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Relieving the pain of parking

Montpellier in the South of France is one of the cities that has deployed Libelium’s smart parking solution to improve its citizens’ quality of life

An installed base of global, on-street smart parking spaces of around 1.1m is predicted by 2026
An installed base of global, on-street smart parking spaces of around 1.1m is predicted by 2026

Driving around looking for a parking space is part of daily life for many people living and working in cities and major towns. As well as an inconvenient time-stealer for individuals – and the anxiety it brings a contributor to stress levels -- it is extremely bad for the health of the city because of the pollution it creates.


Smart parking solutions are moving up the smart cities’ agenda and according to Research and Markets the market is poised to grow at a compound annual growth rate of around 4.9 per cent over the next decade, to reach approximately $1461.52 million by 2025.


Alicia Asin, CEO of Libelium, says the Internet of Things (IoT) specialist is seeing increased demand for smart parking solutions that improve both quality of life and business productivity. “It is important to bear in mind that the search for parking is one of the daily actions that has the greatest impact, not only on the time dedicated to it, but also on city traffic, pollution levels and the health of people affected by high levels of stress at the wheel,” she says.


Asin goes on to explain that municipalities look for many direct benefits from a smart parking solution such as additional parking revenues, enforcement cost-reduction, reduced parking violations, special permits detection, reduction of CO2, dust emissions (PM2.5-PM10) and other pollutants. Reduction of traffic congestion and noise pollution, optimisation of existing parking capacity and improvement of quality of life and the reputation of being a greener city are also important factors for implementing such an initiative.


According to a study by Navigant Research, drivers looking for a parking space can be responsible for up to 30 per cent of inner city congestion. The study, Smart Parking Systems, predicts that there will be an installed base of global on-street smart parking spaces of around 1.1 million by 2026.


Montpellier in France’s Occitanie region is one of the cities which is taking action to address parking issues for its 270,000 inhabitants. The city has historically been a pioneer in smart cities projects when it comes to mobility and Montpellier Mediterranean Metropolis continues to progress deployment of the Internet of Things via its LoRaWAN private network.


The smart parking solution has been developed with Libelium’s Connected Parking technology. The project is part of the Metropolis’ bigger smart cities strategy to make data openly available to those who can develop services and solutions to enrich the lives of its citizens such as start-ups, universities and laboratories.


One of the companies it has been working with is the French IoT services and solutions provider, Synox, which is a customer of Factory Systemes, an official Libelium distributor. Synox installed a number of antennas connected to city’s LoRaWAN network in strategic locations to provide coverage for projects such as smart parking.


Montpellier’s shopping centre has limited parking slots and the main goal of the project was to make traffic more fluid and increase rotation at parking spaces near the town hall and shopping centre.


Twenty Libelium Plug & Sense! Smart Parking nodes were installed in two different areas of the city: six at the surroundings of the Montpellier Town Hall (Hôtel de Ville de Montpellier) and the rest on the nearby Parc Marianne district.


These devices have initially been installed on the road surface in parking areas designated for those with reduced mobility and delivery services with the aim of relieving congestion, streamlining traffic, and improving access to car park areas. Data management displays show real-time information relating to the use of car parking slots in order to improve the traffic conditions and diminish car parking search time.


In the future, the number of nodes will be increased throughout the territory of the metropolis so more people will benefit. Sensors also gather data about the temperature of the roadway which will be used by the metropolis road authorities to take action in case of the presence of ice sheets.


“The Smart Parking project made it possible to easily deploy -- on private LoRaWAN network infrastructure -- an analysis of the strategic car park availability, for the city mobility services, the city police, and soon the citizens themselves,” explains Jérôme Fenwick, chief technology officer at Synox. “Having a better understanding and a better management of car park availability and traffic in the city is a major key point to improve a citizen’s life.”


Pieter Brice, CTO at Montpellier Mediterranean Metropolis remarks that the smart parking project allowed the city to consolidate its collaboration with Libelium and it is looking forward to offering new services to users based on the network.


Typical challenges of a smart parking deployment are the installation and maintenance of devices. Libelium improved the design of its smart parking solution so it does not require drilling of the asphalt as it is installed on the surface with special safety screws. Connectivity is also an important factor which is why Libelium opts for the dual radio with Sigfox and LoRaWAN connection as both protocols are low power consumption, perfect for an application that requires batteries to have a long battery life.


“Interoperability is another major challenge to which cities are attaching increasing importance,” says Asin. “Regardless of the cloud platform on which a city’s smart services operate, is very important that each application added is perfectly compatible with the existing ones to prevent previous investments from becoming obsolete. Hence the importance of device compatibility with any cloud platform and any communication protocol.”


As well as the Montpellier installation, Libelium has deployed its technology at Silicon Oasis in Dubai and Bilbao in Spain. “There are also some private installations at great corporations that are also demanding our smart parking solution with different approaches,” says Asín. “To detect the presence of vehicles in loading and unloading areas, to identify the availability of recharging points for electric vehicles, to measure the rotation of taxi parking facilities or the level of use of disabled parking spaces.”



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