Freight logistics - an overlooked key to urban transformation (and the European effort to get it right)

Wed, 2013-09-18 06:06 -- Jesse Berst

smart transportationI had my consciousness raised a couple months back after several conversations with the research head of a major freight delivery company. He helped me understand how important freight logistics is to the business health of a city, and to its transportation goals.

For one thing, poor logistics can hamper an area's business capacity. Here in the Pacific Northwest, for instance, several manufacturers have left or threatened to leave because of the difficulty of moving freight in and out of the Seattle area. By the same token, poor logistics can contribute to a region's congestion.

It's no secret that we have too many trucks running around from too many companies, duplicating effort and increasing emissions. For the past three years, the European Commission has been funding a research effort called CITYMOVE to find solutions. I urge you to visit the CITYMOVE web site to review the results so far. And an article posted on Phys.Org, which gives a quick summary of some of the most compelling ideas. They range from modular trucks to route planners to real-time parcel tracking that sends a text message to the recipient when the truck is getting close. -- Jesse Berst

As the Phys.Org article explains, the CITYMOVE team worked on a concept for a modular delivery vehicle more suitable for narrow, congested city streets than the big general-purpose trucks used today.

Working with CITYMOVE on the effort was CITYLOG, also funded by the EU. Its focus was logistics technologies to help reduce the number of delivery trucks needed in urban centers. For instance, it considered pre-trip planners that take into account traffic situations along delivery routes and navigation systems that redirect vehicles in real time to avoid traffic congestion.

There are many other interesting concepts worth reading about in the Phys.Org article.

Jesse Berst is the founding Chairman of the Smart Cities Council. Click to subscribe to SmartCitiesNow, the weekly newsletter highlighting smart city trends, technologies and techniques.