Urbelog project: large gap between needs of operators and government strategies

The Urbelog project investigated the needs of stakeholders in city logistics; retailers and HoReCa, transport operators and local authorities. The project was aimed at designing a dynamic and participatory platform of services and applications for the optimisation of the last mile city logistics.

The research has been carried out in the city of Torino (I) where some integrated services will be introduced as part of the Urbelog project:

  • management and booking of loading/unloading areas;
  • experimental dropbox for collection and delivery;
  • the introduction of dynamic access to the limited traffic zone (ZTL, Zona a Traffico Limitato);
  • real-time dynamic optimisation of routes.

To meet this goal a survey has been administered to a sample of transport operators, points of sale, public administration. The survey has been designed using a quali-quantitative method (web-questionnaire, interviews and focus groups).


The results have showed a large gap between the needs of the operators (transport operators and retailers) and the strategies that the administration would seek to implement. A lack of interaction between the stakeholders has led to misperceive the problems that the carriers have to face daily and to overestimate the importance of the technology in solving the last mile issues. Prior to designing complex and expensive platforms, it is fundamental to implement basic measures, closely related to the efficiency of the unloading and delivery of goods within the urban centre.


Customers’ needs

Most of the constraints that transport operators face come from customers’ needs: different and specific time delivery windows, the modifications occurring during the day (especially for couriers like TNT or DHL). Thus, a change of behaviour of final consumers to receive their parcels could help the transport operators to optimise their work. Furthermore, the suggestion regarding the use of public transport to deliver the goods and the use of the two main railway stations as locations for intermediate transfer points demand a further consideration.
The lessons learnt from the survey investigating the users’ need are promising: They make up a starting point for future studies in the last mile freight delivery, more user-centered and less “top-down”.

Source: Pronello, C., Camusso, C., & Valentina, R. (2017). Last mile freight distribution and transport operators’ needs: which targets and challenges?. Transportation research procedia, 25, 888-899.

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