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Smart cities are spreading throughout the world and smart parking innovations with them. Read on to see what could be available in your area.
With over 76% of the US population owning a car, it’s easy to imagine the nightmare with parking. You drive to work, your kids to school, and your partner drives their car to the store. You visit museums and theatres on the weekends, restaurants in the evening, and the million other excuses you have for entering the city limits on a daily basis.
Or you live in the city. You go to the outlet mall for your weekly grocery shopping to come back and circulate for what seems like an eternity, trying to find the closest parking spot to home. You drop a colleague home after work or you visit family and friends.
Thankfully, cities across the world are recognizing the pain parking brings.
Smart parking innovations are popping up in major cities throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. These cities are called Smart Cities. Why so? Let’s take a look.
Smart cities for smart parking
Technology is the digital age. Since the invention of the microchip in 1958 technology has been on the rise to facilitate our way of life and living. The foundation of this innovation is data.
Data is our digital footprint, our breadcrumb trail. To make advancements in our digital innovations–to improve our cities and lifestyles, data is:
Parking is no small piece of that smart innovation. For a smart city to truly be smart it needs to cut down on emissions, encourage the use of electric vehicles (EV), and provide a solution to over-crowded parking lots.
Updated parking policies
To begin with, the city council needs to fight the issue at the source. They need to define high-traffic areas and subsidize parking in quieter areas. CEOs and building managers are encouraged to research parking policy examples to improve their employees’, clients’, and customers’ experience.
Residential and office buildings need to consider parking when drawing up their plans. Commercial units have to be realistic about the number of customers expected versus the number of spaces they reserve.
However, smart parking innovations simplify this for everyone: the CEO, the commercial real estate agent, the student, the employee, the resident–the whole city benefits.
The 7 best smart parking innovations to look out for in 2023
If you thought hands-free tech like Alexia was super cool, wait till you check out this list. It’s like reading a Philip K Dick book in 1966.
1. Smart parking sensors
The idea is simple: install sensors throughout the city that communicate with an app to help drivers find free parking spots.
The realization, not so much: the ground needs to be dug up to install these sensors. Inner city construction is notorious for creating traffic backlogs. The project will also reduce the number of available parking spaces during construction.
It’s a project where the visionaries need to think in the long run. Focus on the outcome rather than the process. The local council will need to create a campaign to notify the public about the projected plan and objective.
Major cities such as San Francisco, Singapore, and Berlin already employ this technology - the pioneers of smart parking innovations.
2. Parking applications
Free parking apps are a dream come true for all car owners. The major apps available offer:
- Space availability
- Space reservation
- Reservation in advance
- Flexible reservation times
- Payment options - in advance
- Top-up payment options
- On-street, public, and private parking spaces
- Times-up reminders
Zone in on the area you need to park and drive directly to the spot. Pay from your phone so no searching for loose change, and top up your meter to avoid fines.
These parking apps can be downloaded on IOs or android. They’re a money- and time-saver for when meetings run over, dinners flow into drinks, and when you just want to relax and check out that new exhibition in the museum.
3. Stacked parking
Double-decker parking solutions do just that–double your parking space. Their technology uses a simple elevation function. When you find your spot, you drive onto a ramp. When you exit your car you can flip a lever for the ramp to raise. This frees up a parking space underneath.
The downside to this is a higher level of organization. For employers, it’s best to allocate parking spaces so those who leave later park first. This allows a smooth transition for car owners who leave earlier.
These options work best for:
- Car dealerships
- Mechanic workshops
- Ferry crossings
- Private residences
- Robot valet parking (more on this below)
The conception is indeed smart, but the realization can be tricky. The onus is to first identify your need, evaluate the current parking timings, and proceed to choose the best solution.
4. Subterra parking lifts
This smart parking solution is designed with homeowners in mind. After you park your car in your garage and exit it, your car is lowered to a subterranean space.
Many private homes come with basements and underground garages. Store your cars here, choose which one you prefer to drive, mount the lift and drive away without a congested driveway.
Also popular with inner city parking garages. Employing automated parking valets, they can now utilize underground space without needing to spend too much on human navigation.
Your car will be automatically transported to an available parking spot underground, possibly tiered, optimizing space to the max, but more on that below.
5. Reduced fees for EVs
This innovation for smart parking promotes the use of electric vehicles. An objective for smart cities is to reduce carbon emissions. Therefore, it makes sense to offer lower parking rates for EVs. Smart move.
In conjunction with smart parking apps and designated EV charging stations, you can brave inner city parking with your EV.
If you don’t need to charge your car each time you park it, you can apply for a residential parking permit at a reduced cost. There’s no one price however, it fluctuates depending on local councils, but definitely worth looking into.
6. Robot valet parking
According to IEEE, Robotic Valet Automated Parking Systems (APS) is a viable solution to the parking problem. Designed initially for dedicated parking lots, the automated parking service saves car owners time and gas looking for available space.
When you enter the lot you drive your car onto a sort of loading dock. With the help of an app, you can leave your car and let the robotics do the rest.
The dock automatically transports your car to the nearest free space. This reduces accidents, saves space, can use parking lifts, and boosts the overall efficiency of the parking garage.
7. Solar panels parking shades
Marrying smart parking and renewable energy, this innovation is just the tip of the iceberg. For outdoor parking lots, installing solar panels as shades offer the following:
- Parking safe from drastic weather conditions
- Reduced opportunity for bird dropping to dirty your car
- Production of energy while optimizing space
Lot owners can feed the energy back into the grid and benefit from local tax cuts. Or, if the parking area is operating an APS they break even with energy consumption.
These schools in California benefitted from reduced electricity fees for up to 20 years. Smart parking innovation at its finest! And it instills a sense of green forward-thinking in the students too to boot.
Parking lots no longer an eye-sore for cities of the future
Since the dependency on cars rose, parking lots have become increasingly necessary in cities. For work, school, medical treatments, or leisurely activities–your two- or three-car homes need safe places to park.
Whether it’s doubled, hidden, or automatic, solutions that are smart and modern are becoming more common. First, you need to consider upgrading to an electric vehicle, if not for the environment, for the cheaper parking rates.
Research and download apps active in your city to save you time. Choose an APS garage. Lobby for your local offices and schools to install solar panels to cover the parking lots.
You mightn’t live in New York, Tokyo, or London, but the future of smart parking innovations in your city is just around the corner.
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