Data-based models to improve urban freight deliveries and air quality

By 9 January 2019Scenario
Southamption; freight delivery; air quality

Taking the pressure off Cities’ road networks has undeniable beneficial effects on the environment and overall livability. Urban traffic is mostly due to private vehicles and people movements, but freight deliveries are increasingly burdening City mobility. How to match the intensified need for frequent deliveries to households, local businesses and large organisations, with the urgent demand for cleaner and less congested districts?

ITS International reports the interesting case of Southampton, one of the five most polluted Cities in UK according to the country’s Air Quality Plan. Local government launched a clean air strategy a couple of years ago, and a clean air zone is about to be introduced. This would require non-compliant vehicles, including trucks, to face penalties when entering the area, thus forcing freight operators to turn to smaller and possibly electric-powered vehicles for last-mile deliveries.

Moreover, the City piloted a study by national intelligent mobility centre, the Transport Systems Catapult (TSC), to assess current incoming flows of deliveries and identify potential consolidation measures. Results were particularly intriguing for the University Hospital Southampton (UHS), as the regional medical complex is receiving about 900 deliveries of all sizes each week. By closely monitoring schedules and movements, and applying appropriate data-based models, it came out that current freight logistics could be rationalised to reduce deliveries up to 60%.

TSC used the same data to monetise the impact of freight on City economics and society. Thanks to the suggested consolidation, UHS alone could save up to GBP 1 million by 2030, with relevant environmental benefits (as CO2, NOx and noise reduction) quantified in more than GBP 6,000, and wider social benefits including the reduction of stress and sick days for about GBP 69,000, the decrease of accidents for GBP 1.4 million, and improved journey times in Southampton area for about GBP 200,000.

Once more, the availability of accurate data proves to be the starting point to enable any strategic and evidence-based decision to make our Cities cleaner, safer, and more attractive.

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