Today we have the technology which will connect drivers to smart city parking spaces at the start of a trip. This tech can help fight the curse of congesting traffic looking for parking spaces. City traffic experts have been studying how much drivers circle lots for almost 80 years. In 1927, an engineer reported that 19 to 34% of cars were circling for a space in Detroit’s retail district. Even then, a great toll of circling was in place on city infrastructure. At that point, mobile parking ideas arose in the portion of the street which should be devoted to moving traffic.
Drivers circling for parking remains a menace to cities today. The long-term hope is to create smart cars which require no driver and can efficiently find open spots. This is incredibly important with high-frequency transit systems, complementary ride-hail services, walkable development, and the aforementioned eventual self-driving cars, which can all get cities closer to that ultimate goal. However, in the nearer term, it’s worth remembering that the vast majority of trips are made by car in the United States. Since every drive ends at a parking space, every extra minute spent circling for that space means more traffic frustration, increase environmental impact and lower productivity. This increased demand coupled with newer technology has brought to life smart city “Smart Parking” apps which solve this exact issue.
Before diving into the solution, we truly need to understand the problem with the city. Fixing the circling problem means identifying the street spots that tend to overlooked and are much cheaper than the lot or garage spots. With no coordination between the public and private parking operators, we end up with segmented rule structure for access and payment. This ultimately means many potential spots go under-used. The true cost of parking is bundled into development and therefore hidden from consumers, subverting the forces of an efficient market.
We have an incredible amount of disconnected data which plays a big role into this problem. The majority of parking operators don’t know their supply of available spaces, especially in real time. Most cities lack visibility into the full inventory of their street-parking spots. This ultimately makes it tough to know where and when a space might open up. Because of this lack of cohesiveness, most navigation modern apps don’t show drivers how much extra time and money is needed to park once they reach their destination. This is especially painful if you’re planning a trip, unless you have a magic car which can shrink itself which only exists in the smart city of the future. The described information gap leads to increased circling, loads of frustration, and potentially distracted driving, more loss of production, as people text about their new arrival time or try to find a spot on a parking app.
Technology can help cities find other ways to reduce circling. Digital services like Intrix gives commuters and cities the ability to track the rules and supply of street spaces, and channel that information to drivers. A comprehensive database of public and private parking availability makes it possible to knit together previously fragmented spots into virtual spots. Suddenly it’s possible to give drivers parking information at the start of a trip, long before they start to cruise the block. Cities will have to upgrade some infrastructure on systems like Civic Smart. These systems both feedback into the GE Powered analytic platform. This changes the game with some immediate short-term benefits with smart parking applications:
Less circling: Now you type a destination into a navigation app and find, reserve, and pay for a parking space before you leave the house, that means no circling. You can drive right to your spot.
Variety of Choices: Today we have navigation apps to get you to the city, and once you are there, the parking app will tell you exactly which spots are open and the cost for those spots. Now you get the true cost for the trip and more visibility into parking availability
Market efficiency: With the ability to find and pay for parking spots easily from an app, you no longer have to run to the meter to reload. Now you can be notified your spot time is about to expire and quickly recharge. This same visibility has additional value to the city who now more completely understands the supply and demand requirements of the city. If we take this same technology we can accomplish a complete digital network of on-street, off-street, public, and private parking spaces could be a springboard to broader quality-of-life improvements and management initiatives: Better land use and Gig economy enhancement.
On your way to a favorite restaurant downtown, you pass street after street of cars at the curb, but also an arena garage that’s empty half the year. A shared parking network can make these spots available when the home team’s not playing. It also means developers might not have to build as much parking, which lowers the cost of housing and commercial spaces, creating a more affordable and equitable city. This also allows residents who own the parking in front of house to have virtual parking spots which could potentially be monetized.
Author Information – Jon Salisbury is the Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer @ Nexigen and Chief Vision Officer for smartLINK. For more information about smart parking and the circling problem please reach out to [email protected] for more information!