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What do you need to know in smart parking guidance?

What do you need to know in smart parking guidance?
Smart parking industry has improved greatly in the recent years. With the improvements of artificial intelligence field, the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in parking guidance systems cannot be denied.
Smart parking industry has improved greatly in the recent years. With the improvements of artificial intelligence field, the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in parking guidance systems cannot be denied. Startups such as the U.S.-based Streetline has come up with solutions that leverage the power of machine learning to come up with real-time parking guidance and analytics data. 

The major features

Paulius Vezelis, who handles business development at the Lithuania-based company Pixevia, points out four major features that AI and camera-based parking guidance solutions usually have:
  • Easy deployment — there is no need to mount sensors everywhere or build barriers with dedicated LPRN cameras.
  • Cost-efficiency — a single camera can cover up to 100 parking spots and recognize license plates at the same time.
  • Increased security — top notch solutions offer security alerts for uncommon behavior in the parking lots. For example, illegal gatherings at night, suspicious behavior next to a car, illegal parking.
  • Increased customer satisfaction — AI and camera-based systems not only help to find a free parking spot, but also usually have the “find my car” feature, as the system not only detects occupied spaces, but also knows which car is occupying which parking spot.

Rebecca Grainger, National Sales Manager at the New Zealand-based Smart Parking Technology, classifies the features into two, in terms of the benefits to customers. “First, the benefits to the consumer include having clear and accurate signage displaying real-time occupancy status of car parks,” she said. “This enables greater efficiency, as when parking in a multi-storey car park they can bypass entire floors if there is full occupancy, and once they get to a level where there are free bays they can see exactly which bays are available by looking at the overhead guidance system for a green light. Another benefit to the consumer is the proven fact that a well-run car park with good lighting and a working guidance system is a deterrent to antisocial behavior.”

The second area of benefit is to the operator, as using the sensor data gathered by the cloud-based platform they can create business rules and site planning to increase efficiency of the car park as a whole.

Challenges and difficulties in implementation

Grainger said that the main difficulties her company encounters that can hamper installations are generally due to site terrain, location or weather conditions. This can include cities with an exceptionally hilly terrain, sites on locations such as wharves that can’t have holes drilled in them, or areas that experience large snow falls.

“However, after over 15 years of specializing in the development of parking equipment, smart parking have a range of sensor options to choose from, so most, if not all, site requirements can be met, and challenges overcome,” she added.

Vezelis pointed out that, in general, it’s quite easy to install and start using a camera-based smart parking system that uses AI.

“Just connect existing cameras to, for example, Pixevia’s cloud and you are ready to go,” he said. “Sometimes difficulties arise if the parking lot has unusual surroundings or shape. Installing such a system can be more challenging in parking lots that have a very complex shape with lots of corners and small pockets of one or two parking spots. Trees are a hurdle, too — if there are many trees in the middle of the parking lot, additional cameras might be needed to see what is behind the tree. Otherwise, these additional cameras would not be necessary.”

Speaking more on the consumer behavior, Harald Schmitt, CEO of the Germany-based MSR-Traffic, indicated that the market should be aware that low-priced products are not going to provide high-quality results.
Greg Mason,
VP of Technical Sales,
TIBA Parking Systems

“You get what you pay,” Schmitt said. “Means, many customers try to get the cheapest solution. When it does not work, customers think that smart parking systems are not working well enough. In this market, one should buy high-quality products from a supplier who also supports in planning and engineering.”

Then there is the fact that the solution itself is in an evolving stage. Greg Mason, VP of Technical Sales at TIBA Parking Systems, said that at present the main point to note is the proprietary costs. These are still in the phase and period of the evolution of the proprietary software in small batches, which makes them expensive.

“I think the silo effect of the proprietary software lowers the return on investment (ROI) from the people purchasing it,” Mason said. “So, what happens is a negative feedback in today’s market. You have high costs, with low ROI. And because of this, the hardware production becomes limited. We need to get to a higher place, where there is better ROI, based on shared information and shared data, which will increase sales and increase demand.”

What systems integrators should know

Knowing who to partner with in the industry would go a long way in making sure SIs establish a strong presence in the market. Needless to say, technical skills that are used in the security industry, especially with regard to cameras, will come in handy in this sector as well.

“First of all, they should focus on finding a good partner, who understands the challenges of such systems and has real-world experience in deploying them,” Vezelis said. “The second step would be to start pilot projects with their clients as soon as possible to show them that it’s not rocket science and can be very beneficial for the parking lot owner. Additionally, skills and knowledge of camera types, IR lighting, camera positioning, and video streaming are highly beneficial.”

To sum up, the growth potential of this field cannot be denied, especially as this could be seen as an integral part of smarter cities.

There is a debate between cameras and sensors but ideally, a combination of the two should work best.

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