NEWS - 2024/04/25

DISCO Transforms Urban Logistics Across Europe

DISCO stands for ‘Data-driven, Integrated, Syncromodal, Collaborative and Optimised urban freight meta-model for a new generation of urban logistics and planning with data sharing at European Living Labs’. This project, launched in May 2023 and lasting for 42 months, brings together 47 European partners with the goal of transforming urban freight delivery systems across Europe, making them more efficient, less polluting, and better integrated with the needs of modern cities. A total of 8 Living Labs will be developed across Europe as part of the activities, one of them being in the city of Barcelona.

Barcelona’s Living Lab will be focused on improving the operation of urban freight logistics through collaboration between the Barcelona City Council, Barcelona Serveis Municipals, City Login, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), and CARNET. The main objective consists of developing a Decision Support System (DSS) to measure, analyse, and predict the demand for freight trips in Barcelona.

Technical Details of Barcelona’s Living Lab Pilot

To develop this project, technology is a key component. Firstly, loading and unloading zones in the city will be selected to conduct the pilot. These are strategically chosen to fit the pilot requirements. Once this is ready, the deployed technology will track how these spaces are used for freight distribution and analyse their overall usage. Key technical aspects of the pilot include:

Surveillance Cameras: Strategically placed on lamp posts and traffic lights, they will be used to provide coverage of the loading and unloading zones. The installation points have been selected through an assessment of the zone layouts and their usage patterns, maximizing visibility and, therefore, the effectiveness of the detection algorithms.

Object Detection and Tracking: AI-based object detection and tracking algorithms will be used to identify vehicles in real-time as they approach and occupy the chosen loading and unloading zones. This technology will distinguish between different vehicle types, assess their dimensions, and determine their exact position within the parking area.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR): OCR technology, used to recognize text within a digital image, will be used to read license plates from vehicles using the loading and unloading zones obtained through camera footage.

In addition to all this, and to ensure that all collected data, especially license plate information, is processed in a way that protects individual privacy, anonymization techniques are incorporated into the process. This means that while the system can identify and track vehicles for operational purposes, the identity of the vehicle owner remains protected, in line with the data protection regulation.

Moreover, the goal of this test and overall project is purely research-focused, aiming to explore innovative solutions for urban logistics without a punitive approach. Therefore, the collected data will not be used to penalize users.

As urban landscapes continue to grow, the challenges related to traffic congestion, air pollution, and the sustainability of urban logistics have become increasingly important. Addressing these challenges is crucial for enhancing the quality of urban life and ensuring environmental sustainability. To solve these pressing issues, the DISCO project was born to assist cities in their transition towards decarbonization and digitalization by boosting innovation in urban logistics and sustainable planning.