As our world has become more interconnected, the way in which we move goods has become more complex. Globalization has resulted in supply chain fragmentation and shifting consumer preferences have resulted in smaller, more frequent shipments and deliveries. These factors have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the trends may be temporary, they have exposed deficiencies in supply chain resiliency and security. And, where consumers may have previously traveled to a store or a restaurant for their needs, they now expect everything to be available at their doorstep, suggesting a dramatic increase in last mile deliveries. The Commission seeks to study these trends, exploring freight sector emissions, technological advancements, equitable access to deliveries, the last mile, and the supply chain.
Freight sector emissions
Freight industry changes, aggravated and accelerated by the global pandemic, suggest an increase in sector emissions. The Commission will study the full port-to-home transportation cycle to explore the following questions:
- What parts of the freight value chain are most carbon intensive? Which have the biggest impacts on ambient air quality? How do we manage these impacts?
- How is freight transportation affecting congestion and air quality in urban areas? How can we manage for these impacts?
Technological advancements, from vehicle automation, to the internet of things (IoT), to improved operational systems have all supported enhanced efficiency in freight networks. This sub-study seeks to explore the technological advancements currently in development and in use to determine which advancements will have the greatest impacts on the freight network.
Key questions the Commission seeks to study are:
- Which advancements most effectively improve efficiency in the freight value chain?
- What needs to be done to accelerate development and adoption of the most promising technological solutions?
Equitable access to deliveries
While technological advancements and a shifting industry have increased convenience and access to goods for many, those benefits are not evenly distributed. This section seeks to explore the distribution of access to goods. Questions we will explore are:
- What percentage of the population has access to deliveries within specific timeframes? What is the economic cost of limited access to rapid delivery?
- Where do delivery drivers live in comparison to where they deliver goods?
As both the frequency and the expectations of immediate deliveries increases, the challenges of the last mile of delivery become more acute. This sub-section explores the last mile issue through the following questions:
- How can we most effectively manage congestion created as a result of last mile deliveries?
- How can we better plan our cities and infrastructure to consider delivery needs? Where are there near term opportunities for making meaningful changes?
- What are the greatest expenses associated with the last mile? How do we manage those expenses more effectively?
- What are the current global trends around parking? Around the utilization of curb space or pick-up and drop-off areas?
- Who is competing for the curb or parking spaces? How are these resources being allocated? How should they be priced or managed?
- What policies or legislation is currently supporting or hindering our ability to reach our goals?