• Mobility
  • Urban

Finding the right space for urban logistics: a framework for open parcel locker systems

Client: City of Groningen

Date: November 2023

Location: the Netherlands

The surge in e-commerce is transforming urban landscapes, as consumers increasingly demand swift, direct-to-home deliveries. To maintain orderly and liveable public spaces, the implementation of city-wide parcel locker networks is emerging as an important tool for consolidating urban logistics. Our Mobility and Logistics Planning team supported the City of Groningen in addressing the rapid expansion of these services and managing their impact on public spaces. The support resulted in the production of a new framework for parcel lockers, developed in collaboration with the city and the University of Groningen. Overall, the insights gathered in the report can serve as a guide for public authorities looking to develop a well-thought-out, coordinated approach. They are also beneficial for parcel locker providers interested in improving their services and adapting to different city requirements, including accessibility and aesthetics.

 

Challenge

Like many innovations, parcel lockers took cities by surprise, developing much more rapidly than associated policies and regulations. Some public authorities are still trying to find a middle ground between allowing such services to spread freely on streets, while managing the additional pressure they might bring to public spaces, traffic, and overall quality of life. The City of Groningen required extensive analysis to identify the best strategy and locations for the deployment of parcel lockers across the city.

Approach

The framework consisted of two parts: 1) a benchmark of best practices from around the world, guiding the public authority in the requirements to add to the tender. This was developed through a literature review and in collaboration with other expert partners (University of Groningen). 2) spatial analyses to optimally allocate new parcel locker facilities in public spaces. These were conducted using GIS (ArcMap) tools and could be executed utilising open data.

The spatial analysis of the City of Groningen encompassed three key steps:

  • Understanding the city context.
  • Finding the most accessible 10 public spots.
  • Filling in the gaps in private networks.

Impact

Although complex, Groningen’s approach is replicable in other contexts, too, allowing public and private stakeholders to work together in the transition towards sustainable urban logistics. This way, municipalities can ensure that their ambitious zero-emission policies can be implemented with less pushback from the local community. This is bolstered by tangible support for businesses and citizens, ensuring sustained economic activity within the city. The new framework for parcel lockers is more than just a logistical solution; it represents a forward-thinking approach to urban planning and community engagement. By prioritising accessibility and the needs of local communities, we hope to set a new standard for how urban logistics challenges should be addressed. Spatial analyses like this can be applied not only to urban logistics but also to other aspects of urban mobility and urban planning. The insights gained from this framework, coupled with the overall learnings from the ULaaDS project, are set to influence future urban logistics initiatives across Europe.

expert partners
key recommendations for public authorities
potential users identified
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We see parcel lockers spreading rapidly across European cities. While the practice has evolved quickly, the policies and frameworks to ensure parcel lockers serve as a public good are largely missing. This collaborative work kickstarted by the City of Groningen offers an example that other cities could follow, not just for parcel lockers, but also for other transport developments (loading zones, drop-off areas for shared mobility, etc.) which will require more and more public space.

– Lorena Axinte, Mobility Innovation Consultant

Project team

Víctor Ferran
Innovation Consultant
Mobility
Ignacio Magallón
Innovation Consultant
Mobility
Lorena Axinte
Innovation Consultant
Mobility

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