Most cities have patterns of transport where daytime commuting and business peaks are interchanged with nighttime goods transport. Although we are most aware of daytime congestion and pollution through transport, we should not forget that transport at night also contributes to these problems -albeit on a lesser scale.
What is needed is environmentally sound means of transport offering cheap, coordinated transport to all major goods firms and stores. A smarter city would have either a municipal goods transport system, or a ‘transport exchange’, where goods suppliers bid for routes and cooperate with each other in order to avoid high road-pricing tariffs.
Receipt and dispatch notifications would be sent and processed in real time between automated warehouses, goods depots, city docks and railheads. Smart choreography would ensure a minimum of congestion, a minimum of inefficiency and minimum pollution.
Challenges for this model would be -like so many others- interoperability of systems (RFID, barcode standards, CCDs, etc.) In some ways we would also need to build on the existing EDI (end-to-end) methods to inter-operate with city systems.