Parking is an inevitable part of city life. Yet with an increase in vehicles and limited parking space, finding a place to park in the city has its share of difficulties and challenges. Luckily, smart parking, enabled with various connected devices and sensors, can now help in this regard.
A smart parking navigation system has numerous advantages, the biggest of which is a reduction in both traffic and carbon emissions. “The benefits of single space monitoring parking guidance systems are considerable: a 2 to 5 percent increase in efficiency for search times and reducing bottlenecks,” said Manu Tayal, General Manager of the IoT Center of Excellence at Happiest Minds Technologies. “CO2 is also reduced by as much as 250,000 pounds a year based on a 1,000 car garage.”
Easier guidance also translates into monetary value. “A 10 percent reduction in congestion will increase a city’s GDP by percent. We can extrapolate that smart parking like ours can create up to a US$20 billion GDP increase in a city like Los Angeles,” said Kurt Buecheler, SVP of Marketing and Business Development at Streetline, citing economist Donald Shoup.
A smart parking guiding system is primarily consisted of sensors that detect empty space and transmit the data to the backend, which then relays that information to the user’s app or a signage system.
There are primarily two types of sensors now in use: ultrasound and magnetic. Ultrasonic sensors are typically used for indoor parking, transmitting sound waves at a frequency in range of 25 to 50 KHz, which are above the human audible range. The detectors connect to the control terminal via wither wired (RS485) or wireless (433 MHz frequency). The control terminal can connect to the Ethernet network.
For city street parking, sensors used are typically battery powered magnetic detectors buried underground. “The device has a fixed magnetic measurement range of ±1200 μT. Output data rates from 1.563 Hz to 800 Hz are selectable by the user for each sensor. The sensor is guaranteed to operate over the extended temperature range of –40°C to +85°C,” said Tayal.
Some solution providers, meanwhile, add a second technology, typically infrared, to magnetic sensors to enhance their accuracy. “Magnetic field-based sensing is very easily affected by many factors, for example big pieces of metal nearby, many types of electrical field disturbances, the type of roading/aggregate in concrete/tarmac which happens to be magnetic, or even common off the shelf magnets in the vicinity,” said Emily Armstrong, Marketing Manager at Smart Parking. “Our sensors use magnetic detection to trigger the verification of a vehicle presence via the IR sensor if the magnetic sensor detects a change above a certain threshold.”
According to Mr Luo, Parking Solution Manager at ATB Technology, magnetic detectors connect to the control terminal via only wireless. “There are two wireless connection solutions, the short distance solution and NB-IoT. For short distance solution, the magnetic detectors connect to the nearby controller via 433 MHz frequency wireless. The controllers connect via mobile operators' networks. For NB-IoT solution, every magnetic detector could connect to the NB-IOT network which may run by the mobile operators. Thus, NB-IoT solution is an ideal choice for large-scale IoT application,” Luo said.
Besides the aforementioned technologies that are more traditional, video is increasingly used as a sensor to detect available parking as well. “The cameras help to identify whether or not there is available space,” said Ada Wu, Marketing manager for Vertical Solutions. “Information including the number of available parking lots and their locations will be showcased in our parking map in real-time. Users can use their app to find available parking lots, and the system will calculate the fastest way to guide the drivers for parking.”