Logistics in the smart city: How does it work?

February 25, 2021

The buzz word “smart city” has been around for decades. However, a lot of people don’t really know what this term means. So, what is a smart city, exactly? And why is it important for a mobility and logistics company such as Infinium Logistics Solutions?

What is a smart city?

According to the British Standards Institute, a smart city is “the effective integration of physical, digital, and human systems in the built environment to deliver sustainable, prosperous and inclusive. future for its citizens”. This relatively wide definition gives an important hint: There is no single perfect smart city. On the contrary, many cities already have some elements of smartness to them, such as digital sensors to measure air quality or the option to participate in polls online.

These are some key elements of a smart city, which ideally become interconnected virtually and physically:

architecture, buildings, business

Why smart cities?

Behind the idea of a smart city, there are many strong political, social and economic interests. In order to tackle climate change, improved urban environments are key, as described in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal and the Paris Agreement.

At the same time, a smart city is supposed to be more accessible for everyone, granting a Right to the City that builds on the ideals of the internet, such as equality and accessibility. Cities are seen not just as a place to live and work, but as your home that you can co-create.

Large companies have jumped on board with this idea, combining profitable virtual solutions with Corporate Social Responsibility and other efforts to become more sustainable.

Which cities are smart already?

In the UK, there are a lot of smart cities. They each have different features. Importantly, smart city systems cannot be implemented in a quick and all-encompassing manner since British towns and cities have their existing infrastructure. Whereas pilot projects like Masdar city in the United Arab Emirates were built from scratch and therefore include all kinds of smart infrastructure, from automated windows to a park of solar panels, in the UK, urban development happens much more organically and slowly.

Business Chief ranks the following five cities as the UK’s smart cities:

– London: The capital has often been recognised as an international leader when it comes to the Congestion Charge, low-carbon transport programmes, the use of local resources, the retrofitting of an ageing building stock, and the use of open data.

– Bristol: Here, innovations for the city and its communities play a big role. The project “Bristol Is Open” treats the whole city as a laboratory for urban innovation. Community engagement, playable streets and open data access are key ingredients for this project.

– Birmingham: In Birmingham, the cooperation of different stakeholders is key. Establishing a digital infrastructure as well as modern information sharing platforms are some of the topics that the city is currently working on. Innovation in areas such as the Internet of Things, community engagement and healthy ageing are particularly interesting.

– Glasgow: With the Future Cities Demonstrator, the city has built a unique strategy that leans heavily on data and research. For example, the city is now using smart streetlights that save energy, and has collected invaluable data on how to make the city friendlier for cyclists and pedestrians.

– Manchester: Manchester is another smart city in the UK that focuses on digitalisation. New forms of local governance and innovative urban technologies are being tested here. Private sector partners such as Siemens help set the tone.

Globally, IMD’s smart city index ranks Singapore, Helsinki, and Zurich among the world’s smartest cities. With its “100 Smart Cities” programme, launched in 2015, India is also a leading implementors of intelligent urban environments.

How do smart cities and logistics go together?

Parcel Lockers in Urban Area

The reduction of a city’s ecological footprint is one of the main ideas behind the smart city concept. With heat, electricity, construction, and mobility as the key polluters, it is crucial to find CO2-friendly solutions. In addition, efficiency and sustainability are key points where logistics and smart cities can work together to achieve mutual benefits.

At Infinium Logistics Solutions, we specialise in environmentally friendly logistics that work in cities of all kinds of sizes. Rather than coming in with a one-size-fits-all approach, we are always on the search for innovative and context-sensitive solutions that benefit the environment as well as local communities.

By bringing together mobility and logistics companies with unused spaces, housing associations and regeneration projects, we create win-win-win solutions in the spirit of a smart city.

For example, an urban logistics hub is a valuable resource for a community, reduces final mile CO2 emissions and offers an opportunity to use a neglected space in the city. Intelligently designed parking spaces help to reduce CO2 emissions of cars, offer charging points for modern electric vehicles, and can even be combined with an out of home delivery system, which users can simply control through their smart phones.

From robotic deliveries to cargo bikes, ILS is looking for solutions that go hand in hand with organically grown urban environments. All the while, our passion is to offer the best solutions for our clients and for the consumers, who in the end profit from a concept such as the 15-minute-city, where everything they need is easily reached within 15 minutes walking or cycling.

Are you curious to learn more about how we can help your company become a part of the smart city ecosystem? Get in touch with us here!

And stay tuned for the four upcoming parts of this series on smart cities:

– Smart Parking
– Urban Logistics Hubs in the Smart City
– Out of Home Delivery in the Smart City
– Electric Vehicles in the Smart City

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