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The car driver, the shop owner and the city itself. All three benefit from the new parking system rolled out by CommuniThings on the basis of Orange’s NarrowBand-Internet of Things network.
“With this system there are three winners – the residents, the retailers and the municipality”
Tackling the parking problem
The problem is all too familiar. Many cities in our country have a limited number of parking spaces available in the city centre, which is precisely where most of the shops are located. “As such the parking places at highest demand are often inefficiently managed”, according to Etay Oren, CEO of the tech start-up CommuniThings, which specialises in smart parking. “Very often visitors have to drive around a lot in search of a parking space. Consequently they often find it difficult to run errands or go shopping in the city. So eventually they stay away.” Moreover, it’s not only a problem of availability but also a matter of efficient rotation of vehicles in each parking space”, Etay Oren explains.
NB-IoT-network, sensors and platform
Orange’s NarrowBand-Internet of Things network (NB-IoT) allows for communiThings wireless sensors to be integrated in the road surface and the platform maps out every available parking space. “A mobile app provides the driver with a real-time overview of available parking spaces in the city. This makes the quest for a free space much easier”, says Etay Oren. But there is also an application for municipal staff themselves: traffic wardens get a signal when a car has been parked in the same spot for more than 30 minutes. “In designated commercial centres drivers can park free of charge for thirty minutes”, Oren explains. “When that half hour has elapsed they must leave their parking space. If the car is still there the traffic warden will write a ticket. You might say it’s the carrot and stick approach. This way the city creates maximum opportunity for everyone to find a free parking space.” Meanwhile CommuniThings has rolled out the system in several Belgian cities.
From shop owner to driver: everyone happy
Etay Oren emphasises that everyone wins with this approach. “On the one hand drivers have much less trouble finding a parking space and on top of that parking is free for half an hour. The shop owner on the other hand is also happy because more potential customers walk by his shop. And the municipal authorities are just as happy because they can easily tackle long-term parkers. Traffic wardens no longer have to check cars at random. Instead, our app notifies them when a car has been parked for too long.” Thanks to this system every sensor-based parking space in the city is used with maximum efficiency.
CommuniThings provides the platform that collects, visualises and analyses the data, also for reporting purposes vis-à-vis the municipal authorities. The NarrowBand-Internet of Things network offered by operator Orange is a crucial factor in this system. “The network is available anywhere and is operational almost as soon as the rollout is completed. Also, there is indoor coverage, which is useful for (underground) car parks. Moreover, such an NB-IoT network is also highly effective at saving the battery power of our sensors. They easily last five years”, Etay Oren adds. “For a project that uses the Internet of Things these are all very important assets.”