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A group of creative thinkers from (mid)corporates, start-ups, academics, city officials and students gathered to explore the opportunities and the pitfalls of a new possibility in last mile logistics; by using the canals in Amsterdam. What an energy!
Challenges in urbanization
Urbanization leads to increasing movements of people, vehicles and goods in an ever demanding urban environment, with increasing pressure on cities as a result. Smart, efficient and innovative solutions are needed to optimize the movements and flows. Transportation through the waterway networks, by using new distribution technologies and infrastructure, promises to have vast potential in providing an integrated logistics concept for the city of Amsterdam. This opens up a world of opportunities – and challenges – for future sustainable logistics and e-commerce.
Two speakers introduced the group into two relevant developments. Stephan van Dijk is coordinating the Roboat research project and developed a prototype of an autonomous floating boat. The project is a joint research initiative together with MIT. Roboat offers many interesting opportunities for carrying load through water; a massive emerging logistics opportunity for retail and e-commerce. In addition, the new sustainable depot Amsterdam Logistic Cityhub (ALC) is aimed at unlocking the Amsterdam canals as a new means of distribution. Wouter Moll from ALC explained that with the port and ring roads within arm's reach, the canal network and the city centre of Amsterdam will become accessible with zero emissions from 2021.
After the plenary introduction, two groups were formed for further in-depth discussion on the challenges and the opportunities these developments can bring. Led by two very experienced moderators, Sander van der Blonk and Jan Paul Grollé from Teeming, the groups explored the critical assumptions underlying these opportunities, the possibilities they could bring for both business and society at large, and the contributions each of them could make to help these projects develop further. Some criticism was brought to the table about regulations, but it opened a very constructive discussion about challenges and possibilities. The event also proved to be an opportunity for stakeholders to get better understanding of the issues they faced, and it opened up communication about potential solutions.
The Cumulus Park team was very impressed by the depth of the discussions and the insights each of the participants shared. During the break-outs the energetic vibes were felt everywhere. And equally important; the majority of the group decided to contribute to further exploration on ways in which logistics over water can be developed. For this reason a follow-up session is being organized on January 15th.
Cumulus Park is a collaborative innovation district in Amsterdam Southeast full of ambition and growth that will develop in the coming years. It is initiated by ING and is now supported by the municipality of Amsterdam, the Amsterdam University of Applied Science and the ROC van Amsterdam. Cumulus Park offers a network, inspiration, processes and physical spaces for new generations of students, (mid) corporates, innovators, researchers and local entrepreneurs. From a green park to the faculties of the Amsterdam University of Applied Science and the ROC van Amsterdam. From a globally oriented restaurant concept to offices where workspaces are designed to co-create, learn, research and inspire.
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