Some people might be rather cynical about seeing students hanging around on street corners. But here’s an example of where it’s not only a good thing – it’s potentially ground-breaking.
It’s all to do with a project by MIT’s Centre for Transport and Logistics to understand the dynamics of supply chains in the world’s rapidly expanding mega-cities.
The Summer 2013 Global Megacity Logistics Study was a 12-week research programme for MIT undergraduates, working with local students, to collect data in Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Beijing, Santiago, Sao Paulo, Kuala Lumpur and Madrid.
The result, according to a report in MIT News, is a series of maps showing delivery patterns and opening the way to a new understanding of logistics in these urban areas.
The project reflects the recognition that existing models based on experience in the industrialised world were not applicable.
The project was initiated by Edgar Blanco, research director at MIT’s Centre for Transport and Logistics in the belief that we need to learn more about the logistics in megacities, mostly because they represent the future of urbanisation.
“We not only have to design better logistics systems in the cities, we need cities that are designed better for logistics,” he told MIT News.
That data is now being made available online, at no cost, in an open-access pool of information. And the plan is to add to the database of information in the future.
Ultimately, this could mean better planning decisions by local authorities as well as more informed logistics decisions by companies working in these cities. And that in turn could start to bring down supply chain costs.