Data-Driven Accessible Micro-Logistics Authenticated with Smart Contracts Using Satellites
The UK domestic parcels market is highly fragmented with 16 major national carriers, delivering in excess of 2.5 billion parcels in 2020. Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated home-working and e-commerce trends.
Many local deliveries remain unconsolidated, and therefore generate higher driver mileage than necessary, creating inefficiencies and negative environmental impacts. Even if a customer orders two items from the same retailer, they often receive two separate deliveries.
The Galileo program is Europe’s initiative for a state-of-the-art global satellite navigation system (GNSS), providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control and the first to offer authenticated navigation messages to all civilian users in the world, free of charge; i.e. open- source.
Blockchain technology and its Smart Contract capabilities is already well- established as a promising solution for governments and the supply-chain; to enable shared business processes that require high levels of trust, transparency and accountability. This includes major government backed programs by the EU, US, India and China.
Our proposed research, funded through the UKRI’s SBRI programme, explored the feasibility of a micro-logistics platform for last-mile delivery consolidation operations. Increased real-time visibility and transparency of contractual arrangements and parcel tracking data will enable greater efficiency in managing deliveries and minimise the overall transport costs and carbon footprint.
It examined new capabilities arising from fusion of satellite based authenticated timing and positioning with blockchain technology, combining the baked-in cryptography of both systems to provide a secure and efficient micro-logistics solution.
An initial design of a blockchain-based framework has been developed, oriented around the consumer, retailer, carriers, local couriers, micro-consolidation-centre (MCC) and smart contracts.
With the cities of Stratford-upon-Avon and Canterbury as our test-bed locations, we answered key feasibility questions, including:
- How many trips can we save?
- How can we improve the transparency, accountability and data authenticity of parcel orders?
- How can we enable trusted contractual arrangements?
- How can we lower the cost barrier for establishing MCCs?
The project succeeded in incubating a high-level concept into a detailed business case for public-private sector investment. To carry the business opportunity forward, TravelSpirit and Iconic Blockchain have formed a Joint Venture, Damascus Mile. Damascus Mile is now supported by a range of community and local authority organisations, including:
Stratford District Council, Stratford Town Council and Stratforward BID
Solihull Metropolitan Council
Royal Leamington Spa BID
Warwickshire County Council
Transport for West Midlands
Canterbury City Council
Kent County Council
Transport for London
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