Imagine you’re driving to work in the city and you’re notified there are no spaces left in the office car park. But there is one five minutes’ walk away – so your GPS system reroutes you there, saving you time and the hassle of finding a space yourself. A connected, seamless parking experience.
This could be the future of intelligent parking, according to Dr Prasant Misra, Research and Innovation Scientist at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
Not only would it help you, the driver, but by reducing the amount of time you spend driving around looking for a parking space, it could also cut congestion on the road and the pollution coming from your car.
This new ecosystem model is something that TCS is calling ‘Parking 4.0’.
“It’s a new way of thinking about parking,” Dr Misra says. “So instead of operating in a siloed manner as is currently the case, parking will be part of a broader mobility ecosystem.”
“Parking 4.0 will build a much more collaborative business model, with advanced analytics and user-experience engineering, delivering greater value to its customers.”
Why parking needs to move on
Cities are growing fast. By 2050, it’s estimated that two-thirds (6.5 billion) of the world’s population will live in urban centres. But more people mean more traffic and lower job productivity as workers spend more time sitting in their cars on their commute and less time at their desk.
More vehicles also mean more demand for parking spaces – and more time spent looking for them.
In the 2013 study “Smart parking solutions for urban areas”, researchers found that 40% of drivers spent between 10 and 30 minutes looking for a space to park. When one wasn’t available, a third of these would then demonstrate negative behavior, such as parking illegally.
“These problems have other effects as well,” says Dr Misra. “The longer the vehicles are on the road, the more the air pollution increases.”
Land is at a premium in urban areas so it’s not easy to increase parking capacity, meaning that smarter parking strategies are essential for smart cities. And they’re growing in scale, with the global market size projected to reach $5.25 billion by 2021.
A short history of parking
Parking has already come a long way in a relatively short space of time. Put simply, Parking 1.0 was a manually operated space-renting model, while Parking 2.0 offered electronic services such as parking meters that partially automated fee collection and auditing systems.
The present model, Parking 3.0, provides basic automation allowing users to navigate the parking experience themselves – from occupancy of car parks, to ticketing, parking and fee settlement.
Parking 4.0 will move beyond that, explains Dr Misra, to encompass an awareness of the larger city and integrate its services with other existing systems.
There are early signs of a Parking 4.0 ecosystem model already emerging, building on existing smart parking infrastructure, according to Dr Misra. Companies in a range of sectors including automobiles, automation and telecoms are beginning to show an interest in smart parking as part of a broader internet of things strategy in cities.
And there are already partnerships and alliances in place across industry segments, so that different services can be bundled together.
The fact that this new business model piggybacks on what is already there, means it won’t necessarily require a big investment from cities.
But in order to truly embrace the era of Parking 4.0, an Intelligent Parking Exchange (IPX) – an AI-driven software platform – will be crucial.
“Currently, the parking operator manages things within the perimeter of one facility and doesn’t have insight into what’s happening in other parking facilities nearby,” says Dr Misra.
“We believe that’s a missed opportunity for the driver because he is not getting a better parking experience – and there’s loss of revenue for the parking operator.”
Intelligent parking would be able to aggregate information from all parking operators in the area, so the user will know where there are spaces available.
Dr Misra says mindset is the only real barrier to Parking 4.0 and the mobility ecosystem partnerships it requires to come about. Car manufacturers still want to be known for building cars while also wanting to increase their revenue streams, and other players such as telematics companies are still looking at the problem in a siloed way.
“There has to be a shift in mindset for all of them to move up a level – but if they could collaborate with each other on a much larger scale, everyone would benefit.
“There will be a couple of iterations before we get there, but in the next few years, we should start seeing the benefits around such ecosystem partnerships arriving in a big way.”
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