Smart cities are using connectivity to source real-time information on the availability of parking spaces. That information can help drivers find available spaces and enable the city to introduce dynamic pricing, in which the cost of parking can be adjusted in line with demand.
San Francisco’s SFPark deployment, which monitors 19,250 parking spaces, found that the use of connected sensors led to an increase in parking revenues of USD1.9 million per year (USD 98.7 per space), a 43% decrease in the average amount of time taken to find parking spaces and a 30% reduction in vehicle miles travelled and greenhouse gas emissions associated with drivers looking for parking spots.
Smart parking applications typically employ ruggedized electro-magnetic sensors that are either adhered to, or inserted into, the surface of the monitored parking bay. These connected sensors need long battery lives to minimize maintenance, but they also need to transfer occupancy information wirelessly through obstructing material, such as vehicles and walls.
Although it had been prohibitively expensive to provide adequate coverage and capacity, even in relatively small-scale car parks, new low power wide area (LPWA) connectivity can provide the necessary coverage without material compromises to the end device’s bill of materials or battery life. Using 3GPP-standardised technologies, new LPWA networks can make it cost-effective to cover both outdoor and indoor car parks, opening up new, previously un-addressable deployments for smart parking.
As the pattern in which individual parking bays get occupied can be predicted with a very high level of certainty from how individual bays are used, it may not be necessary to install a sensor in every bay. Machina Research believes it may be feasible to monitor one-third of the parking bays and apply advanced analytics to cover the others.
In China, Shanghai Unicom, a subsidiary of China Unicom, has teamed up with Shanghai Disneyland to use Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) technology to monitor about 400 parking spaces in the theme park. The pilot demonstrated that the NB-IoT can offer 15-18dB more coverage than a GSM network, which is close to the target range of 20dB, and is able to connect parking sensors even in an underground garage.
China Mobile is trialing NB-IoT to enable smart parking with equipment maker Huawei in parking lots in the city of Hangzhou. The operator is also working on a similar pilot with ZTE. In the pilots, NB-IoT-connected sensors monitor whether parking spaces are occupied, enabling drivers to use an app to see in real-time where they can park.
Following a successful pilot of NB-IoT to enable smart parking in Germany, Deutsche Telekom is now rolling out the low power wide area technology in eight European countries, including the Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Slovakia, Croatia and Poland, as well as Germany. DT has upgraded dozens of base stations to support NB-IoT using the 900MHz and 800MHz frequency bands. Due to the success of the pilot, one of the biggest German automotive manufacturers plans to integrate the smart parking app into its future cars, making the user experience completely integrated.
In Norway, Telenor and Telia Norway, are piloting smart parking applications which they both envisage will be commercially ready by the last quarter of 2017.
Etisalat Digital sees NB-IoT enabling a new generation of connected sensors with long battery lives that can be used in a wide range of applications. Etisalat’s trial of smart parking solutions in Dubai and Abu Dhabi confirmed this and also highlighted the importance of building an end-to-end ecosystem. Similarly, AT&T in the US plans to have LTE-M coverage deployed nationwide by the end of June 2017, smart city services are just one of the many applications they are deploying.
Telefónica Spain is using NB-IoT to connect car park sensors made by Worldsensing and tracking devices developed by Abeeway/Flex. The operator is employing network equipment from Ericsson, modules from Telit and chipsets from Intel.