Easing the pain of parking in towns and cities
An personal issue with a global impact
I’ve talked before about the pain and isolation of being stuck in traffic, struggling to get to work or – even worse – get home. Stressful for drivers and damaging to the economy, it also increases emissions, compromising our health and the environment.
Searching for parking spaces is just as big an issue. According to a recent study from car services company Inrix, the UK’s drivers spend an average of 44 hours a year looking for parking spaces, with an estimated overall cost of £733 per driver in lost time, wasted fuel and emissions. In London, drivers waste an incredible 67 hours a year trying to park; and should they eventually be lucky enough to find a suitable space, the average two hourly parking rate is £13.
Many UK drivers also overpay for their parking to the tune of around £209 per driver (approximately £6.7 billion a year), either because they don’t know how long they will need the parking space for, or through fear of receiving a fine. For the many of us who have been caught out by ambiguous signage or confusing tariffs, parking penalties cost the UK’s drivers £1.2 billion annually.
An individual problem with broader repercussions
Parking issues also potentially add to traffic congestion, as motorists search for that illusive spot, sometimes stopping in inappropriate places, getting lost, circling round and becoming increasingly anxious or frustrated. They also cause many drivers to miss appointments or even turn round and drive home. And with 40% saying they avoid driving into towns and cities because of parking limitations, it’s not surprising that retail outlets and other businesses are suffering, as many high streets become derelict, with shops closing at a rapid rate.
As the full report shows, this very individual problem is actually an international issue – and isn’t confined to the UK. Fortunately however, not only are these problems generally acknowledged by town and city planners around the world as being damaging to the environment, the economy and people’s lives, but they are also starting to be addressed.
Cisco has long been committed to developing parking solutions that offer people real-time information on parking availability and location, as part of our smart cities portfolio. Residents and visitors to cities like Dubai are already seeing the benefits, as are those in Barcelona, where sensors in parking spaces provide maps to available spaces and send alerts when meters expire. And the city of Adelaide’s smart transformation includes the installation of video analytics software and cameras that can send parking information to a mobile app, enabling drivers to find and pay for parking using their mobile phones.
Meanwhile, on Nice’s Boulevard Victor Hugo, 200 wireless devices and sensors have resulted in a new parking system complete with traffic detectors, together with a mobile app that helps drivers locate and pay for parking. The technology also provides real-time information on public transport and vehicle sharing, while facilitating smart lighting, waste management and environmental monitoring. Nearer to home, CityVerve is demonstrating that Manchester’s wireless networks can be harnessed for countless applications from smart parking to social care to supporting its emergency services.
Trying to find somewhere to park is a personal and sometimes lonely activity. It can cause much anxiety and affect how we plan our time, but improving parking for individuals has broader implications – from helping reduce congestion to lowering vehicle emissions and supporting our high streets – while the technology used to create intelligent parking solutions can be harnessed in multiple ways, helping cities and towns become smart and efficient.