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Streetline explains Smart Parking- a new era of Connected Cars

“Street-to-vehicle communication is as important for the autonomous vehicles as the V2V. Being able to interpret data at the street level will be crucial to the success and eventual market readiness of the autonomous vehicle.”


                                                      Asdrúbal Pichardo, MD-International, Streetline Inc.


Experts believe that the power of data and the way it is managed can have a profound impact on an important urban issue: parking. With the use of wireless sensors and mesh network technology, the real-time parking availability can be detected both on the street as well as in garages and lots. This occupancy data then powers a number of analytical apps for cities, and APIs for developers and OEMs.

It has been shown that 30% of congestion in cities is due to people circling in search of a parking space. Furthermore, nearly 60% of people have reported abandoning an activity altogether due to parking difficulty. As such, companies have been paying particular attention to the connected car space and the implications of smart parking as an accelerator to the connected car.

Here at Streetline our fascination with parking, cars, and all things transportation goes beyond Sunday reading and straight to obsession.JJ

Connected Car: The State of the Union

Asdubal Pichardo

While the driverless car may be years away from the local dealer showroom, major shifts in government policy, auto manufacturer’s product plans, and drivers’ expectations of connectivity in the car, all point to one thing: the connected car is coming, and in some capacities, is already here.

For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation is taking steps to enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology. This technology will improve safety by allowing vehicles to “talk” to each other and ultimately avoid many crashes altogether by exchanging safety data, such as speed and position. In addition, the U.S. government will be requiring the implementation of backup cameras in all cars by 2015. Recently, it also proposed a USD 2 million roadmap for certification of connected car technology.

The primary goal of these government mandates is to improve safety, transportation efficiency, and lessen environmental impact. While it’s important to look at modifications to vehicles themselves to achieve these goals, it’s equally important to explore other technologies, like smart parking, that improve the resource efficiency of our transportation infrastructure. According to the U.S. DOT, “Tailpipe emissions from vehicles are the single largest human-made source of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and methane. Vehicles that are stationary, idling, and traveling in a stop-and-go pattern due to congestion emit more greenhouse gases (GHGs) than those traveling in free-flow conditions.”

Smart parking – using technology to provide guidance, and improved policy and pricing – can reduce a car’s total CO2 emissions by 5% or more. Streetline illustrated the environmental impact of parking guidance, by way of the Parker application. When the results are extrapolated to assume a weekly user base of 100,000, the impact is:

  • 712,956 fewer vehicle hours of the road
  • 4,863,379 fewer kilometers driven on city streets
  • 672,906 fewer liters of gasoline used
  • 1,425,569 kilograms of CO2 emissions reduced

Smart Parking and the Connected Car

Much of the above suggests that smart parking will be a critical component to the connected car and will help to accelerate consumer adoption. There are a variety of parties involved in the smart parking ecosystem, each benefitting in a different way.

Cities: According to the Carbon Disclosure Project’s 2012 global cities report, mayors have direct control of over 75% of urban emissions sources, from municipal fleets to residential waste management to urban planning. By implementing smart parking, city officials empower motorists to reduce congestion, drive time, and vehicle miles traveled. Auto manufacturers and application developers play an important role as well by providing both static and real-time data to motorists where and when they need it.

Auto Manufacturers & Developers: This year’s earlier release of the ParkerData Availability API was an important step forward in our relationship and partnership with auto OEM’s and application developers. We see “parking as an ingredient” – meaning the means by which consumers can access the data is diverse. We strive to deliver the data in the most valuable way possible, and empower others to use the data in ways that influence behavior and ultimately improve mobility, sustainability, and quality of life.

Private Operators: Parking operators also stand to benefit from connected car technologies. Because the API enables the integration of parking data into a variety of channels, providers stand to gain more business and revenue while managing their information directly. Furthermore, if they decide to implement real-time technologies, cities and operators can have direct access to analytics while drivers will benefit from knowing what garages and lots have availability and make decisions accordingly.

Consumers: Studies have found that parking problems often stem from a perceived lack of parking. Many time blocks with high levels of parking congestion are only a block or two away from underutilized blocks with ample availability. By disseminating availability information across a number of platforms (applications, dynamic signage, in-car navigation), motorists are able to quickly park their vehicles. In this way, real-time and static parking data helps to alleviate congestion, improve mobility, make better use of our infrastructure resources and increase patronage to local merchants.

Improving the Car-Share Experience

Car-sharing companies like ZipCar, car2go, BMW’s DriveNow, etc. are trying to enhance the car-share experience for motorists by offering differentiated services. For example, the introduction of “ZipCar One Way” aims to mimic car ownership and increase adoption. Different from their traditional model of picking up the car and then dropping it off at the same location, the new One Way service feels more like car ownership, rather than car rental by allowing drivers to drop off their car in a different location from where they picked it up.

In order to successfully deploy One Way – among other car-share improvements – companies need the real-time on-street and off-street parking availability data to not only direct drivers to available parking spaces but also to know where their car fleet is located in a city and effectively manage inventory.

Interestingly car2go has already deployed one-way car rental in select markets. The company’s website boasts parking ease because of the car’s small size and because car2go pays for your parking, as a renter. Paid parking is compelling but finding a place to park is more than half the battle. If car2go, and other car-sharing programs, were to integrate real-time parking availability into the car, the value proposition for renters would increase significantly through time, gas, and money savings.

Enabling the Autonomous Vehicle

Autonomous vehicles require connectedness on a variety of levels. V2V sensing is a crucial component of the autonomous vehicle. But, we would argue, just as important is street-to-vehicle communication. Being able to interpret data at the street level will be crucial to the success and eventual market readiness of the autonomous vehicle.

Proximity of parking spaces to destination will help autonomous vehicles to plan and optimize routes. While apps provide other valuable parking information like price, safety, and amenities offered (typically at off-street facilities), they could play a role in parking space decision making.

Non-autonomous car drivers have to balance distance and price when looking for a place to park. This limits the cost-savings benefits. But autonomous vehicle owners are not constrained by distance and thus, can optimize cost-savings. Additionally, the ability to seek out facilities that offer certain amenities and services (car washes for example) is a convenience for the busy motorist, as well as a differentiator for parking providers and auto manufacturers.

The future of the connected car and autonomous vehicles are yet to be determined. We are excited to see the evolution of connected devices and services and to see a variety of data types seamlessly integrated into the car for a superior driving experience.

This article was originally published in the July-August edition of Smart Automotive magazine.

About the author

Asdrúbal is a senior technology executive with a broad and unique combination of experience in growing services and products, business units, markets, and revenues. Before joining Streetline, he spent more than 10 years at SAP AG, where he held several global leadership positions with SVP being the latest. In addition to management and executive training at MIT and INSEAD, Asdrúbal holds a Systems Engineering & Computer Science degree and a M.Sc. degree in Advanced Computing from King’s College London.

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