A prized spot on your trip to the supermarket. A valuable city centre resource and revenue generator. The parking space is many things to many people.
Remote monitoring now allows parking operators to better manage spaces, connecting drivers with new retail and city services. For operators it’s not an empty space, it’s an opportunity.
Solving parking headaches worldwide
In the UK there are 253 people for every square kilometre. In Italy the figure is 203, and in New Zealand it is just 16, yet congestion and parking is a universal problem.
Smart Parking is a world-leading parking solutions provider, with customers in Europe, Asia and Australia. Its client base includes local authorities, healthcare organisations, academic institutions, retailers and property developers. Originally founded in New Zealand, the ideas the company perfected at home are now being deployed worldwide.
“Our expertise centres on the development of parking technology – both in terms of the hardware we deploy, and the applications that connect it all together,” says Paul Gillespie, Smart Parking CEO. “It was always our intention to be global. We want to be part of the bigger Vodafone conversation around smart cities. Vodafone helps get to market quicker, and there is power in us leveraging the Vodafone brand".
SmartEye is a core Smart Parking technology, and is a key part of the company’s SmartPark solution that is revolutionising how drivers in city centres can find an available parking space. SmartEye wireless devices are embedded into parking spaces, transmitting data on when the space is used and for how long via local signal processers into a central parking management application. SmartPark reduces congestion, decreases vehicle emissions, lowers enforcement costs and cuts driver stress – but to be effective, each device needs reliable connectivity.
“We’ve been with Vodafone since the early years in New Zealand,” says Gillespie. “We continue to use Vodafone Global M2M SIMs in all devices, installed and shipped to anywhere in the world. It means we can use the same device in London, Madrid or Prague. Wherever the parking problem, we’re ready to go.”
In addition to SmartEye, SmartPark encompasses other leading-edge technologies:
SmartLink – zone controllers collating and transmitting status in real time – rapidly, accurately and consistently
SmartApp – for smartphones, the free application guides drivers to available spaces close to them
SmartRep – software seamlessly coordinating data from the street, to attendants, to a client’s management systems
SmartPark can be fully integrated into existing parking management software and parking/permit payment systems. It’s a solution that maximises a city’s investment in on-street enforcement, enabling decision makers to make significant long-term savings in personnel deployment.
Data from the SmartEye sensors maps usage and allows operators to spot gaps and trends, from one fully managed platform. “It’s all about the power of data,” says Gillespie. SmartEye technology is equally at home in off-street retail locations as it is across on-street Central Business Districts (CBDs). One retail customer in the UK used SmartEye to confirm the car park at its Manchester Trafford Centre store was only ever 70% occupied.
This information helped secure planning permission on a 310sqm extension to the store, maximising retail space without impacting on the customer parking experience. It is able to work out just how long its customers need to park, and penalise those non-customers abusing the free parking. In New Zealand, Auckland Council uses SmartGuide to reduce time-to-park at its three busiest facilities in the CBD.
We want to be part of the bigger Vodafone conversation around smart cities. Vodafone helps get to market quicker, and there is power in us leveraging the Vodafone brand.
Paul Gillespie, Smart Parking CEO
Smart Parking solutions allow customers to access parking data remotely, from any device. This data can be integrated with other devices, to be shared with multiple parties.
Gillespie believes that the parking industry is only scratching the surface of what’s possible, but points to a number of factors that will drive the adoption of smart solutions. A Digital Journal study in 2014 suggests 22% of retailers have already implemented real-time analytics, and 61% plan to do so within two years. Parking is a single example of how M2M technology can turn something that seems purely functional into not only a way of managing a store better and at less cost, but also using the data to improve the customer experience and target offers more scientifically.
“For retailers, parking is the first-and-last impression – it doesn’t matter how good the in-store experience, if a customer has a terrible experience in your car park, you’ve lost them. For local authorities, the transition to smarter parking promises a number of significant benefits. Westminster City Council, which is currently deploying SmartPark across up to 10,000 spaces in the heart of London, see real benefits in cutting the time it takes for a driver to find a parking space – which immediately reduces congestion, emissions and enforcement costs.
Retailers and local authorities may have slightly different agendas, says Gillespie, but they are both “on the smart journey”. “Parking is a good example of how you can use data to get closer to customers and anticipate their needs. Our job is to make parking your car at a supermarket or shopping centre as positive as possible. It’s just got to be easy. But, when you park your car we can gather information about a whole host of things to generate data that’s really useful.”
The relationship with Vodafone, he says, goes beyond today’s M2M connectivity. “Parking is one element of a smart city, along with transport, waste management, street lighting – and Vodafone M2M has a strong position in this space. This is hugely important to us.
“We want to be part of the bigger Vodafone conversation around smart cities. Vodafone helps us get to market quicker, and there is power in us leveraging the Vodafone brand.”
The bottom line
Enables global roll-out of smart parking devices, built in, shipped and managed off one platform
Provides strategic vision on smart cities by partnering with a global M2M leader
Real-time parking data can be viewed through an online portal or on a smartphone