MHI Solutions

Sustainability

Smart City Logistics at the Crossroads of Emerging Collaborations

As traffic in cities increases, strategic urban logistics planning that leverages technology to combat congestion, noise and pollution will be key.

By Brian Reaves

Although still very much in its infancy, developments within Smart City Logistics continue to occur as municipalities, businesses and academia explore the ways connected technologies can help urban areas address the increasing challenges of congestion, noise and pollution associated with more frequent last mile deliveries to their growing populations.

But let’s back up a second. You might be wondering what exactly Smart City Logistics is, and why you should care. Don’t worry—you’re not alone in those sentiments. In developing MHI’s fourth Annual Industry Report, Thomas Boykin, leader of strategy and operations for Deloitte Consulting’s Supply Chain and Manufacturing Operations practice, discovered that 50 percent of the 1,100 manufacturing and supply chain industry leaders surveyed weren’t aware of Smart City Logistics either.

The 2016 Annual Industry Report (available as a free download at MHI.org) defines a Smart City as “an urban area that uses information to design policies and procedures that benefit its citizens.” It further describes Smart City Logistics as “the idea that logistics providers can leverage many innovations and technologies…to find solutions to this issue that work for government, businesses, consumers and the environment.”

“Although MHI has been ahead of the curve in highlighting Smart City Logistics—even devoting an entire section to it in the 2016 Annual Industry Report—awareness here in the U.S. is just not as widespread as in places like Europe and Asia, where space is much more confined,” Boykin notes.

MHI has focused on Smart City Logistics for three reasons:

  • The United Nations says 54 percent of the global population currently lives in urban areas, and by 2050 nearly 86 percent of developed countries’ populations—and 64 percent of developing countries’ populations—will too. Domestically, 65 percent of the current U.S. population lives in cities of more than 50,000 people.
  • The ranks of online shoppers grew by nearly 20 million people from 2015 to 2016, according to the National Retail Federation reports. E-commerce consumers are spending more and ordering more frequently online too.
  • In the U.S., goods transport via freight and delivery truck courier dominates 25 percent of urban road capacity.

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Emerging technologies such as IIoT, robotics and artificial intelligence provide exciting opportunities for supply chains. They also mean an exponential growth in the amount of data these supply chains generate. When properly utilized, this data can provide crucial information to improve efficiency, reduce costs, enhance transparency and customer service. But it comes with risk. The more digitized a supply chain becomes, the more it is at risk of cyberattack. Hackers are constantly finding new ways create data breaches they can exploit. The reality that most supply chains require third-party suppliers down the chain only heightens this threat. No matter the scale of your supply chain, it is essential to have solid cybersecurity processes in place to manage and mitigate the growing risk of cyberattack. That’s what this issue of MHI Solutions is all about, from cybersecurity threats in an IIoT world to dark data to the human factor in cybersecurity to blockchain as a potential solution.

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