Kick-off professorships within ABEL academy

On Friday 20 November, Paul van de Coevering, 'Urban Intelligence' professor, and 'Smart Cities & Logisitcs' professor Hans Quak presented their ambitions and specific plans for applied research. In a small group, but mostly digital, this marked the official start of the Smart Cities & Logistics professorship and the follow up of Urban Intelligence, which is supported by the province of Noord-Brabant. These professorships are part of the Academy for Built Environment & Logistics (ABEL) of Breda University of Applied Sciences (BUas). During this kick-off session Hans was presented with the Lodewijk van Renesse award by Jorrit Snijder. Delegate Christophe van der Maat explained how mobility is dealt with in Brabant and how part of that takes place in collaboration with BUas. Next it was Hans' and Paul's turn to go into the ideas and plans for both professorships:


With the 'Smart Cities and Logistics' professorship we focus on the question how smart logistical (re)organisation and technical and data-driven innovations can contribute to more sustainable cities. The recently launched 'Smart Cities and Logistics' professorship specifically goes into the role of urban logistics in the changing urban environment:

• in the coming years zero-emissions zones will be planned for urban logistics for the benefit of the climate, from 2025 this will also apply to cities in Brabant[1] - this is a challenge for the cities but also for all those businesses who need to enter the city with lorries and vans;

• the changing retail landscape, which is reinforced by the Covid-19 pandemic, with more and more online shopping and therefore home deliveries

• scarce space in the urban environment (the urban build challenge), more room for green areas and increased priority for pedestrians and cyclists in cities; which leads to less room for logistics.


These changes require a different organisation of urban logistics; where more needs to be bundled, fewer vehicles in the city and therefore an increase in the use of logistics hubs. Which hubs are required for which logistics stream, and where can existing hub concepts be used, is important when discussing the space claimed for urban logistics; but at this point in time this is unknown. The professorship especially focuses on three lines of research: practical issues from carriers and local policy makers regarding zero-emissions logistics in cities, innovations in last-mile (e-commerce) logistics, and the issue of logistical space in and near the cities.


The urban intelligence professorship focuses on the development of multi-modal accessible and liveable cities. Here there are three key areas. First there is empirical data analysis: we use GPS data and other forms of innovative data collection to get a clearer image of the way people move (routes, means of transportation, frequency, etc.) and of the quality of the networks (delays, detours, etc.). With this data we can create insight into the current system's performance. Secondly the focus is on the development of integral urbanisation concepts. Many cities have ambitious plans for making cities denser and aim for urban compaction, partly to manage the growth of mobility. The influence of this intensive use of space and the role of mobility HUBS in this concept will be one of the focus areas in the coming period. We will do this by developing urbanisation concepts such as Bicycle Oriented Development (BOD). With this concept we will focus on bicycle accessibility and the accessibility of the combination of bicycles and public transport when looking at new urbanisation challenges. At the local and urban level the bicycle accessibility of urban centres and locations for work and leisure is important, at the regional level the accessibility of train stations is key because the combination of bicycle and train can be a viable alternative for regional travel by car. Within this concept the mobility HUBS potential is being developed. Finally there is the link to education, science and the industry, among other things through the development of Learning Communities in the areas of HUBS and urbanisation. The fact that the Urban Intelligence professorship has been established in direct collaboration with the province of Noord-Brabant is unique. This ensures a direct link to policy development and implementation. This emphasises our position as a practice-oriented university of applied sciences. The HUBs and urbanisations learning community will take shape in the coming year as part of this collaboration.