Urban Freight Transportation – 2012

Innovation in Urban Freight Transportation

A Roundtable on the Current State of Research and Technology Application

January 30, 2012
Hart House, University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario

Table of Contents


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    Morning Panel: How innovation can be used to improve efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of urban freight movement.

    Shippers, carriers and policymakers have an interest in improving the efficiency of urban freight movement in our cities. Doing so can reduce costs for the shipper and carrier, while relieving congestion and reducing GHG emissions. The use of technology to manage traffic and provide information, as well as changing existing business practices, such as shifting deliveries to off peak hours, or introducing more strategically placed distribution centres, can reduce the variability of transit times and encourage more efficient use of our roads. More efficient routing can reduce transit time and conserve fuel.

    However, carriers are often constrained by the scheduling needs of shippers and retailers who have become accustomed to receiving goods at specific times of day. and may face labour issues or other obstacles to receiving deliveries off peak. In addition, reliance on just-in-time delivery, existing locations of distribution centres, land use and other issues may be obstacles or provide opportunities for more efficient movement of urban goods.

    Can increased communication between shippers, carriers and governments encourage the use of technology and innovative business practices to improve efficiency? What is the current state of research and what are considered industry best practices? Can we learn from innovations and progress that have been made elsewhere? Which cities or countries are the leaders in this regard? Is there a greater need for collaboration between municipal planners and industry when making infrastructure decisions? Is there a role for governments or other organizations to facilitate progress in this area?


    Moderator: Marc-André Roy, Vice President for North America, CPCS Transcom

    Afternoon Panel: Effective use of technology for Data collection, measurement and dissemination

    Technology can play a role in reducing congestion and encouraging more efficient use of our infrastructure. One way that it can do so is through data collection and dissemination, so road users can make alternate routing decisions, if possible. It can also provide data to shippers, carriers and governments in order to aide in the investment decision-making process, including land use, infrastructure, etc. Naturally, it can also play a role in the freight efficiency issue discussed in the morning panel.

    Are we making the best use of current technology to measure road congestion? Are there greater opportunities for sharing existing data? Can we better leverage vehicle tracking and trip logging technologies? What are the privacy concerns or other obstacles?

    Furthermore, what are the opportunities with respect to urban freight data? How can better knowledge of the origin, destination and nature of the freight data contribute to long term planning? Are there further gaps here that can be explored?


    Moderator: Clarence Woudsma, Director, School of Planning, University of Waterloo