• September 09, 2020

    Smart lockers save Belltown from dwelling and delivery emissions

    Belltown residents will have an easier time receiving their packages with the launch of a smart locker system by the University of Washington’s Urban Freight Lab (UFL) in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood last August.

    UFL’s U.S. Department of Energy-funded project is part of a three-year study focused on “measuring emissions associated with moving goods,” based on “local delivery vehicle travel patterns,” according to the Belltown lockers website. Their goal is to decrease city delivery emissions and dwell time, while increasing the “productivity of load/unload parking spaces,” according to a press release. 

    This project is also in partnership with the City of Seattle, King County Metro, Sound Transit, CBRE, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, and the City of Bellevue.

    UPS, FedEx, and other major carriers can now drop packages off at UFL’s Belltown locker location, which is easily accessible, contactless, and available 24/7, so users can retrieve their items safely and at their own convenience. 

    “The explosion of online shopping has flooded the streets of Seattle and many other cities with delivery vehicles, and the trend is expected to grow even further in the coming years, resulting in increased congestion and negative environmental impacts,” UFL Manager and Research Scientist, Andisheh Ranjbari, said in a press release. “So, it is important to evaluate new solutions such as open network locker systems, to help cities mitigate the harmful impacts of increased online shopping on congestion and carbon emissions.”

    Belltown locals are invited to sign up for free online, order their packages to the Belltown pick-up location, and retrieve their items within seven days of delivery. 

    For this project, UFL is working in collaboration with Parcel Pending by Quadient, and parking magnate REEF. This isn’t the first time the UFL and Parcel Pending have teamed up; as part of an initial pilot program in 2018, the two introduced an open-network locker system to the Seattle Municipal Tower, a project that was partially funded by PacTrans. 

    The pilot aimed to reduce the number of failed first delivery attempts, in which it succeeded by completely eliminating the issue. It also “reduced [the] time needed for deliveries by 78% when compared to traditional floor-to-floor and door-to-door delivery,” according to a press release. 

    “Parcel Pending is honored to assist The Urban Freight Lab with the implementation and technical support for this research project,” SVP Business Development for Parcel Pending, Kate Reidel, said in a press release. “Our lockers provide a safe, secure and most importantly contact-free way for consumers to retrieve their online orders and packages at their convenience. We’re confident that our lockers will help expedite the overall package management process in Seattle and have a positive impact on the environment while also saving retailers and delivery services valuable time and money.”

    The UFL is “housed in the Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics Center at the University of Washington,” and is “an innovative partnership bringing together private industry, academic researchers, and public transportation agencies to solve urban freight management problems that overlay private and public spaces and control and have benefits for both,” according to their website.