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Smart parking
systems: Better
living through
smart parking

Author: Greta Knappenberger

In a car-based economy, parking is critical. People need to know they’ll have a nearby place to park when they go to work, head to the store, or go into the city for entertainment. However, with more and more drivers on the road, parking has never been at a higher premium. Where once you could expect to find a parking spot on every street in the country, drivers now find parking spots being converted into bike lanes, green spaces, food truck locations, and loading zones.

The more time it takes to find a parking spot, the more a community loses the productivity of workers and potential economic activity from shoppers. Not only that, cars circling the street lead to more pollution, traffic congestion, frustrated drivers and community members alike.

By using parking optimization, cities can provide drivers with the information they need to park intelligently. This not only saves drivers time and frustration, but gets cars off the road faster, reducing congestion and making the streets more usable for pedestrians and travelers.

How smart parking optimization works

Parking optimization, also known as smart parking, relies on IoT-enabled sensors and video connected through fast, reliable networks to monitor both on-street and garage parking to analyze trends over time. By collecting and connecting all your parking data together in the cloud, city managers, parking lot operators, city planners, traffic enforcement and others can access the key metrics they need to understand occupancy and turnover in real-time to better understand parking patterns.

Using this data, parking operators can optimize their pricing structures to both maximize revenue and steer demand to open spots. By understanding the impact of time of day, weather, special events, a new business or building opening in the neighborhood and other factors, cities can determine where to expand or contract available parking, where to focus parking violation enforcement efforts, and how to optimize projects to reduce disruption.

In addition, this information can be shared with drivers’ devices to help them find nearby available spots while they’re still on the way, instead of manually searching for a spot once they get there. Digital signs outside parking garages can be updated with real-time data on available parking spots so that drivers know which garages to go into.

In addition, the data you gather can be used to better understand where you need parking, and just as importantly, where you don’t. For example, if you are seeking to put in a bike lane, you may discover that one street has far more demand for parking than a parallel street a few blocks away. This will allow you to put the bike lane on the street that will cause the least disruption to drivers, making bike commutes safer in the process.

Smart parking for the self-driving future

With the rise of autonomous vehicles, parking is about to undergo a sea change in the way cities allocate and manage these scarce resources. Connected cars that are able to wirelessly tap into a city’s cloud-based parking database will be able to reserve, pay for, and park in an available spot, all without human intervention.

At the same time, autonomous vehicles may be able to drop the passenger right outside their destination and then go park far away where there is more space and less demand for parking. Another scenario is that car ownership decreases as people shift to Cars as a Service, impacting how cities plan for and allocate parking altogether.

In any case, it will be key for cities and parking operators to understand the shift in demand this technology will bring to maximize parking optimization. The more you understand how smart parking is being used now, the smarter decisions you’ll be able to make when it comes time to adapt smart parking to the realities of self-driving vehicles.

Learn more about Verizon's solutions for smart cities.

Greta Knappenberger drives the strategy, solution and technology advocacy for Verizon's IOT & Smart Communities transportation offerings, which provide modern approaches to cities’ traffic challenges.