On-demand mobility company ViaVan and Sutton Council have partnered to launch a delivery platform to supply emergency food to over 1,000 vulnerable residents in the London borough of Sutton.
ViaVan’s technology was previously used to power GoSutton, a demand-responsive bus service in the Borough, and now, ViaVan has deployed a delivery platform using this technology to automate the operations behind parcel distribution at scale.
The technology manages routing and delivery of emergency parcels to those in need with support from volunteer drivers.
The project is supported by funding recently awarded to ViaVan by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, as part of its “Fast Start Competition”, launched to encourage the introduction of innovations borne out of the coronavirus crisis from technology start-ups.
Since the launch on May 2, the turnaround time for a single vehicle load of deliveries has been cut in half as volunteers no longer need to line up to register, and receive parcel information and routing through the mobile app upon arrival at the hub.
This means that volunteers can complete more delivery trips in the same amount of time, which is essential as scale grows and some volunteers find themselves going back to work.
Councillor Ruth Dombey, Leader of Sutton Council, said: “The Council made a commitment to deliver food and essential items to those who need them most during these times.
“Given the scale of the challenge we quickly realised we needed to change how we work to deliver what was needed.
“Using ViaVan’s technology has helped our staff and volunteers deliver food parcels to residents more efficiently.”
Sutton Council’s network is sending out over 700 parcels a week throughout the borough.
Chris Snyder, Viva chief executive, said the new model with Sutton Council represents an opportunity for other cities and towns across the UK to do the same to optimise operations for delivery services for those in need.
Volunteers supporting delivery efforts log into a mobile app which tells them which parcels to collect.
Once on the road, volunteers travel a route determined by ViaVan’s algorithms to drop off all items.
Residents benefit from a text notification, the ability for drivers to call residents safely without exposing the resident’s personal data, and contactless delivery in line with health guidelines.
ViaVan, and parent company Via, are partnering with dozens of municipalities, public transit agencies, healthcare organizations, and nonprofits globally to support mobility for essential healthcare workers and parcel delivery during the pandemic.
In Berlin, ViaVan and Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) adapted the BerlKönig on-demand public transportation service to serve essential healthcare workers exclusively.
In the UK, ViaVan and Go-Coach accelerated the launch of a demand-responsive bus service in Kent to temporarily replace all fixed-route bus lines, both reducing cost and servicing essential rides.