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Promoting Sustainable Freight Transport in Urban Contexts: Policy and Decision-Making Approaches

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PROSFET (Promoting Sustainable Freight Transport in Urban Contexts:Policy and Decision-Making Approaches)

Reporting period: 2019-01-01 to 2019-12-31

Within a context of growing urban population, advances in urban logistics operations and improved local authority planning, especially in the field of the urban freight transport, can alleviate the associated negative environmental and economic impacts occurring in cities.
Several types of stakeholders are involved in such urban logistics management processes. Among them, freight carriers and shippers are interested in minimizing freight logistics costs in order to maximize their profits, while maintaining a competitive level of service to their customers. City administrators and residents are oriented towards a decrease in traffic congestion, social costs and environmental nuisances, even though they are often direct beneficiaries of high quality delivery services.
This leads to a multitude of differing and possibly conflicting objectives that are involved in urban freight transport planning and decision making, yielding a high level of complexity. This provides the main motivation for the development of tools for helping decision makers to reach higher grades of efficiency.
Despite growing academic interest, the extent to which freight transport is acknowledged and formally considered in local authority transport planning varies considerably from country to country, and on a more local level, between towns and cities. As a result, policy development with respect to urban freight and city logistics is characterised by a rather fragmented approach, with many city authorities finding it difficult to address the complex set of differing views of a large variety of stakeholders.
The ProSFeT project has been aimed at identifying local authority planning needs with regards to urban/city logistics activities and the necessary pre-requisites for inclusion of stakeholders in the process. Also, the project has promoted the knowledge transfer of methods and models through the conceptual development of a novel decision support tool (thanks to involved software houses), which could allow local authorities to evaluate the suitability of sustainable urban logistics solutions.
The programme has fully achieved all of its objectives.

Work has been conducted towards the achievement of the project objectives:
Extensive reviews of the current state of the art, in terms of current practices adopted by European Local authorities in the field of Urban Freight Transport have been produced.
Extensive reviews of the current state of the art, in terms of the usage of stakeholders’ engagement methods in Urban Freight Transport policy formulation by European Local Authorities have been produced.
Extensive reviews of the current state of the art, in terms of the usage of Decision Support Tools in Urban Freight Transport policy formulation by European Local Authorities have been produced.
Applications of stakeholders' engagement methods have been provided.
The beta version of a Decision Support System aimed at aiding local authorities in evaluating the suitability of Sustainable Urban Logistics solutions has been developed.

The aim of WP1 has been to understand the problems faced by local authorities when implementing Sustainable Urban Logistics (SUL) solutions, especially in terms of stakeholders’ engagement.
The report produced for D1.1 has listed early findings from the ProSFeT project, corroborated by the current literature and by interaction with stakeholders and a series of recommendations were provided to address the above mentioned needs. A literature review and an analysis of the Stakeholders' Engagement Methods were the subject of D1.2. In the final phase of the project, D1.3 provided an extensive report about the application of stakeholders’ engagement techniques for urban freight transport planning in real-world contexts.

As concern WP2, a first review on the use of Decision Support Systems in the field of real world Sustainable Urban Logistics problems has been produced (D2.1); findings showed a dichotomy between theory and practice and that the development of strategic tools that offer decision support beyond operational levels is a critical need.
The secondment of researchers at Local Authorities allowed researchers to experience current problems faced by such organisations in the field of Urban Freight Transport and, subsequently, propose solutions to them. Deliverable D2.2 provided an extensive report about practical implementation of decision support methodologies for freight transport planning in real-world contexts; deliverable D2.3 illustrated the specification of a Decision Support System which has been put together during the project. The Beta Version of this software tool was also developed.

The first project meeting took place on the 18th January 2017 in Sheffield (UK). Interim Skype meetings have been regularly held.
The Mid-term Project Meeting took place on 11th June 2018 in Sheffield, UK; an intensive Summer Workshop on Urban Freight Transport and Logistics was held in Sheffield on 13th-15th June 2018 and was attended by 25 postgraduate students. A final event, held on 14th September 2019, and hosted in Sheffield (UK) was attended by more than 100 participants.

As regards Dissemination (WP4), all the deliverables have been produced. Project participants have given keynotes and presentations about the project at international conferences in Italy, Spain, France and Belgium. Several papers have been published in prestigious international journals, many of them directly resulting from secondments and related activities.
By promoting knowledge transfer between academia and local authorities (specifically in the areas of Decision Support and Stakeholders' Engagement), the project has facilitated the adoption of more sustainable urban logistics solutions. Within this context, the project has fully realised its impact potential. Indeed, secondment of researchers to Local Authorities (SS, CBMDC, SCC) has contributed to the solution of practical problems faced by these organisations through transfer of knowledge, creation of Decision Support methods, research and consultancy.
In all cases, work conducted by the seconded researchers is providing advice to policy- and decision-makers which could result in the implementation of solution to address the environmental impacts deriving from freight transport activities in an urban context.
The project has had a positive impact on the operations of involved software houses (which are SMEs from Italy and the UK). Indeed, a beta version for a Decision Support System (DSS) was created as part of WP2. This DSS can provide aid to Local Authorities which are thinking about the implementation of Sustainable Urban Logistics solutions, with a special emphasis on Urban Consolidation Centres. This DSS could be then converted in a finished product through future projects, with the aim of promoting its utilisation across a larger number of Local Authorities.
The project has had a great impact on the career of seconded early stage researchers who took part in the project activities. Seconded Researchers, following their work with ProSFeT, have been hired in academia, logistics industry and consultancy companies.
By promoting knowledge transfer between academia and local authorities, the project has facilitated the adoption of more sustainable urban logistics solutions. Support provided to local authorities in terms of urban freight transport has also been scaled up for formulating some policy briefs.