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The power of the kerb

When we think of smart cities we picture delivery drones and autonomous vehicles; maybe even a flying car. But at Grid, we are looking to create real world benefits now - benefits that include making people healthier, live longer, safer and work and travel more efficiently, says Dom Hyams, Communications and Digital Director, Grid Smarter Cities

Dom Hyams
17 September 2019

 

We may not have flying cars whizzing over our heads just yet, but things have changed rapidly in our city centres. With more people migrating to cities, and technology evolving at record pace, our behaviours are changing, as is the way we live and work in our cities. We have an app for everything, our desires can be met instantaneously and we choose convenience over almost anything else - most noticeable with our increased appetite for private hire vehicles; making owning vehicles in cities more and more unusual.

Grid Smarter Cities will be exhibiting at Smarter Tomorrow

By 2050 it is estimated that 70 per cent of the population are going to live and work in cities, creating additional pressures on our city infrastructure that will struggle to modernise, adapt and keep up with this ferocious innovation. The ways cities have historically been planned, organised and serviced by transport networks is now often deemed ‘not fit for purpose’, and we have to look elsewhere for the innovations that are able to help us adapt so we can operate more efficiently.

A seemingly unlikely place of focus to help us make this change? The kerbside.

'Virtual loading bays’ give drivers the opportunity to locate and book a suitable bay to load and unload in closer proximity to their final delivery point, reducing their impact on congestion, and saving them time and fuel 

Our cities are finding it hard to keep up with the existing demands placed on our kerbside. With more online deliveries, building development and ride hailing app choices than ever, congestion is on the rise and, as a result, so is the need to better manage the kerb space.

With the average driver in London spending 227 hours per year in traffic, and congestion costing the UK economy ?7.9 billion in 2018, the business case for local authorities to address these issues couldn’t be clearer.

We’re looking to utilise our patented Intelligent Kerbside Management solution, aptly named ‘Kerb’, to allow commercial vehicles the ability to book a specific time slot on a piece of previously restricted kerb space. These are called ‘virtual loading bays’, and gives drivers the opportunity to locate and book a suitable bay to load and unload in closer proximity to their final delivery point, reducing their impact on congestion, and saving them time and fuel often wasted whilst trying to locate a legal parking spot, all without the risk of receiving a parking ticket.

Addressing air quality

Simultaneously, as well as developing our solution to meet the demands of the city, we have to be mindful to respect citizens, and create a cleaner and greener environment.

Local authorities are now being seen to commit to measures in Air Quality Action Plans and Strategies, including the use of Virtual Loading Bays as we understand more about the effects of pollution on people’s health, and how vehicle emissions contribute towards that. 12.5 per cent of London’s air now exceeds the EU pollution limits, and more worryingly, 9,000 premature deaths per year can be attributed to air pollution in London alone. With such stark numbers becoming more widely accepted as fact, the option of doing nothing is quite simply unacceptable. In recent months, Grid has been working hard to demonstrate the benefits of Kerb across numerous deployments and pilot projects.

In Dublin, Grid is now in Phase 2 of the Smart Dublin and Enterprise Ireland’s SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) program to support Last Mile delivery in partnership with Dublin City Council and Belfast City Council.

Grid Smarter Cities have been working with Dublin City Council to better understand and analyse potential use-cases for Kerb in the city centre, with phase two now looking to work in a live environment with delivery operators to trial the solution over the coming months.

The ambition in Dublin is to demonstrate the benefits of the solution for all stakeholders, and lay the foundation for how the solution can be scaled across further locations in Dublin, Belfast and beyond.

The challenges faced by a city like Dublin are not unique, with high levels of congestion, pollution and limited kerb space affecting almost every city the world over. The possible applications of how such a kerbside solution could be used are numerous though, with the construction industry also being of particular focus for Grid moving forward, as there are currently very few mechanisms in place to efficiently manage freight vehicles on construction sites, as well as their movement to and from site. We’re looking to make freight deliveries more timely, construction projects run more efficiently and reduce congestion and circling traffic in the nearby area. As our cities expand, and populations gravitate towards them, it becomes evident how valuable the management of our construction related traffic becomes, as construction is not stopping anytime soon!

Grid have engaged with various London boroughs to demonstrate the value of Kerb in this sector, with live deployments expected throughout 2020 - so keep your eyes peeled!

Our cities are finding it hard to keep up with the existing demands placed on our kerbside. With more online deliveries, building development and ride hailing app choices than ever, congestion is on the rise and, as a result, so is the need to better manage the kerb space.

About GRID

Founded in 2014, Grid Smarter Cities is a two-sided platform company of smart technology, looking to create win-win solutions to solve problems in our cities, improving the quality of life for citizens, making them happier, safer and most cost effective places to be. We want to improve air quality and reduce congestion by better managing the kerb space, using our Intelligent Kerbside Management solution, ‘Kerb’. We hope this will have a positive impact on the environment, reduce mileage and improve air quality – and in turn increase life expectancy for a safer urban environment.

For more information contact [email protected] or go to gridsmartercities.com

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