In the busy streets of Stuttgart, drivers often park in loading zones reserved for delivery vehicles. That leads delivery drivers to double park or leave their vehicles on sidewalks or cycle lanes, blocking traffic and creating potentially hazardous situations. To improve this situation, the city of Stuttgart has launched the “Digital loading zone management” project in collaboration with IAT at the University of Stuttgart and the company Parkunload®. Their goal is to design an app featuring real-time data.
In recent years, Stuttgart – the capital of the German state of Baden-Württemberg – has recorded high and increasing rates of freight transport vehicles as a percentage of overall traffic. As a result, demand is also high for the time-limited zones where delivery drivers can load and unload goods. The problem is that other drivers often park in these loading zones, forcing delivery drivers to double park or leave their vehicles on sidewalks or cycle lanes. As well as causing traffic to come to a standstill, this also creates hazardous situations for pedestrians and cyclists by blocking their designated access routes. To counter this situation, the city of Stuttgart has joined forces with selected partners on the pilot project “Digital loading zone management”. The goal of the project is to develop a smartphone app that uses real-time data to enable smart control and management of delivery vehicles. The project is funded through the “Immediate action program for clean air” (“Sofortprogramm Saubere Luft”) run by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), which aims to improve the flow of traffic on a local level and reduce emissions. To study and record the effects of this digital solution, the University of Stuttgart’s Institute of Human Factors and Technology Management IAT, which cooperates closely with Fraunhofer IAO, is conducting an analysis of the baseline situation to enable it to observe and track the impact during and after implementation of the new scheme. A further partner in the project is the technology provider Parkunload®, which has given the city of Stuttgart access to a Europe-wide digital platform for regulating and controlling parking.
App creates opportunity to improve local traffic flow and urban freight transport in Stuttgart
Digital loading zone management works using a smartphone app combined with sensor-based road signs. The app allows delivery drivers to check which loading zones are currently available in real-time and drive straight to them. As soon as they reach the loading zone, the app uses a Bluetooth connection to mark it as occupied and the delivery drivers can access it to load and unload their vehicle. As well as providing an opportunity to improve traffic management, the pilot project also offers additional benefits to the city of Stuttgart. For example, the local authorities can use the data recorded by the app on loading zone occupancy and capacity utilization to improve their planning processes for additional loading zones.
Range of expectations for first pilot project of its kind in Germany
The pilot project is due to start in November 2020 in the Stuttgart city districts of Feuerbach and Zuffenhausen. This will be the first project of its kind in Germany to use a digital platform to regulate and control delivery vehicles in a downtown area. “We’re interested to see whether this technology can have a major, long-term effect on eliminating double-parking,” says Dr. Manuela Wohlhüter, a scientist at Fraunhofer IAO. “Local people will also have to play their part by remembering not to block designated loading zones and by paying attention to delivery vehicles when making brief stops.” Roger Vilanou, CEO of Parkunload®, is particularly interested in how the operation of the digital delivery zone management scheme will compare to other international projects: “Based on its performance in other EU cities, Parkunload’s platform can offer practical benefits by making more spaces available. It can also establish an environmental baseline for greener regulations when smart loading zones are backed by mandatory regulation. The results are less certain when the pilot starts as a voluntary trial – but we always learn new things. Stuttgart has involved the logistics community in choosing the zone locations. If all the actors work together, this solution will bring new knowledge and benefits.”
Some basic conditions need to be clarified before the scheme can operate in Germany. These include specifying how real-time data will be collected and processed and ensuring compliance with legal and urban planning requirements when assigning and signposting loading zones.
(c) Fraunhofer IAO