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Develop A Rideshare/Freightshare Layer Across Existing Local Delivery Vehicles

Digitize the delivery grid to fill empty commercial vehicle space: mitigate deadheading, increase access in low-demand areas, and cut costs.

Photo of Mitch Turck
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Efficiency is a core tenet of sustainable mobility, and one of the simplest methods to increase efficiency is to increase transparency. So, where is transparency most lacking? Business.

Across Pittsburgh, there are thousands of vehicles at any given moment delivering goods or employees to a wide array of local destinations, and doing so without even the slightest interest in external coordination. Pizza delivery drivers, couriers, and traveling salespeople pass each other along the same route, each with ample room to haul the others -- or haul something else. It's the nature of a competitive market to overlook these redundancies, but it means business traffic is squandered data: no one outside of each individual business knows the routes and destinations, so no efficiencies can be realized.

Those days of inefficiency are numbered, as big tech is beginning to eat up the logistics of shipping. Amazon, Uber, even Walmart's attempt to turn employees into part-time delivery drivers -- these are major players building a next-generation transportation grid right under the noses of city officials (who have an archaic idea of what infrastructure is) and business owners (who are easily swayed by short-term gains.)

If a region likes the idea of handing transportation management over to a private corporation, then this is a fine way to do it. But assuming that's not the case, cities like Pittsburgh need to get in the game, keeping the grid's goals aligned to community benefit, keeping mom & pop shops viable, and offering a productive/proactive approach to collaboration with logistics/transportation tech companies. As a pilot, this could come to fruition over 9-12 months through a phased approach (described below in the Pilot Design section.)

Describe who will use your solution (1,000 characters)

MaaS Providers & Governments: cities would work with independent mobility-as-a-service providers to develop their own operations layer for the new age of transportation infrastructure, ensuring they have a data-driven seat at the table as transportation infrastructure goes digital. Local Businesses: SMBs would digitize their vehicle routes to become part of a public routing grid, from which each business could reap the benefit of finding lower-cost shipping options, minimize dead-heading, or taking on additional freight/riders as an additional revenue stream. Residents: low-access/low-mobility civilians would be gifted an entirely new layer of affordable on-demand transportation options, many of which would originate or terminate in unusual destinations not typically served by mass transit. In this way, the benefit is also received by the broader tax base, as the grid's existence decreases the need to expand traditional transportation infrastructure into low-demand areas.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Initial Design - you are still exploring the idea and have not tested it with users

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

I've been covering the future of mobility (specifically, autonomous vehicles) independently for the past four years, writing for Forbes.com and Medium.com. Previously, I launched a startup called Vandal (through Project Olympus and Launch House Accelerator) which was built to digitize a community's tribal knowledge in order to nurture the success and engagement of local businesses. I have no financial stake in the success of this proposal.

Size of your team or organization

  • I am submitting as an individual

Funding Request

  • $75,000

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

Phase 1. Bring as many individual shipping/traveling business routes online as possible, turning an off-grid pizza delivery into a timed & tracked route. The city can provide such incentives (tax breaks, new policy, revenue opportunities -- see Phase 2) to ensure businesses will be rewarded for community impact. Phase 2. Use the knowledge gained from the collaborative grid to offer up supply for businesses who want to share hauling routes, residents who want to share riding routes, etc. Many local businesses operate at <5% net profit; this grants them the opportunity to double or triple their revenues on a delivery by picking up a resident nearby or pooling freight with another company. Phase 3. Use this established grid as leverage to work with any logistics company seeking to enter the local market (e.g. Amazon). $75k allocation: - $30k to license a routing service (e.g. Ridecell) - $25k to service the pilot program & users - $10k to draft legal docs - $10k for marketing

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)

Phase 1: # of businesses and business routes brought online Phase 2: # of resident trips served and % of repeat trips; residents' satisfaction with the transit option; business' satisfaction with revenue opportunity and cost-reduction opportunity; $ of business productivity gained and % of repeat business users Phase 3: Critical mass of business participation and resident participation; # of and % of favorable private-public partnerships and deals attributed to strength of the public grid; # of other cities adopting the public grid model; residents' and business' satisfaction with model's integration of other transit modes (bus/rail/private car/etc.)

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Photo of Idrees Mutahr
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Very interesting idea Mitch, I am one of the facilitators for Pittsburgh, I'm glad to see that you created a challenge submission from your idea post in the explore phase!