Big cities, big challenges

Working with the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, Dr. Edgar Blanco leads the Megacity Logistics Lab, a project that examines supply chains within the world’s largest and fastest growing urban centers. 

Led by Dr. Edgar Blanco of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, the MIT Megacity Logistics Lab is conducting research into how changes in the operations of supply chains can reduce the environmental footprint of some of the world’s largest and fastest growing cities.

The Megacities project was inspired by Blanco’s experience in Latin America, where fast growing urban centers present unique sustainability challenges. “Look at Mexico City or Sao Paulo and you see that they have much greater population density than New York or Chicago,” he says. “But unlike many North American and European cities, where transportation networks and infrastructure support larger retailers, these cities are served by multiple neighborhood shops – each supplied by trucks that block roads and release pollutants.”

With financial support from the Itaù Fund and other sources, Blanco and his team are currently studying supply chains in Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, Beijing, Santiago and Bogota. “Researchers are literally walking the streets, watching how stores operate and how trucks park,” he says. “We’re very early in the process, but we hope that eventually we’ll be able to create a template for more efficient city design and policy.”