Letícia Marçal Russo

Urban Geography
Human-Emotional Agents in Urban Digital Twins for Healthy Cities (HEADS 4 Health) 01.09.2023 to 01.09.2024
General project description

Cities around the world are densifying. This puts pressure on urban public spaces, which are crucial for healthy cities as they contribute to peoples’ health and well-being. Urban planning practice strives to provide citizens with positive experiences in public spaces. As a design and decision-support tool for these authorities, urban-scale digital twins have emerged to test future urban-design scenarios. However, the status quo of urban-scale digital twins is full of 3D buildings, but lack humans. That is, they do not incorporate virtual citizens, i.e. software agents, that can intrinsically experience the digital environment and react to it, as real citizens would do. Incorporating agents in digital twins, would allow for testing how these citizens respond to possible urban design scenarios and how this affects their health and well-being. 

Therefore, our aim is two-fold: (i) to devise an agent architecture of intelligent and emotional citizens who can experience the city and articulate their sense of wellbeing in a digital twin, (ii) to form an interdisciplinary research community to tackle this.

An “agent architecture” is a term from computer science for a blueprint of software agents, depicting the arrangement of agent states and behaviors relevant to the setting the agent will be placed in (d’Inverno & Luck, 2004). It serves as the starting point for a modeler/software engineer to implement agents, in a simulation model or digital twin. The term “experience” refers to the mental changes that occur when humans engage in a situation that provides physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual values, an important indicator of citizens’ health and subjective wellbeing (Dane, Borgers, & Feng, 2019; Pine & Gilmore, 1998; Weijs-Perrée et al., 2019). Momentary experiences are the on-site and real-time experiences, the interaction process between the agent and its physical and social environment triggering emotional changes. We will focus on stress reactions/reductions because a relation with the environmental setting is established. The spatial extent of the digital twin are Pedestrian-Priority Spaces (PPS), as these are public spaces for citizens of all ages and abilities that invite them to stay and spend time, providing ample momentary experiences and opportunities for social interaction. 

Other EWUU Alliance
External project members
  • Gamze Dane (TU/e)
  • Theo Arentze (TU/e)
  • Arend Ligtenberg (WUR)