Digital Twins lead the future of urban logistics

Polis joins 26 high-level partners in the H2020 funded LEAD Project: Low-Emission Adaptive last-mile logistics supporting ‘on Demand economy’ through digital twins. LEAD will create Digital Twins of urban logistics networks in six cities, to support experimentation and decision making with on-demand logistics operations in a public-private urban setting.

Last-mile delivery systems are facing many challenges associated with the dawn of on-demand logistics, struggling to accommodate citizen’s expectations for responsive logistics systems, that deliver products at low or even zero cost. This is the case for both small and large-scale consumer platforms, pledging swift delivery times, albeit with little market economic incentives for the creation of sustainable systems.

Uberisation of logistics

This so-called ‘Uberisation of logistics’ is putting a strain on cities, which are faced with the potential negative consequences of this phenomenon, alongside the unpredictability of market developments. Cities are aware of these challenges and have begun addressing them, with an increasing number of logistics living labs, complementing the old ‘predict and provide’ paradigm. Digital Twins are fairly new concepts in the sphere of urban logistics, consisting of a digital reproduction of a complex real-world urban environment, representing the different processes, actors, and their interaction(s), which are being employed to tackle this and other challenges.

The recent COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the importance of the resilience of the logistics chain, which sees the most complex stretch in the last urban mile. It is also changing the way citizens buy, increasingly turning to online, on-demand platforms. This pressure on the system must, therefore, be efficiently mitigated.

Digital Twins

LEAD will create Digital Twins of urban logistics networks in 6 cities (Madrid, The Hague, Budapest, Lyon, Oslo, and Porto), to test and represent different innovative solutions for city logistics, to address the requirements of the on-demand economy while aligning competing interests and creating value for all different stakeholders.

This will allow for the development of a variety of logistics solutions for shared, connected, and low-emission logistics operations, empowered by an adaptive modeling approach and Digital Twin models. Agent-based (ABM) models will be used to enable city logistics stakeholders to recognize their roles and business models, including all relevant operational, tactical, and strategic decisions in the Digital Twin, mirroring value cases in the reality of city life.

The long-term vision of LEAD is to design an Open Physical Internet-inspired framework for Smart City Logistics that incorporates the created Digital Twins, laying the foundations for the development of large-scale city Digital Twins.


EMT Madrid coordinates the LEAD consortium, providing its expertise coordinating EU funded projects such as CIVITAS ECCENTRIC or MOMENTUM, and valuing its experience as a manager of facilities that can potentially play a key role in the field of urban logistics, acting as consolidation centers and providing additional services for low-emission mobility (i.e. providing charging infrastructure for electric vehicles). Likewise, EMT is also developing a new mobility model for the city, which aims to be as complete as possible, including also something as fundamental as urban logistics, which is key to the mobility of our cities.

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