MIT researchers are working on a potentially massive public-access database of metrics like retail density and delivery frequency.
Picture this chain of events: people in small homes aren't able to store as much food as people in larger homes, so they purchase groceries more. That behavior leads them to prefer buying from neighborhood stores, which might be smaller and unable to stock as much as huge supermarkets. And that, in turn, means delivery trucks will need to come more often.
This scenario is a classic example of the complex urban systems that the MIT Megacities Logistics Lab is trying to study. The question of supply chains has historically focused on highly industrialized cities like New York, London, or Tokyo, even though the fastest-paced urbanization happening today is in emerging markets like China or Brazil.
That’s why the Lab is developing Km2, a public-access database that maps logistics systems (including retail space, parking areas, deliveries, and traffic disruptions) in rapidly developing cities around the world.