Parking

Let’s park city congestion problems

By: Matt Simmons, EMEA Marketing Director at INRIX
Published: Tuesday, June 16, 2015 - 13:13 GMT Jump to Comments

We all know how frustrating it is to find that elusive parking space. But it’s not until we quantify our frustrations that parking becomes a very real problem.

Recent research by Frost and Sullivan found that Londoners spend just over three days (76 hours) every year looking for a parking space.

60 percent of drivers abandon their search at least once, and, worse still, the economic impact of this amounts to almost £1 billion a year.

It also has an impact on congestion. Up to 30 percent of traffic in congested urban areas is caused by people looking for parking, and this is only expected to increase given that urban populations continue to rise.

In London alone, the population is expected to increase from 8.4 million to 10.1 million in 2030. By taking the initiative to implement intelligent parking in the cities of tomorrow, planners are one step closer to tackling the traffic congestion problem as people are able to find parking faster.

Parking solutions 2.0

Of course, there are smart parking solutions already out there. For example, last year Madrid said it would introduce smart parking meters to tackle the congestion problem, and Boston recently announced it would be doing the same to manage the availability of on-street parking.

As smart parking metres are able to change their prices according to location, time of day and day of the week, cities can achieve the goal of keeping a certain percentage of spaces vacant in any given area.

Such initiatives, however, rely heavily on sensors in individual parking spaces to determine availability. These are expensive to install, and alternative solutions like hiring people to count inventory are inefficient and only provide a snapshot of one point in time.

In short, this mixture of hiring people to count cars in spots on streets, smart meter data and sensor-based systems has achieved limited success in helping cities manage parking inventory.

Perhaps, then, a big data led solution could be the answer to the parking problem that city planners are looking for.

We built this city on data

Our use of big data is still in the early stages but you just have to look at the opportunities big data driven solutions can offer to see how they could revolutionise cities.

For example, every time Londoners touch in and out using their Oyster cards, information about where they are going, how and when is captured. This vast amount of data tells us things about how the city moves that we never knew before.

In fact, London is going one step further and opening up this information to app developers, who can then translate this data into something meaningful for the city goer.

Transport for London makes the real time location of tubes and buses publically available on its website and, consequently, we have seen the introduction of around 360 apps.

Such initiatives makes London a prime example of how big data can arm urban populations with the information they need to change their behaviours for the better. For example, by linking this vast dataset to smartphones and GPS systems, improvements can be made to traffic management and, as a result, congestion can be reduced.

We can apply this same principle to parking, analysing and utilising billions of data points to make an app that benefits not only drivers and their frustrations of finding a space, but also city planners in the building of a smarter city.

This can be achieved by aggregating data from cities, mobile payment companies, real-time parking data, connected car-sharing services, and a vast supply of real-time vehicle GPS data.

Drivers who have this information available to them in their cars have access to real time on-street parking availability. They can also see city and payment transaction data to provide a more comprehensive view of the parking situation in a city.

For smart city planners and transport agencies, intelligent parking solutions such as these offer faster, more cost-effective ways for cities to manage parking.

With a more comprehensive understanding of parking inventory usage citywide, urban planners can gain insights that help them improve parking conditions and locations, and better locate special purpose lanes for bicycles and public transit on city streets.

Intelligent solutions get smarter

London’s use of big data will revolutionise the way people move around the city, and intelligent parking solutions will play a big part of this.

No one wants to spend three days in their car looking for a parking space, so much so that 40 percent of drivers have said they would like their next navigation system to help them find parking.

With smart parking solutions driven by big data, drivers will have access to insights they’ve never had before. As they spend less time stuck in traffic as a result of intelligent parking solutions, the less it will cost them and city economies in fuel and wasted time.

With cost savings for both cities and drivers, as well as a reduction in traffic congestion, surely a data driven solution to the parking problem is a no-brainer.

Image: Flickr, oatsy40

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Information Daily, its parent company or any associated businesses.

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