Food, cleaning materials and furniture are among the contents of many of the 1000 trucks and vans arriving every month into the ground floor of one of the City of London’s tallest skyscrapers.
Above the heads of the delivery drivers and couriers coming and going from the small loading area are 6000 people employed by over 16 companies across 48 floors. Careful management of freight vehicles on behalf of the occupants is required, otherwise the loading bays and adjacent service road face potential gridlock – leading to fines for drivers and the risk of increased air pollution.
Few will be more acutely aware of traffic management issues in the area than Steve Whyman who was previously chief executive of a property management business looking after several sites in London. This experience gave him an insight into the challenges of urban freight and the potential to reduce vehicle movements using data and technology.
Steve and his team developed a prototype of what is now CurbCargo, a software system that manages vehicle arrivals and encourages more sustainable deliveries. They did so using £30,000 awarded from the Transport Research and Innovation Grants (TRIG) programme in 2022 – delivered by Connected Places Catapult on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT).
Earlier this year, their start-up company won a further £120,000 in funding for a trial at scale through the Freight Innovation Fund Accelerator, which is also delivered by the Catapult for DfT.
“The building we are working with in the City of London is essentially a vertical village and most of what comes in and out goes through just the one loading area,” Steve explains from a viewing platform on the top floor. “The road outside is also tightly controlled, so there needs to be a well managed booking process for everyone to use.
“I kept in touch with people on site after I left, and they kindly agreed to host a trial of the CurbCargo platform which began in April,” he explains.