the city. This continuous data collection allows for the evaluation of different interventions’ effectiveness, ensuring that mitigation efforts are adaptive and responsive to changing conditions. Moreover, cities can also leverage rooftops and excessive sunshine by using Digital Twins to maximise capture of solar energy.

Optimizing Rooftop Solar Installation

As cities strive to meet their energy requirements in a warming and increasingly polluted world, solar energy has emerged as a promising, emission-free solution. While large solar farms in and around cities are impractical, the untapped solar potential of building rooftops can be capitalized on, and Digital Twins can prove to be a vital tool for enhancing the decentralized adoption of solar technologies.

Fig. 2 Temporal changes of shadows at 12:35pm (L) and 04:00pm IST (R)

Firstly, Digital Twins can be used to conduct suitability analyses based on roof area measurements, annual sunlight exposure simulations and shadow analyses. Figure 2 shows how shadows can be simulated with Genesys’ Digital Twin technology, for any given date and time. Figure 3 shows the roof area measurement functionality.

Fig. 3 Roof area measurement with Genesys’ Digital Twin

These insights can identify with a high degree of accuracy, optimum sites and rooftops for solar installations. Moreover, angles and orientations of panel placement can be further optimized to maximize energy yield. Based on these parameters, another insight that can be drawn by employing Digital Twins is energy yield estimation, including annual seasonal trends, allowing us to accurately quantify solar potential of each building and understand how energy yields change over the year. From a private sector perspective, electricity distributors could integrate advanced solar calculators into their platforms, reducing site visits and providing accurate estimates to customers.

From a policy perspective, these insights could support the creation of regional ‘solar maps’ to evaluate solar potential across larger areas. Digital Twins can form the basis of interactive platforms for utility companies, property owners, and consumers to estimate solar potential across cities. Beyond those mentioned above, some other personalized insights that can be drawn are cost estimates on electricity savings, carbon emission reduction, subsidy calculations, solar installation costs and payback periods. Increasing accessibility of widespread self-assessment of solar potential can improve adoption of solar energy solutions by allowing for more decentralized adoption and informed decision-making.


Genesys is at the forefront of developing Digital Twins in India, providing cutting-edge solutions for urban carbon sequestration, combating urban heat islands, and optimizing rooftop solar. Through its 3D Content Program, Genesys offers datasets and its Platform that align with the objectives and priorities set by the Prime Minister and Government of India to enhance green cover in cities. Genesys’ Digital Twin solutions offer significant benefits to government agencies, such as forest departments, pollution control boards and urban local bodies. By harnessing our data and expertise, these organisations can effectively manage natural resources, improve urban sustainability and create resilient cities for the future. As leaders in geospatial solutions, we are committed to driving innovation and supporting India’s vision for greener, cooler, and smarter urban environments.

[1] Shahfahad, Rihan, M., Naikoo, M.W., Ali, M.A., Usmani, T.M., and Rahman, A. Urban Heat Island Dynamics in Response to Land-Use/Land-Cover Change in the Coastal City of Mumbai. Journal of the Indian Society of Remote Sensing 49, 2227–2247 (2021).

[2] Kumar, Abhijeet. “Delhi’s 52.9 to Iran’s 66 Degree: Heatwaves Are Breaking Records Globally.” Business Standard, 30 May 2024,

Leave a Comment