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How We Work

How We Work

An innovative public-private partnership housed at the University of Washington, the Urban Freight Lab (UFL) is a strategic workgroup with a bias for action. We offer a unique space to explore urban freight research topics in a trusted and neutral environment. Our members and partners agree to work together under the values expressed below.

This is how we work.


Research priorities at the UFL are established through a democratic process with our members and partners. Our membership comprises a diverse spectrum of stakeholders, including shippers, carriers, real estate entities, urban visionaries, and infrastructure and technology providers.


While members may join throughout the year, it is crucial to maintain momentum continuously. While we make efforts to assist new members in catching up, previous decisions are not revisited. To ensure both continuity and progress, members designate a dedicated staff member with in-depth knowledge of operations, strategic goals, and decision-making authority to attend quarterly meetings. Members are also encouraged to engage between meetings based on their areas of interest.


While we thrive on creative ideas and actively generate them, our approach distinguishes between ideas and proven strategies. We believe in piloting urban logistics solutions and conducting rigorous evaluations before endorsing them as effective strategies. We are committed to scientific rigor, data-driven understanding, and using all available data (even generating our own if necessary) to inform our decision-making process. Members contribute data voluntarily, determining what and how to share.


In addition to theoretical work, we believe that practical tests of ideas are an essential part of solution development. As such, we spearhead and collaborate on real-world tests of strategies that align with our goals.

In Partnership with Cities

Municipal governments provide, manage, and steward our shared infrastructure, and are charged with representing all segments of the community (neighborhoods, organizations, and businesses) and uphold equitable and ethical decision-making. The UFL’s role is to support cities in this work, applying a systems engineering approach to address logistics problems that straddle cities’ and businesses’ spheres of control.


Our mission is to catalyze improvements in the urban freight systems. As such, reports and tools developed from our work are readily accessible on our website. We are forthcoming about failures as well as successes, and we collaborate with peer institutions and publications to undergo rigorous critical reviews of our work.


The UFL is focused on solving problems, with our work stemming from the topic areas identified and prioritized by our members and partners. We are impartial toward specific technologies or providers, seeking evidence that these solutions can alleviate existing challenges. Solutions are recommended based on demonstrable benefits provided.

How We Work: Members from Ford Motor Company, Kroger, and U.S. Postal Service describe the Urban Freight Lab as a venue to share and solve problems and integrate public and private sector partners.