A digital recreation of Wellington which aims to educate people about climate change is one of 15 innovative initiatives to be awarded US$1 million in the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge.
Wellington is one of 15 cities worldwide to win the Challenge – a competition that recognises the boldest, most ambitious innovations to address issues like climate change, economic recovery from Covid-19, health and equality.
Wellington's innovation is a "Digital Twin" which will help to map the impacts of climate change on the city.
The Twin uses real-time data like terrain height, satellite imagery, and tidal patterns to recreate the city and surrounding areas using the Unreal Engine – a gaming engine that can create 3D photoreal visuals.
The map can inform those using it on how the city is growing at what impact climate change could have.
Users will be able to see how climate change will impact the places they live by using the Digital Twin to raise and lower the temperature and sea levels, and see how the landscape changes.
The team leader of digital innovation at Wellington City Council Julia Hamilton says climate adaptation planning is a complex task.
"As a coastal city that is highly exposed to climate-change impacts and with few options for relocating infrastructure, businesses and homes, it's critical we enable evidence-based climate adaptation decisions in the next two to three years to respond to the climate and ecological emergencies declared by Council."
Hamilton told the Herald they worked collaboratively with mana whenua, the council, residents, and Niwa to create the twin which helps to simplify the complexity of climate change.
It also works to help Niwa gather data on climate change as residents will be able to input their own experience - for example, to what extent water from rising sea levels are inundating their properties.
Wellington's entry was praised for using open source code, which means other coastal regions around the world can adopt the program and use it for their own cities.
The money will go towards the continued development of the Twin which will be set live between March and June next year.