In city logistics, the final metres are often the slowest and the costliest. In recognition of this, a new pilot starting in Helsinki will have professional drivers collect additional information about entrances and the actual locations of recipients into a shared database accessible to all drivers, saving everyone’s time.
The navigator says that you have arrived. But this is only the beginning of the actual search. A situation all too familiar to professional delivery drivers, as street addresses alone do not tell you exactly where the goods delivery entrances of companies or the right stairwells of large residential buildings are located.
Sometimes the actual route you need to take might be on other street. Some companies want to receive goods via an inner courtyard entrance, instead of their main entrance. In urban and shopping centres, the delivery destinations are often located underground. Drivers also need to know in advance where they can actually drive, especially when making deliveries by lorry.
These are just some of the numerous challenges that drivers encounter during deliveries, which require information to tackle. Traditionally, this information is accumulated as drivers gain experience, with new drivers asking more experienced ones for advice or learning the hard way. The latter method includes making urgent phone calls, as well as trial and error, which take time and involve risks.
Smoother deliveries would benefit not only the transport sector itself, but customers, the City and residents as well. In recognition of this, Forum Virium Helsinki and TIEKE, the Finnish Information Society Development Centre, are working together with the transport sector to develop a solution for smooth deliveries in the Logistics Accessibility Data project funded by the City of Helsinki’s Innovation Fund.
Putting urban delivery pain points on a map with the help of professionals
In February–April 2022, the project is also carrying out a crowdsourced information gathering pilot that involves goods transport professionals reporting challenging delivery destinations that they encounter in Helsinki. As part of these reports, drivers are also asked to share instructions on how to best access these challenging destination to make deliveries. The pilot is being carried out by Tietorahti Oy.
In practice, drivers report the locations of offices, recommended goods delivery doors and loading bays and, if necessary, information on where to turn from the street, which are saved in a database. Drivers can also include free-form delivery instructions in their reports to further facilitate future deliveries.
In addition to the information detailed above, the pilot project is gathering open data on the various restrictive traffic signs of buildings. According to the Road Traffic Act, buildings need to apply for a permit from the municipality for placing restrictive traffic signs and also submit information about these signs as open data. In practice, this does not happen, however. As a result, professional drivers do not know in advance how to access customers or where they have enough room to drive, which increases unnecessary driving around in city centres.
Information initially collected by summer employees
In a previous pilot project, detailed information on the entrances of buildings in Helsinki was collected by summer employees. In 2020, comprehensive school graduates in Helsinki were given summer vouchers with which they could be hired for summer jobs, in many cases for the first time in their lives. The summer voucher scheme was continued in 2021, when the vouchers were given to new comprehensive school graduates, as well as those who had received vouchers in the previous year.
During these two summers, Forum Virium Helsinki employed a total of 30 summer employees with the help of the summer vouchers to collect information on over 13,000 building entrances in Helsinki, which were added to the Open Logistics Map (OLMap).
The collected information has also been used to supplement the widely-used OpenStreetMap. The collected information benefits all of the numerous map-based applications that use OpenStreetMap, one of the most notable of which in Helsinki is the HSL Journey Planner.
New information about goods delivery destinations can be reported via:
- The Tietorahdin kartta mobile application, which is downloadable from application stores
- Tietorahti’s online form at https://tietorahti.fi/kartat/
- The Logistics Accessibility Data project’s Open Logistics Map at https://app.olmap.org/
Four ways to utilise the information
- Gatesolve is a free solution for last metre route planning developed in the Logistics Accessibility Data project. It includes information on entrances and driving routes, including yard areas. Gatesolve can be accessed on computers and smart phones via a browser:
- The information can be integrated into logistics companies’ existing software from the Open Logistics Map. The integration can be tailored to the company or software. In the future, open APIs will also be defined to facilitate integration.
- During the pilot, the information will also enrich the free Tietorahdin kartta application, which already has nearly 10,000 users.
- The information has been imported into OpenStreetMap. Together with other data, it benefits all services that use OpenStreetMap, such as public transport journey planners (HSL etc.).
Companies can now contribute as information gatherers and testers
Logistics companies and drivers can also now start testing how the new information on goods delivery destinations benefits their work. Over time, the time and effort saved can be significant; according to a survey carried out by Forum Virium Helsinki, drivers and transport managers assess that reaching hard-to-find destinations takes an average of over six minutes each.
The Gatesolve service developed in the Logistics Accessibility Data project is directly accessible via a browser on computers and smartphones. Furthermore, during the project, which will last until May, users will be provided with free personal user support and help for integrating the operating model into the everyday operations of companies.