In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ViaVan, the company that provides digital infrastructure to power public mobility across Europe, and Sutton Council, have partnered to leverage ViaVan’s demand-responsive transport technology to fulfill and optimise emergency food and supply delivery to more than 1,000 vulnerable residents in London’s Borough of Sutton.
ViaVan’s technology was previously used to power GoSutton, a demand-responsive bus service in the Borough, and now, ViaVan has deployed its intelligent delivery platform technology to automate the operations behind parcel distribution at scale. ViaVan’s technology ensures reliable routing and delivery of emergency parcels to those in need, with support from volunteer drivers. The project is supported by funding recently awarded to ViaVan by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, as part of its “Fast Start Competition”, launched to encourage the introduction of innovations borne out of the coronavirus crisis from technology start-ups.
The introduction of ViaVan’s technology has played a key role in improving the speed, efficiency, and scalability of Sutton Council’s response to the increased demand for deliveries from vulnerable residents impacted by COVID-19. Since the launch on May 2, the turnaround time for a single vehicle load of deliveries has been cut in half as volunteers no longer need to line up to register, and receive parcel information and routing through the mobile app upon arrival at the hub. This means that volunteers can complete more delivery trips in the same amount of time, which is essential as scale grows and some volunteers find themselves going back to work.
“The Council made a commitment to deliver food and essential items to those who need them most during these times. Given the scale of the challenge we quickly realised we needed to change how we work to deliver what was needed,” said Councillor Ruth Dombey, Leader of Sutton Council.
“Using ViaVan’s technology has helped our staff and volunteers deliver food parcels to residents more efficiently. Our delivery of the food parcels is working during this demanding period and we are sending out 700+ parcels a week to those in need throughout the borough. We know residents receiving their weekly provisions are extremely grateful for this service.”
“We are pleased to be able to help our communities in times of need. Our partnership with Sutton Council demonstrates how dynamic and digitally-enabled solutions can utilise existing infrastructure to support new needs, in this case the movement of critical goods,” said Chris Snyder, CEO of ViaVan. “This model represents an opportunity for cities and towns across the UK to look to technology to rapidly scale and optimise operations for delivery services for those in need.”
Volunteers supporting delivery efforts log into a mobile app which tells them which parcels to collect. Once on the road, volunteers travel an efficient route determined by ViaVan’s algorithms to drop off all items. Residents benefit from a text notification, the ability for drivers to call residents safely without exposing the resident's personal data, and contactless delivery in line with health guidelines.
ViaVan, and parent company Via, are partnering with dozens of municipalities, public transit agencies, healthcare organizations, and nonprofits around the world to support mobility for essential healthcare workers and parcel delivery, and to help utilise existing transit infrastructure during this time of emergency. In Berlin, ViaVan and Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) rapidly adapted the popular BerlKönig on-demand public transportation service to serve essential healthcare workers exclusively. In the UK, ViaVan and Go-Coach transformed and accelerated the launch of a demand-responsive bus service in Kent to temporarily replace all fixed-route bus lines, both reducing cost and servicing essential rides.
ViaVan is the leading provider of innovative on-demand shared transit services in Europe. ViaVan was founded in 2017 as a joint venture between Via, the world’s most sophisticated developer of dynamic shared ride technology, and Mercedes-Benz Vans, the leading manufacturer of iconic passenger and cargo vans. Working closely with cities and public transit operators, ViaVan powers dynamic mobility services that complement existing transportation infrastructure. ViaVan operates direct-to-consumer services and on-demand services in partnership with major public transit authorities, including the BerlKönig with Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG). Through their partnership, Mercedes-Benz Vans and Via are also collaborating on the development of advanced mobility solutions, from sensor technology, to electric vehicle fleet management, to autonomous driving. With more than 100 launched and pending deployments in 20 countries, Via and ViaVan have provided more than 80 million rides to date. For more information, visit www.viavan.com.