Serious gaming for City Logistics: Recommendations for municipalities

Master thesis Waël Hag Shamas

In the Netherlands, in the context of the Climate Agreement, the goal has been set to introduce zero emission zones for city logistics within 30-40 cities by 2025. This transition of  Dutch cities will lead to  a variety of  spatial issues for governments, municipalities and logistics parties. Raising  a multitude of different questions concerning the integration of logistics and its relation to the livability within cities. The aim is  that deliveries and other logistical movements can take place efficiently with minimal impact on the living environment as well as being climate neutral.

  I have chosen to investigate how the implementation of a serious game at the early phase of planning could help decision makers as well as the diverse group of  stakeholders  map and identify the main obstacles these developments can face. Looking into the transferability and scaling-up of successful logistics alternatives and solutions  that could facilitate last mile deliveries and urban freight movement. The focus has been set on the different concepts that already exist and  try to identify the current barriers that they might face  with regard to the integration in urban space.

    By looking into how serious games can be further promoted and how they can enable the disconnection  and decoupling between transport to cities and within cities. This research was conducted  during my internship at TNO within the project of CILOLAB, a living lab project for sustainable city logistics, taking the future development of the Spoorzone in the city of Zwolle as case study  and focusing on the  decoupling of logistics transport and more efficient freight vehicle movements.

There are many uncertainties that still surround the implementation of emission free zones for some municipalities. TNO can potentially assist these municipalities by building a database of the available solutions and calculation tools that can be helpful for decision makers. Smaller municipalities might not have the same capacities or ambitious plans that the bigger more urbanised ones have, but the role of transferring know-how and knowledge can be  important in helping them achieve better goals. This can be done by the means of sessions which can start with a  focus group setting in which the serious gaming method can be applied.

     This helps identify the level of awareness that the stakeholders have as well as the local issues and obstacles that can face some of the solutions that TNO has already presented or implemented in other municipalities. For Policy makers the added value would be the acquiring of knowledge and best practices from previous successful solutions for freight vehicle movements, as well, identifying the willingness of stakeholders to take action on this matter. Further research should look into more solutions per segment, especially the waste segment of freight. The aim would be to build a sort of repository of multiple logistic solutions that can be tailored and presented to each specific case study. The serious game can be seen as a useful tool to initiate the first contacts with a new municipality or project as it works well at breaking the ice and getting participants to express themselves freely and brainstorm together. It can be further developed by more realistic or accurate calculation models that can better simulate the actions and consequences of each intervention that the players decide to make.   

    The added value it brings to TNO is that it’s a tool that can be utilized in mapping the willingness of stakeholders to work together and sketch an early idea of what is possible within the given project. It also is a learning tool that can help TNO spread awareness and knowledge about the impact of freight as well as the knowledge it can offer. This first session could pave the way for follow up sessions in which the results of the first sessions are further developed and discussed but in a more realistic and concrete way. Therefore the serious game can be seen as a useful tool that provides a lot of data and can sketch an idea of the dynamics of decision making process within a given project, be used as a learning tool and finally can help identify obstacles and specific issues related to a project at an early stage.