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The advent of crowdshipping

Fancy the library coming to you, and saving an unnecessary car journey? A Sitra pilot in Jyväskylä explores the crowdsourcing of transport...


The City of Jyväskylä is trialling the outsourcing of transport services to citizens. One partner in the pilot scheme is the city’s library, which is offering free home deliveries of books to its customers.

In March, Jyväskylä City Library began a new pilot project allowing library users to order books for delivery direct to their front door. They can also return books for free via the same transport service. The trial is part of the Towards Resource Wisdom initiative of Sitra and the City of Jyväskylä, and it is intended to make citizens’ lives easier while reducing car traffic.

This “crowdsourcing” of transport services means that ordinary people can take items from one place to another while doing their everyday travel, along routes that suit them.

“Online sales, online auctions, sharing and borrowing are increasing at a fast pace. Thanks to advanced IT and mobile technology it is not necessary to create a separate transport network or system for these; instead, we can make use of existing vehicles and their carrying capacity,” says Leading Specialist Lari Rajantie from Sitra. “This means that goods are moved without any increase in traffic or emissions. Crowdsourced transport will be a common aspect of life in the future and is already a growing phenomenon in the United States.”

Crowdsourced transportation, also known as “crowdshipping”, is becoming increasingly common all around the world. In Stockholm, the delivery firm DHL has included it in its service selection, seeking suitable potential drivers using a mobile application. In the United States, Wal-Mart is planning the same for deliveries of goods to its customers.

“Crowdshipping is in many ways an efficient method of taking care of unavoidable transport. It may increase demand for many goods and services, as home delivery makes them easier to buy. In the long run the objective is to reduce car traffic,” Rajantie says.

The Jyväskylä library pilot is intended to test how the crowdsourcing of transport works in practice, and to find out the requirements and challenges faced by new services of this kind in Finland. The pilot will be carried out by the PiggyBaggy ride-sharing service and RePack, which specialises in reusable packaging.

“It is exciting to be testing something here at the Jyväskylä library that hasn’t been tested anywhere else in Finland,” says Online Service Designer Juha Hälinen from the Jyväskylä City Library. “It is wonderful if we can get customers to transport each other’s books. Home deliveries will make using the library even easier than before. We continuously receive complaints concerning the limited parking available at the library, and this may be a solution to that problem, too.”

Read more about the Bringing the library home! project and find practical instructions (in Finnish) for using the service.

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