Smart And Connected: When Parking Is No More A Quandary In Town

Smart_ParkingImagine it’s a weekend and you’ve decided to take the family out to the movies to see the latest flick.

While everyone’s excited, it soon dies down the minute you find yourself stuck in traffic. And then your patience gets further tested when you reach the theatre’s parking lot, and you waste precious time and energy looking for a parking spot or waiting for a spot to free up for you to be able to park your vehicle – a herculean task indeed if you’ve chosen to leave the house at peak hours.

According to Siemens report titled ‘Smart Parking: A System that Could Help Cities Rethink Parking’ published in 2015, one-third of traffic within cities is attributed to drivers looking for parking space. Motorists are estimated to have driven an extra 4.5 miles on average to find a parking spot contributing to an increased carbon footprint.

That’s where the internet of things (IOT) concept in parking comes in. A smart parking solution would require little to no human intervention. However, systems have been developed (and implemented in smart cities) that automate all or some of the steps involved in parking your car smartly.

Let’s look at such a system.

  • Intelligent Cities are the Next Wave of the Internet of Things

Intelligent cities are riding the next wave of IoT. The possibilities are just endless – streamlined communications that improve the lives of the citizens across challenges that include parking, traffic, congestion, transportation, street lighting, security etc. and save money along the way.

Parking

One such smart city such as San Francisco who has adopted advanced parking systems which is still in beta testing and employs sensor networks – a combination of sensors (usually mounted on streetlights and/or installed on floors), smartphone apps, GPS, RF transmitters and parking guidance sign boards – to detect real-time occupancy of parking spots and relay this information to drivers looking for space via online parking management software.

 All this is connected via an intelligent network and once the driver receives the map of the parking lot on his smartphone/tablet, he’ll be guided to the empty parking spot using satellite navigation, but not before confirming and storing in memory the parking spot. This way when the driver is done, say, running chores, he can locate his parked car and quickly unload his groceries into the vehicle without hassle. It’s a fast and secure way to park, without having the driver ever divulge his private information such as name, number plate, car make and model, etc.

Benefits of Smart Parking Systems

  • Reduction in time and traffic volume: The Siemens report found that in instances where smart parking was employed, there was a 43% decrease in time spent looking for parking spots. Also, there was a drop in traffic volume by 8% when there was easy availability of parking spots.
  • Public transport suggestion: Smart parking systems can suggest public transport alternatives when free parking space is not available.
  • Parking violations: Such a system can also communicate to law enforcers whether a driver should be issued a parking ticket for expired slots. A real example of this application is San Francisco, where officers are deployed to vehicles that have overstayed their parking time. Besides increasing efficiency, these sensors (which are weatherproof to boot) can detect parking violations that pose safety risks.
  • Environment friendly: Miles travelled while searching for parking drops by 30% according to the Siemens study consequently leading to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

In conclusion, once the uptake of smart parking systems increases, we can expect our standards of life to improve drastically. Further, as the system expands to more cities, parking efficiency is set to rise by leaps and bounds.

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