The Fourth Industrial revolution, also known as 4IR or Industry 4.0, is transforming cities into hyperlocal communities where technological innovations like Internet of Things (IoT), 5G wireless technologies, cloud computing, autonomous technologies, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and 3D visualization have brought about personalization in services in all walks of life: health, transportation, community services, utilities, communications, energy, environment, and security.

Digital cities collect and analyze massive amounts of data to make better decisions in order to drastically improve the quality of urban life. This entails the development of a digital ecosystem that can manage and visualize geospatial information in a user-friendly environment to improve the efficiency of complex urban systems. Such geospatial information comprises the built environment (buildings, transportation network, utilities infrastructure and public spaces), the natural environment (green spaces, air and water quality, biodiversity), and urban services (water, energy, health, education, transport, waste disposal, emergency management, governance etc.). But creating a digital city is not just about investing in data collection or digitally transforming traditional infrastructure or streamlining city services but working towards finding equitable and optimal solutions to everyday problems. A robust public-private partnership model will ensure community participation in decision making at every level of governance as well as create long-term investment opportunities.

Over the past decade, and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic (which exposed the vulnerability of our existing systems), the importance of a connected built environment has grown manifold. Building sustainable and resilient infrastructure is the need of the hour. Advancements in the digital ecosystem will amount to nothing if the physical infrastructure cannot sustain the growing population and adapt to social, economic, and environmental threats posed by climate change.

The digitalization of the built environment, that is, the integration of physical assets and advanced 4IR digital technologies, ensures that infrastructure projects can no longer be planned, designed, and constructed in isolation. As information-based modeling, new material design, spatial planning, and integrated design solutions are expected to be developed at multiple levels of the built environment, the integration of geospatial technologies with BIM will become increasingly common. In fact, GIS and allied geospatial technologies along with BIM are the foundation of many infrastructure projects around the world. This is because digitalization offers numerous benefits across the lifecycle of a project—managing complex information including real-time data; improved planning and decision-making; transparency, accuracy, and accountability; optimization of resources; lower construction time and costs; end-user involvement in decision making; early clash detection; and increased safety.

Companies (and cities alike) are realizing that to ensure longevity and profitability, they must adapt to new and emerging digital technologies. This requires a paradigm shift in practices-where the emphasis is on value creation rather than cost, and long-term goals are prioritized over short-term (project) objectives. With increasing collaboration for innovation across multiple levels and sectors, sustainable infrastructure can be developed to cater to the needs of present and future generations.