Tallinn-Helsinki Dynamic Green Information Model

GreenTwins - FinEst Large Pilot - FinEst Centre for Smart Cities

Connecting built environment, green infrastructure and people by using digital twins.

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Project Lead

Prof. Fabian Dembski

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Project Lead

D.Sc. Aija Staffans

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Project Manager

Kristi Grišakov

Green spaces in cities are of particular importance in the face of ongoing urbanisation and anthropogenic climate change. Urban greenery affects the physical and mental health of citizens. It reduces the immediate effects of global warming such as heat islands and improves the thermal comfort of cities. In addition, plants have an impact on particulate emissions and the carbon balance. Finally, urban greenery is an important part of the cultural heritage and the identity of a city. 


In the framework of the FinEst Centre for Smart Cities, the GreenTwins project addresses the issue of urban greenery and how it can be better taken into account in planning processes for sustainable and more democratic cities. The focus is on urban digital twins: they can be used to enable comprehensive data exchange and can include models, simulations and algorithms that describe their real counterparts, their properties and behaviour in the real world. Digital twins have only arrived in urban planning in the last few years. The example of the digital replica of Singapore is certainly one of the best known. The cities of Tallinn and Helsinki are consistently building their digital twins to digitalise and optimise planning processes, while the national level digital twin of Estonia was presented just recently.

The modelling of natural environment in urban digital twins is so far underdeveloped compared to the built environment. Also, participatory and collaborative processes have been given little consideration in the application of digital twins. Yet these digital tools offer great opportunities. The GreenTwins project develops a dynamic layer of green infrastructure in the urban digital twins of Helsinki and Tallinn. Additionally, it creates three new user interfaces to urban digital twins to harness the potential of urban digital twins in advancing planning processes and democratic decision-making.

Accurate modelling of natural environment is essential for citizen participation, as non-professional stakeholders often do not have the necessary expertise or planning language background. Due to this barrier, many people are excluded from participatory processes or have problems interpreting professional planning representations correctly. 

This is where GreenTwins comes in and develops new approaches by an outstanding team of scientists and experts from the partner cities of Tallinn and Helsinki. A CityHUB will be co-developed as a built structure in Tallinn to serve citizens, planners, decision-makers, city administrators, businesses and researchers. Additionally, two applications will be developed in the project. The co-planning app provides additional information and the opportunity for citizens to directly participate in planning processes. The urban tempo simulation app supplements simulations and visualisations by enabling virtual spatial experience in the CityHUB but also on desktops.

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For the first time, the inventory of existing species and their characteristics will be included as a dynamic digital layer in digital twins. The focus is on the interplay between the built and natural environment, the change of plants over the seasons and over the years, and on the impacts of vegetation on our neighbourhoods and the cityscape, on urban space and microclimate, as well on our well-being. With the help of the visualisations and involvements, the complexity of urban planning can be reduced and more democratic participation and Citizen Science will be enabled and encouraged.


The GreenTwins project contributes to the development of participatory urban planning, which relates to one of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 11) provided by the United Nations. The ongoing development of urban digital twins is creating new opportunities for better citizen engagement and the improvement of democratic processes in the civic society.

The pilot project is 100% financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research.

Learn more about the project!

Research & Innovation Seminar "Smart Communicative City Planning"

Project Manager Kristi Grišakov's presentation is providing an overview of the benchmark and user research that has lead to the formation of the final HUB concept for the city of Tallinn.

Smart City Planning Hub (HUB), developed by GreenTwins project team, is a physical visualization and event space located in the city centre of Tallinn that will be opened in the spring of 2023. It will be equipped with advanced technology that aims to bring the main actors in urban development, such as citizens, planners, stakeholders, and municipalities, into collaboration and co-creation. GreenTwins

Postdoctoral researcher Pilvi Nummi presentation about the usefulness of new communicative planning tools 

Understanding users' needs and desires is essential for creating useful digital tools. The smart communicative planning support system can bring benefits to both citizens and urban planners. It can enhance stakeholders' interaction and knowledge-based debate in city planning, highlight the values and impacts of the green environment and foster citizen activism in many ways.

"Participatory Tool KIT for better stakeholders' engagement" by Viktorija Prilenska (TalTech)

Civic engagement is a common practice in contemporary urban development. The argument among academics and practitioners has transitioned from debates about the utility of engagement, to discussions about the best methods and tools for the purpose. Participatory Tool-KIT (https://participatory.tools) proposes 5 simple steps to draw your Public Participation Plan (PPP), which fosters transformation of citizens from passive critics to active co-creators of urban plans and policies. 

The essential part of the Tool-KIT is the collection of 32 methods from digital and analogue realms, which can be filtered by 9 categories, helping you to choose the most suitable methods for your needs. The ecosystem of tools developed within the GreenTwins project contributes to the collection, offering innovative digital tools for aiding participation and collaboration on various urban scales.

Listen FinEst Centre's Research & Innovations Seminars (RIS) about GreenTwins project: