Smart Mobility Strategy

For the Dutch municipality of Waalwijk, UNSense has developed a smart mobility strategy including four pilots projects (see below). Being an international distribution center for goods throughout Europe, midsized city of Waalwijk faces the challenges of serving as the backend to the ever expanding service economy in bigger cities.

 

Smart Move Waalwijk: small city as innovation district

UNSense believes that smaller cities – because of their less complex urban infrastructure – offer opportunities for testing and implementing new smart mobility and smart logistics solutions. To put themselves on the map as well as for bigger cities to learn from.

In Waalwijk, the local logistics industry compromises livability for residents, leaving in its wake congested traffic, big boxes in the landscape, and a mostly vacant high street. To address these challenges, UNSense was commissioned by Waalwijk municipality to develop a series of prototypes which could become solutions to mobility challenges faced by other cities too. UNSense’s work explores how light infrastructural insertions could make the city more livable for residents, whilst also functioning as an innovation zone for local companies, in particular its biggest tenant bol.com.

“UNSense believes that small cities must be the innovation districts of a carbon-neutral economy”

Delivery Mile
The Four Prototypes:
1. Delivery Mile

Challenge

Last-mile delivery forms the most energy-intensive and environmentally demanding stage of e-commerce due to its unpredictability. Competition between platforms drives down delivery times and leads to congestion from half-filled vans that travel greater distances per delivery.

Prototype

Delivery drones powered by renewables offer a viable alternative to vehicles, but today cities lack the infrastructure to test them. A dedicated delivery corridor linking fulfilment center to city center would provide a contained route for drone navigation with designated pick-up points where residents collect their packages – an alternative to emissions-heavy home deliveries. In Waalwijk, the corridor would offer local companies a test strip, while generating footfall in a mostly vacant high street. It draws the industry out of big boxes to create moments of interaction between residents.

Robothaven
2. Robothaven

Challenge

As our global population grows and we move towards 2050 when 68% will live in cities, the need to integrate industrial productivity with residential land uses becomes urgent. But to date, logistics innovations like autonomous forms of transport are often hard to implement because they are incompatible with human activities.

Prototype

In Waalwijk, the development of a new industrial area with an adjacent port creates the opportunity to integrate automated processes with human activities by designing dedicated from scratch. Freight can be brought from port to warehouse by electric vehicles which platoon along a set route and by establishing a shared data platform, volume can be shared between companies, lowering congestion, while freeing up public space for recreation like parks, seating or play areas.

3. Nubus

Challenge

In suburban areas, population densities rarely achieve the critical mass necessary for a full public transport system. Waalwijk’s industrial area is a public transport ‘blindspot’ with commuters dependent on cars or buses arranged by their employers. In addition, online shopping behaviour creates unpredictable congestion patterns on the roads.

Prototype

An on-demand electric bus network which brings disparate datasets together—municipal traffic, employee working hours, user locations—to adapt routes and optimize passenger load versus waiting times. To achieve the Dutch target of sourcing 40% electricity from wind in 2030, Nubus provides the additional benefit of stabilizing renewable energy grids susceptible to peaks and troughs. By charging at night the buses act as batteries, storing electricity from excess production, to be then used to move people around the next day.

4. Dock-to-door

Challenge

In low density urban areas residents default to cars, even for short distances. Where green mobility infrastructure exists, it often doesn’t reach people’s homes. For example, Waalwijk has cycling lanes connecting to nearby cities, but the distances are too big to cycle comfortably.

Prototype

By sharing data between parties we can combine multiple modes of transport into ‘trip chains’ to establish a viable alternative to the car. A local mobility hub would allow users to switch between electric buses, bicycles, and scooters — prioritising shared, non-motorized modes wherever possible. The hubs form nodes within an otherwise mono-functional suburban fabric —conveniently positioned to consolidate delivery services at accessible points (click-and-collect lockers) that minimize the need for fragmented last-mile deliveries.