Red Cross – Building a delivery network in two weeks


Our consultants will provide guidance regarding the possibilities of the URBANTZ platform


French Red Cross


Delivery planning and optimisation


The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented pressure on the social response systems all across the world. In France, the strict quarantine measures led to emergency circumstances with thousands of people in both urban and rural areas losing easy access to purchasing essentials and receiving medical support.

In March 2020, the French Red Cross, a humanitarian movement that unites thousands of volunteers and members, developed and prepared the launch of the “Red Cross at Your Home” project – the ordering and delivery mechanism for vulnerable people who are confined to social isolation. People in isolation all over France were given the opportunity to call a dedicated hotline to receive psychological support and sign up as a volunteer. But, more than that, they were able to order basic necessities and have them delivered by Red Cross’ volunteers the very next day.

Until then, the organisation had never tried to coordinate a nationwide delivery project. This fact, together with the urgency of the situation, proved to the Red Cross that there was a serious need in finding a reliable and agile delivery management software. In mid-March, the French Red Cross and Urbantz partnered to create an efficient delivery management system, which could start serving the solidary delivery network within 2 weeks.

Time is of the essence. We need to react faster than the pandemic.

For the first time in its history, the French Red Cross had to implement a nationwide logistics delivery system. The creation of this network was to be implemented in all 95 continental French departments, with a centralised, coordinated response from the organisation’s headquarters near Paris.

The fast rollout of the emergency response faced several challenges:

  • The French Red Cross is a decentralised organisation, with each Territorial Department’s organisation working autonomously.
  • Centralisation of all orders in one national hub. Ordersnare allocated to each of the 95 Departments for next day delivery.
  • Technical training and onboarding of volunteers who weren’t familiar with delivery operations and digital logistics tools.
  • A need for an urgent yet reliable system to start delivering “already yesterday”.

The agility of Urbantz’s system allowed the French Red Cross to launch the “Red Cross at Your Home” project within 2 weeks. In the first 7 days, 15 Regional Departments of the Red Cross started using Urbantz (including Lille, Lyon, Nice and Toulouse) to deliver 15 prearranged essential baskets and ad hoc medication. The new system could receive orders, optimise delivery routes and track deliveries performed by volunteers on the field. 

To ensure all requirements were met, and considering the specific nature of the project, Urbantz identified and changed the technical aspects of its last mile technology. In a more common configuration, each delivery hub works autonomously. In this case, as the French Red Cross centralised all the orders via their hotline, the Urbantz product team had to configure the system to have one main platform assigning orders to the correct sub platforms, representing geographical departments. It also had to consider the particularities of each platform such as the ‘configuration of the baskets’, ‘only medication delivery’ or ‘additional stops on the route’, and to ensure the training of dispatchers and drivers.

We quickly understood the scale of what we were facing. The amount of logistics work would be very big and complex. I think Urbantz was really helpful to many of the Departments. The most delivery intensive Departments were taking 3 to 4 hours a day to organise their deliveries, but with Urbantz they only took 10 or 20 minutes.

Pierre Ly, Chief of Operations, Croix-Rouge chez vous, French Red Cross

Easy to implement, easy to use.

During the lifespan of the project, the French Red Cross delivered nearly 8.3 thousand orders using Urbantz’s last mile technology, accounting for around 40% of all their deliveries during the period. On the 1st of May, the Department of Val-d’Oise registered a peak of deliveries, organising, on that day alone, the delivery of 1000 hot meals. The team of dispatchers and drivers was coordinated using Urbantz round optimisation and mobile app.


The Red Cross at Your Place was an essential part of the French Red Cross’s actions to relieve the impact of the coronavirus in the lives of people who can’t rely on anyone else, bringing them the essential goods and medicines they need. Setting up a solidary delivery network of this magnitude and reach is a complex process. Luckily, modern technological solutions, such as Urbantz, gave us great control and optimised delivery operations in an easy and prompt way.

Marie Alméras, Project Manager, Croix-Rouge Chez Vous, French Red Cross

After 3 months of intense activity and over 600 deliveries per day, the French Red Cross looks back at the success of their operations. With the ease of lockdown measures, the organisation is phasing out the delivery aspect of its COVID-19 response.

From this experience, the organisation will take what they learned, the deploying of a collaborative tech in a short time, the extensive coordination with other departments and the ability to adapt with speed and flexibility to evolving conditions, and use it for future reference.

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