Using augmented reality and precision data to enable the future smart city

The Challenge

Imagine the challenges associated with moving a city. This is the reality faced by Sweden’s northernmost city, the mining town of Kiruna. To enable the world’s largest municipal relocation, Kiruna required careful architecture of the new city and a thorough understanding of the current city infrastructure. However, for Kiruna and many cities, maps and blueprints of underground infrastructure, such as public pipes and cables, can be inaccurate, outdated, or unavailable. A lack of useful data can directly impact the ability to maintain and install underground infrastructure, leading to wasted excavation time and expensive damages with resulting service disruptions, traffic delays and detours, and considerable costs.

Our Solution

As part of a Kiruna Sustainability Center initiative, the city and CGI created a proof of concept for the “Hidden City.” Using GPS-enabled data sources and GIS data from the city, visualized through augmented reality (AR), the city was able to envision underground infrastructure. Using HoloLens glasses, the city could view underground pipes in three dimensions.

Extending the capabilities for the Hidden City

The city and CGI continue to extend Hidden City capabilities to enable more precise and proactive city planning and public works management. Since the original proof of concept, the team has extended the Hidden City concept to smartphone technology, offering great potential for increasing the speed and accuracy of city maintenance in the future.

The Success story

The Smart City of the future

The new technology developed as part of Hidden City is one component of Kiruna’s vision for the future. Kiruna seeks to become a model for the sustainable city. Given its unique subarctic climate, Kiruna is attractive for companies and organizations that wish to partner to test the limits of sustainability.

As explained by Mats Nilsson, Chief Executive Officer, Sustainability and Business Development, Technical Works, Kiruna Municipality, “When we use Kiruna’s urban transformation as a test bed for innovative and sustainable solutions, we not only create a new sustainability industry in Kiruna. Kirunaborna (residents) also get a smart and sustainable city to live and live in.”