TNO establishes first North American office in San Diego a year after Trade Mission
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TNO is the Dutch government’s premier applied science research organization, tasked with developing and deploying solutions to complex societal challenges. During WTCSD’s 2022 trade mission to the Netherlands, TNO introduced the San Diego delegation to its revolutionary Urban Strategy platform, which—through ultra-fast computing power and the ability to iterate development scenarios analyzing extraordinary volumes of data in real-time—promises to transform the discussion around infrastructure, transportation, and housing development, guiding us toward a more data-driven and informed decision-making process.
For TNO’s Urban Strategy—or Digital Twin—to work in a city or region, institutional buy-in from government regulators, transportation planning officials, and academia is essential. Even with these links established, TNO must work with local experts to calibrate assumptions to ensure accuracy of the tool’s findings. This necessitates a relationship with a well-connected partner that is deeply embedded into the regional economic development ecosystem.
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As a key facet of trade mission programming, WTCSD worked closely with the Consulate of the Netherlands to host a meeting and demo at TNO’s headquarters. Delegates in attendance included both the chair and vice chair of SANDAG (San Diego County’s regional transportation planning authority), key leaders from the City of San Diego, Port of San Diego, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, UC San Diego, San Diego State University, and dozens more.
Inspiring regional interest in using TNO’s Urban Strategy in San Diego and building on momentum from the trade mission, WTCSD and EDC spent the following year convening working groups with key individuals from the City of San Diego and SANDAG’s data science teams, while tailoring the requirements for TNO’s tool to address San Diego’s unique needs. This work has resulted in a formal agreement for TNO to locate its first North American employee at SANDAG in pursuit of a San Diego proof-of-concept of Urban Strategy.
A regional digital twin based on TNO’s Urban Strategy platform will expedite the impact assessment of major developments in San Diego to inform strategic decisions on land-use, transportation, housing, and infrastructure investments. The project will complement EDC’s San Diego Investment Map and contribute to the 2030 Inclusive Growth goals, particularly the goal of increasing the number of thriving households in the region.
In fall 2023, agreements signed between EDC, TNO, and SANDAG formalized a collaborative effort to develop the San Diego Digital Twin proof-of-concept. Each organization has dedicated project staff assigned to the proof-of-concept, with EDC acting as the fiduciary and project manager, TNO leading as domain expert and developer, and SANDAG acting as the primary technical support lead.
The proof-of-concept will be completed in Q1 2024. Next steps will include calibration of the proof-of-concept to ensure data validation, the creation of a roadmap for key regional use-cases, and collaboration with key partners to deploy and maintain the platform.
“The 2022 trade mission led by World Trade Center San Diego was instrumental in connecting us to key decision-makers, providing context on regional economic imperatives, and paving the way for us to develop Urban Strategy in the U.S. This will enable the region to harness the power of our sophisticated and renowned urban planning platform.”
– Peter van Oorschot, Director, North America, TNO Mobility & Built Environment
“We have been proud to have two SANDAG board chairs join WTCSD’s trade missions, which prioritize elevating San Diego’s global identity and bringing best practices and innovation back home. Together with EDC/WTCSD and Netherlands-based TNO, SANDAG stands ready to offer technical support and local expertise to maximize this data-driven initiative.”
– Dr. Cynthia Burke, Senior Director of Data Science, SANDAG