Parking Solutions

Adopting ITS for smarter urban parking

Smart initiatives such as the adoption of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) offer considerable benefits for the urban parking segment. ITS solutions can be deployed to allow travellers to find parking slots through quicker and simpler methods. They involve using technology to detect vehicles entering and exiting parking spaces, communicating this information to servers, and processing and analysing the raw data to deliver directions and parking information to the end-user.

In such an ITS framework, smart parking systems can provide several benefits. First, the identification of parking spaces by customers can provide them with easy access to local businesses. This in turn offers economic benefits to businesses in the form of increased sales and revenues. Directions to parking spaces through mobile applications and signboards can also lead to better utilisation of off-street parking facilities. Further, this can reduce the time taken to search for parking spaces, resulting in less congestion on roads and reduced carbon emissions. Smart parking technologies can also be utilised for better law enforcement. They can aid in identifying non-compliant users and enable faster and accurate ticketing. In addition, these technologies can also enable city planners and governments to better understand parking behaviour and model their policies accordingly. Collection of quality data on parking space occupancies can also lead to better decision making by parking service providers. Central data control authorities can use the data to analyse parameters such as parking bay occupancy per area and time of day, and for revenue management and the identification of non-paying cars.

Smart parking tools

Smart parking technology is deployed through the use of both hardware and software tools. Hardware tools comprise sensors, cameras and access controls. These detection devices can be used to count and identify the number of cars entering or leaving a parking space. At the same time, sensors can be installed within a parking bay to detect when cars are parked over them. Relay equipment such as control boxes, repeaters and Wi-Fi connections can transfer such real-time data to a central parking database. This data can be analysed and displayed on digital signage equipment such as variable message signs and illuminated street panels. This will allow service providers to give drivers information on spaces available in various parking zones. Hardware equipment such as handheld devices can also be utilised by enforcement officials to identify and penalise non-compliant  users of a parking bay.

Besides this, smart parking technology also relies on software tools. These can be customer-facing tools, such as mobile applications which allow e-payment, and parking space identification and reservation; or government-facing software such as e-enforcement, and reporting and analytics software.

Challenges faced

The implementation of such smart parking initiatives in India is constrained by several challenges. The absence of a robust billing platform and unified revenue management system could lead to revenue leakages. Environmental factors such as temperature and atmospheric conditions affect the operations of vehicle detection devices. Moreover, as interoperability between devices remains low, the integration of devices may prove to be a difficult task. In addition, there is no proper enforcement policy in place to ensure the security of on-site parking meters.

Conclusion

ITS deployment has the potential to completely change the process of car parking in India. While urbanisation and economic growth increase traffic congestion levels in urban areas, smart parking initiatives can provide an effective solution to the problem. However, the potential challenges must be kept in mind while deploying such technologies. In addition, smart parking providers will also have to remodel their technologies to cater to the large two-wheeler traffic segment. Service providers will also have to carefully analyse the right technology, weigh its cost and benefits and not just deploy technology for the sake of doing so.

Based on a presentation

by Saurabh Kothari, Senior Executive, Business Development, Logix, ITS India LLP, at a recent India Infrastructure conference

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