With an ever increasing number of cars on the roads, mobility has become a major issue of concern for city planners and policy makers. As vehicular pressure on the roads increases, new lanes need to be included into the city road network but that is not all. More cars need more parking spaces which also takes up a lot of city land.
All of this takes up a lot of prime real estate for tackling the increased vehicular load and leaves less for other important projects like affordable housing. Not only that, when the city road network and parking spaces tend to reach their limits, it leads to more traffic congestion, more vehicular emissions and stressed drivers. In fact, a British Parking Association study of 2,000 drivers found 44% consider parking a stressful experience.
Research shows that searching for a parking space burns about one million barrels of the world’s oil every day. This is in spite of the pretty wasteful allocation of space for the purpose of parking. As the global population continues to urbanise, without well-planned and convenience-driven parking policies, these problems will worsen.
Technology as the solution
Thankfully several emerging technologies like parking apps, Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT) are promising to solve the problem of parking scarcity and enhance urban mobility.
Various technology driven solutions for smart mobility and better traffic and parking management are being employed around the world:
1. Automated parking
An automated parking system is a mechanical system designed to minimise the area and/or volume required for parking cars. Like a typical multi-story car park, it provides parking for cars on multiple levels stacked vertically to maximise the number of parking spaces while minimising land usage. The automated parking system, however, utilises a mechanical system to transport cars to and from parking spaces (rather than the driver) in order to eliminate much of the space wasted in a multi-story car park.
Due to minimum human interaction, this system is gaining popularity in these pandemic times.
2. Peer-to-peer parking platforms
Private parking spaces owned by individuals remain vacant for most of the time, since the owner is mostly away, either to the office or for a holiday. Peer to peer parking apps like YourParkingSpace allow such parking owners to rent out their parking space while it is vacant and make decent money from it. Such spaces are now available to be pre-booked by those who need them most. YourParkingSpace offers the best price for a variety of parking spaces in a collection of prime locations.
3. Smart Parking
Various municipal regions have started experimenting with the idea of smart parking, whereby public parking spaces are made a part of the Internet of Things (IoT). Parking spaces are fitted with sensors, which sense if the parking space is vacant or occupied and send this information to the nearest receptor node.
This information from all the parking spaces of the region, collected from the receptor nodes, is then accumulated in centralised system and made public on a digital platform on a real time basis. Smart parking is expected not only to make parking space usage more efficient but will also allow users to pay exactly for the time they use the space.
It will also generate a lot of long-term data which can be used to redesign parking spaces in a better way. The Spanish city of Huesca some time back successfully experimented with the idea of smart parking to monitor parking spaces for disabled citizens.
4. Self driving cars
A study by two British engineering firms, Farrells and WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, looked at how London’s streets might be entirely redesigned if self-driving cars ever became a reality.
That study imagined a world in which the autonomous vehicles of the future are shared rather than owned. The autonomous vehicles themselves are either always on the road, picking up and dropping off passengers, or charging in a few centralised locations. As such, there is simply less need for street parking.
What’s more, if all the cars on the road were autonomous, they could take up far less space on the road. Vehicles navigated by robots could nestle closer together without fear of rear-ending each other. If collisions become more rare, the cars themselves could be smaller and thinner, taking up less space.
Technology has already significantly changed urban mobility, the new technologies which are near the horizon are further going to transform it.