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Last Mile Delivery (Urban Delivery Systems)

On this page you will find lessons learnt that are distilled from various workshops that the SCIS team attended. The most important points are summarised, giving a quick overview of the challenges / barriers but also solutions with regard to each topic.
Last Mile Delivery (Urban Delivery System)
Lesson identified at: 

The Smart Cities information system published a Solution Booklet on Urban Freight Logistics, a topic which is very much related to the subject of Last Mile Delivery. Have a look in the Solution Booklet to find more inspiration.


While working on last mile delivery, people in charge may be confronted with a lack of interest of key actors (e.g. e-commerce) and local players. It also proofs to be challenging to define successful business models, due to the fierce competition with existing delivery services, and to identify a successful financial model. Moreover, legal aspects are time consuming to solve (e.g. finding permission to build certain infrastructure that is required on public/private grounds). And finally, implementing a clear division of responsibilities between public and private partners to operate the last mile delivery services can be challenging.


Improving procedures and implying traffic restrictions in certain areas to make them only accessible for green vehicles are steps that could be taken at a political level. Through information campaigns, citizens can be encouraged to use the service. To create experiences for customers, it is advisable to use apps and easy to use interfaces. (Have a look at our Citizen Engagement page to find related information.)

Further suggestions include scaling up by uniting different players from the transport sector around a common identity and around a community. Moreover, knowledge should be shared between different smart city projects. Cities should also continue setting-up pilot projects, in order to acquire more insights in how to build/design shared district boxes[1] and the business model behind them. The location of the boxes is probably key to their success: they should be easily accessible and preferably close to mobility hubs.

Plan for Implementation: next steps

Project leaders should find sustainable business models to make the solution financially independent and should evaluate the sustainability of the proposed solution. It is also advisable to identify synergies between renewable energy production and consumption and the last mile delivery solutions. Also consider integrating the urban delivery system in the city’s next strategic plan. The USP (Unique Selling Point) of the Shared District Boxes should be highlighted to citizens (e.g. key shared via app; secure system; multiple functions; etc.). Finally, piloting the new services should start already from the basic prototype model.


[1] Shared District Boxes: places were the goods are delivered and picked up. It can be used by online shops, but also by citizens as a locker or for sharing objects within the community (and thus creating a “neighborhood market place”). It can contain specific compartments with adapted thermal conditions (e.g. chilled or frozen). The biggest challenges when installing Shared District Boxes are identified to be finding the right locations, making legal agreements with both public and private entities and the tendering process (see also the dedicated page on Innovative Procurement of Smart City Solutions).