Appy Parking is a new technology creating wide area networks to monitor and show parking space useage allowing better use and less congestion.
Congestion is a major issue in European cities. It slows transport systems, contributes to Carbon emissions and causes frustration amongst drivers. A number of European studies have suggested that drivers searching for parking spaces in urban areas contribute between 8 and 30% to congestion. On street parking is considered to be one of the worst contributors as vehicles manoeuvring and parking add to the congestion and pollution.
In order to better understand and potentially reduce the problem Coventry City Council took part in a project to develop a new parking system which combines real time vehicle sensors placed in each on street space with an app that drivers can use to identify free parking spaces.
The project fitted sensors to on street parking spaces and connected them to a central system. Software was developed to allow drivers to identify free spaces in the city in real time. This took the form of a SmartPhone app which is marketed in both Android and iPhone versions.
The practice has enabled the council to understand parking demands and patterns, identify areas of over and under-utilisation of parking spaces and will permit the development of more flexible pricing to improve the use pf parking zones and deliver more customers to neighbouring businesses.
The main stakeholders were Coventry City Council and the App developer. The beneficiaries are the people of Coventry who are now able to find empty parking spaces without an extended search.
Funding of £150,000 was provided by the UK Department for Transport through the C-ITS programme. 654 surface sensors with two base stations were fitted and configured by NWAVE. CCC provided four staff and AppyParking four developers, all on a part time basis. The project runs automatically.
Evidence of success
The system is installed and working. Preliminary analysis has been possible and a much better understanding of street parking patterns is available. The system has not yet been advertised to the public, but there are already almost 200 users regularly searching for spaces in the city.
A major vehicle manufacturer has taken an interest in the practice and is developing integrated systems to work with the vehicle’s AI so that autonomous vehicles will be able to use the data to park effectively
Original software to allow mass installation had to be rewritten.
Despite an open API further integration with payment systems has been stalled by the refusal of the payment company to integrate – they want to develop their own system. In future wider partnerships may be needed.
Potential for learning or transfer
On street parking is a challenge in many European cities.
This is a practice that can be easily transferred to any city with congestion and on street parking. It is already being adopted across the UK with sensors fitted in more cities including London.
The information gained is particularly valuable for planning and matching parking requirements to provision. This has significant potential to reduce vehicle movements in congested city centres.
At a cost of around £20 per parking bay with a sensor battery life of 5-7 years this is a low cost solution with realistic potential in any European city.
The Company provides an open API that can be connected to any other parking management system allowing drivers to pay on use and authorities to monitor street use in real time.
Edit: March 2020 - This project has been granted an Award by the British Parking Association for collaboration in developing digitised traffic regulation order/kerbside management.
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