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DynaHUBs is a new application designed to kick start the development of the Physical Internet using a crowd-sourced approach

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New delivery app adds emergency response capability to community-facilitated cargo

When the Alliance for Logistics Innovation through Collaboration in Europe (http://www.etp-logistics.eu (ALICE)) signs a Liaison Programme with a project, you know there’s an innovation afoot. So just what has the DynaHUBS project achieved?

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DynaHUBS piggy-backs on ‘idle’ logistics capacity, creating a virtual marketplace for users to manage delivery opportunities. These hubs are dynamic, responding to users’ needs and changing contextual factors such as: traffic patterns, weather conditions and/or more extreme situations such as natural- or man-made disaster impacts. The concept, which was inspired by car-pooling, allows users to make deliveries while simply following their prearranged journeys. As project coordinator Mr Mehmet Golhan explains, “We wanted to build real neighbourhood level delivery networks, without adding new vehicles to the roads.” DynaHUBS’s strategy was to concentrate on large volume deliveries. After first exploring last mile delivery capability for high volume e-commerce, the team found their volumes amongst existing car-pooling communities and emergency relief agencies. The hub Crucially, users can activate DynaHUBS in parallel with other applications, with delivery companies benefitting from a wider, more agile suite of mobility solutions. As Golhan points out: “Typically, stand-alone options can’t generate enough volume to sustain a customer base. With our peer-2-peer platform we want to be a community-led WhatsApp of the delivery businesses and not a centralised operation.” Underlying the platform is an innovative logistics algorithm, connecting routes, messengers, cargo and receivers. DynaHUBS is also integrated to a sophisticated server and cloud-based system. As the prototype was co-created with users to be intuitive, the application achieved a 75 % reduction in transaction steps. As Golhan says, “This is the project’s most significant technological achievement. There is no comparable peer-to-peer exchange platform with our novel design.” Currently DynaHUBS operates at a real price advantage compared to the global giants. For example, Uber charges 4.95 EUR for a delivery with DynaHUBS costing 75 cents, as they don’t incur the cost of professional drivers. To date, the system has been tested in Istanbul, Brussels, Stockholm and Madrid. In Istanbul, DynaHUBS was used during a simulated earthquake response, with roads blocked due to flooding. First responders used DynaHUBS to deliver relief supplies and equipment from warehouses to the airport for distribution. As Golhan says, “During user groups meetings, testers understood the purpose of the app, demonstrated a genuine interest and most gave positive feedback. Furthermore, we knew we had a well-developed peer-to-peer delivery app. However, we didn’t foresee the potential to save lives. We are proud to empower communities with a crisis management tool for use when transportation systems fail.” Contributing to the EU’s mobility and ICT objectives Moving forwards DynaHUBS doesn’t intend to compete with the global delivery market B2C giants but rather focus on door-to-door short distance delivery, with the last mile equating to 53-75 % of all parcel delivery costs Towards this end, the team are improving the app’s usability, also adding alternative communications and IoT capabilities. Additionally, being able to connect smart phones and automobiles, will mean the activation of a mesh network for emergency communications, operating even when GSM isn’t. The researchers are also currently conducting scenario planning and gamification work with relief agencies, first responders, and civil protection agencies across Europe. The team are already in discussion with a number of potential B2B clients for specific customisation for their communities/organisations, and with the app already publicly available, are conducting tests under real life conditions.

Keywords

DynaHUBS, physical internet, app, community, cargo, freight, emergency response, resilience, delivery, peer-to-peer, car-pool

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