Smart Transport

Ensuring London emerges more sustainable from Covid-19

Nicola Hogan, sustainability manager at King's College London, explores how London can emerge a more sustainable city from the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of London’s wider efforts to ensure the city emerges stronger from Covid-19, the Mayor of London’s Office have launched ‘The Resilience Fund’.

The fund is calling on innovators to address key challenges facing the city in the hope that not only will London and the UK be able to ‘build back better’ but also be better prepared for future disruptive challenges. 

King’s College London’s sustainability team and Better Bankside have partnered in their application to be part of the Mayor for London’s Resilience Fund and created the Smart Mobility Challenge.

This challenge asks innovators and ‘solution providers’ to create an intelligent tool that can devise shorter, faster and ultimately greener freight journeys through urban areas.  

The problem

Many of our towns and cities routinely breach air quality standards, exposing many of us to dangerous levels of air pollution.

Organisations with multiple sites who operate fleets of vehicles like King’s College London, typically drive thousands of miles a year moving goods from one campus to another on an as needed basis, and in doing so, emit air polluting CO2 and NOx.

Unfortunately, the current ‘fleet usage’ system at King’s is reactive and could be considered wasteful. Once a request for the transport of goods is made, it’s carried out with only an occasional opportunity for consolidation of goods to the same location.

Also, as debris from tyre wear and breaking also contribute to air pollution, this is another factor that solution providers need to consider.  

The fund is therefore calling on innovators - tech SMEs, engineers, social enterprises and others - to develop solutions to some of London’s key challenges, many of which centre around sustainability.

Each challenge is sponsored by a Resilience Partner, and include local authorities, public agencies, business improvement districts and charities, who will work with the innovator to test and implement their technologies and ideas.  

The solution

Reducing the number of miles driven and corresponding air pollutants while maintaining economic resilience are the challenge’s key objectives, so in the shorter term, the impact may include ‘re-moding’ (transition to cleaner modes of transport), re-timing of deliveries (reducing journeys made when most people are occupying the public realm) or reducing the number of polluting delivery vehicles (consolidating deliveries).

Longer term impacts might include, investment into cleaner fleets and/or reduction in fleet size, the movement of goods made more resilient and reliable as data expands.

The solution would provide King’s College London and other fleet using organisation with better information on how to make their fleet operations more efficient, thereby helping to reduce their carbon footprint and save money.  

Since being launched on February 23, 2021, quite a few innovators and solution providers have expressed interest in applying for the opportunity to secure up to £50,000 in funding to develop their solution.

The closing date for applications is April 4 and answers to application related questions are given on the project website.

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