What Future for Smart Parking?
By Geoffrey Garnier
What does the city of tomorrow look like?
The city of tomorrow, which calls itself “smart,” will implement connected solutions (thanks to sensors, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, etc.) that will collect a set of usable and concrete data to make the best possible decisions.
The benefits for these cities are multiple: first, it allows them to improve the engagement of public authorities and citizens by providing solutions that involve them and offer them a better quality of life. But also, to solve their environmental problems with solutions that are ecologically oriented.
Cities are therefore more connected, efficient in their decision making and eco-responsible.
North American cities are particularly ahead of the curve on this smart city concept with the aim of improving their productivity as well as their connectivity. Many of them have joined the Cities for Climate Protection™ campaign organized by the UN, which commits them to implementing eco-responsible solutions to promote the climate transition. Of the 650 participating municipalities, nearly half are North American: 159 are American and 133 are Canadian.
Some sobering parking figures…
95%, 17h, 900,000 tons… But what do these numbers correspond to? These figures are all related to parking and are the results of different studies around the world:
- 95%? The time that a private vehicle remains in a parking space. (International Parking Institute, Why parking matters, 2015)
- 17h? The average time a typical user spends looking for a parking space over the course of a year. And that same average is 107 hours in New York. (INRIX, The Impact of Parking Pain in the US, UK, and Germany, 2017)
- 900,000 tons? Greenhouse gas emissions that can be avoided through smart parking solutions. (Köln auf dem Weg zur Smart City, 2017)
These figures can be thought-provoking.
Indeed, parking lots are very often neglected and little or not at all exploited to the detriment of other assets. Its importance is underestimated, and municipalities do not see the potential of connected solutions and therefore do not invest in them.
On the other hand, these connected solutions can greatly improve the quality of life of a fellow citizen.
To illustrate this, let’s take intelligent guidance as an example. Instead of looking for a parking space for several minutes, or even tens of minutes, the user will simply follow a panel indicating that there are still parking spaces available at a given location. Reducing search time also means reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In addition to improving the quality of life of its citizens, this is also an eco-responsible approach.
Let’s push our thinking to the limit. Having installed this dynamic guidance solution in a municipality, or simply a neighborhood, has allowed us to reduce the time it takes to find a parking space and the number of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the vehicle.
This example is one of many. There are many different solutions that can be implemented to make a city and a parking lot a little more intelligent every day.
Establishing a car-sharing dynamic will reduce the amount of time a private vehicle will remain parked.
Innovations and the future of parking
Research shows that within a decade, not only cities, but all parking lots will be intelligent and equipped with solutions that will guide users from their starting point to the nearest free parking space to their destination.
Since the pandemic, we are facing new behaviors as well as new forms of mobility: working from home, car sharing, carpooling, increased use of public transportation or other more ecological transportation such as bicycles or electric scooters. Parking facilities will also have to take this into account and adapt to it.
The « old » parking lots, dark, without panels, without charging stations for electric vehicles, without bicycles shelters and with very archaic methods of payment, are already beginning to be abandoned in favor of new parking lots, which are emerging but with a futuristic look.
These new parking lots have a design that looks like anything but a parking lot. They are open, airy, have dynamic panels and lights to guide and indicate whether spaces are occupied or available. Several floors accommodate a variety of users: electric vehicles, car sharing vehicles, “family” vehicles, carpooling vehicles, places to park and lock your bike. Managers are going even further, creating pedestrian zones, or even transforming their parking lot for a weekend into a playground or ceremony room to host fashion show.
These parking lots are on the rise and will continue to shine thanks to their innovative solutions but also thanks to their different uses.
About the Author
Geoffrey Garnier, Solutions Hesion Canada Inc. can be reached at 514-503-1638 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.