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SUSTAINABLE CITY CENTRES WITH SMART LOGISTICS

The supply of our inner cities is ineffective. Every day, delivery vans and trucks drive in and out of our city centres. Due to poor planning and ineffective use of space most of the available loading capacity remains unused. This also applies to the world of events, where many steps can be taken towards a more effective supply chain, leading to smarter cities. Who takes the lead? 

What is a smart city?

‘An integral solution for a healthy and vital city.’ That's how the Dutch research institute TNO describes smart cities. The accessibility, viability and sustainability of towns and cities are directly connected to air quality, noise levels and energy. All this directly impacts the health of residents and the economic vitality as a whole. The constant supply of goods and materials have a big impact on the health and vitality of a city. With an efficient and sustainable supply chain cities can become a lot smarter, with significantly improved living conditions.

Hubs for efficient logistics

In this context, the University of Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam recently started a ground breaking collaboration: the universities bundle their logistics forces and allow suppliers to deliver all the supplies at a hub outside the city. This should reduce the number of deliveries directly university sites from 30.000 to 750. This is a good example of creating smarter cities, especially when you consider that the remaining 750 deliveries will be carried out by electric vehicles and bicycles. Hopefully, other companies and institutions will take this as an example as, after all, this is the only way to keep our inner cities liveable. Especially in industries where old-fashioned thinking still dominates, such as the world of conventions and events, the advantages (and profits) are huge.

Logistic impact of events

Statistics from leading convention associations ICCA and UIA show that Amsterdam is one of the world’s foremost cities for conventions and association events. In the ICCA’s global rankings, Amsterdam comes in 12th place for 2015. Annually, Amsterdam hosts an average of 900  conventions and association events and an equally large number of business to business events. Let’s consider the logistic impact of this. Most of these events are held at inner city venues. Most of these events come with an expo floor. If you consider that most of the used stands for these expos are old-fashioned and ineffective, requiring truckloads of materials, it is obvious that much improvement can be made in the transition towards smarter cities. 

Incentives for a sustainable approach towards logistics 

However, there are no incentives yet for the events industry to become more sustainable. Even without a sustainable approach, exhibition stand building companies still have enough business. The incentive is not there yet, but we believe this will change. Large venues such as the RAI in Amsterdam, where about 500 major events and another 1,000 smaller meetings are held annually, might incorporate sustainability requirements in its policies. And what about new regulations from municipalities, which rejects large lorries to enter city centres, which goes one step further than for example the London Low Emission Zone.

Creating a sustainable city centres. Together.

There are already solutions available that enable exhibition stand building companies to operate more efficiently and sustainable. These companies can for example decide to only design stands with materials that fit into small vans, such as aluminium and textiles. This transition is not completed in just one day. However, don’t wait until the pressure comes from outside, regardless if it’s changing legislation or from your own customers pursuing a sustainable CSR-strategy. In addition to reconsidering the way we design and build, we also need to consider an industry-wide approach. With a more efficient supply chain within our own industry, we’ll add our weight towards creating smarter cities. After all, the future of the inner city will be a sustainable one, and we all need to take our responsibility towards realising this.

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JOHN FAAS

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“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

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