Easy Parking

Be it a smartphone, car or street lamp, digital assistants in parking lot management aid drivers in finding a parking space simply and quickly.

By connecting cars and smart street lamps with a cloud, the search for parking is better controlled. Photo: Shutterstock - metamorworks; Montage: Frieser

By connecting cars and smart street lamps with a cloud, the search for parking is better controlled. Photo: Shutterstock – metamorworks; Montage: Frieser

Our cities are suffocating under the weight of traffic, with drivers desperately hunting for a parking spot. According to a study by INRIX, the average German spends 41 hours per annum searching for a parking bay. This doesn’t just cost money, but also contributes to increased urban CO2 emissions.

One possible solution is offered by parking area management, which aids in ensuring that parking spaces are used optimally, that inner-city traffic is reduced, and the hunt for parking can be better controlled. Bernd Bienzeisler from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO supports cities to plan and introduce parking area management and states: ‘In the future, it is digital solutions that will be decisive in regulating the flow of traffic and the usage of parking bays.’ Smartphones, cars themselves and street lamps are all already helping.

Parking smart

With the help of smartphone parking apps on, one can not only find free parking spaces both on the street and in multi-story parking lots, but also pay parking fees without cash and, in an emergency, extend one’s parking duration on the go. They also generate a large amount of data that can be used to improve parking management. Drivers can now choose between various providers. However, so that users are not forced to download a different app for each city, there are multi-operator models that cities can introduce to keep it easy for visitors and residents to use. Leading providers have now joined forces under the ‘smartparking’ initiative to support cities in introducing such systems.

Drivers can display free parking spaces in their car via the navigation system. Photo: Bosch

Drivers can display free parking spaces in their car via the navigation system. Photo: Bosch

Thanks to new technologies, cars too are also becoming intelligent helpers when looking for a parking space. Around three years ago, Bosch unveiled community-based parking. Through this, the ultrasonic sensors of vehicles’ parking assistance systems scan the roadside while driving and identify parking spaces. A communication interface within the car sends this information to the respective vehicle manufacturer, which then forwards the data to the Bosch IoT Cloud. Here, the data is processed, plotted onto a digital parking map and made available to other drivers. Drivers can then display this information in their car via the navigation system. The digital solution for on-street parking presented by Continental at the 2019 International Motor Show works in a similar way.

Of course, ultrasound sensors capable of collecting such information are not installed in every car. With this considered, does the system still work for everyone? ‘If as few as three to five percent of vehicles on the road feature such technology, one gets statistically reliable data,’ assures Bienzeisler. Far more interesting, however, is what happens to the data, where it ends up and who it ultimately belongs to. Bienzeisler expects that there will be an unprecedented collaboration between car manufacturers, cities, parking lot providers and mobility services in the coming years.

Controlling parking areas as needed

Continental has already found a way to harness this data: All drivers that permit the sharing of their real-time information via the data platform receive payment for this. Hence the name ‘Earn as you ride’. As far as infrastructure is concerned, Continental has developed an intelligent solution for parking management, among other things – so-called Infrastructure-2-Vehicle Communication (I2V). According to Continental, virtual situational models of intersections can be created, making dangerous situations in road traffic recognizable at an early stage. At the same time, intelligent street lamps collect real-time data on available parking spaces.

According to Bienzeisler, both the mobile and permanent systems work well, but the locally-installed variants are more precise. So what will the future of parking look like? ‘I think the biggest change in parking will be that cities will be capable of controlling parking areas as needed using real-time data. Through this, they will be able to have a major impact on urban mobility as a whole.’ According to a study by the Fraunhofer IAO, for example, municipal authorities could redistribute public space, designate or even reduce parking spaces.

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