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Parking in town has become a real nightmare. To keep traffic flowing, support local business and make parking management easier, Orange has implemented smart parking in Braine-l’Alleud.
Looking for a parking spot in town is frequently frustrating and even dangerous for drivers. The constant battle for parking spaces means business owners lose out when customers are unable to find a place quickly enough. The problem has less to do with a lack of available spaces and more to do with people leaving their cars parked in these spaces for too long. What’s more, for the local area, these vehicles represent needless CO2 emissions, air and noise pollution. When we see statistics showing that 30% of drivers in built-up areas have to look for parking and that drivers can spend more than two months of their lives looking for parking spots, the magnitude of the problem becomes all too clear.
A smart platform
To tackle this issue, Braine-l’Alleud has opted for smart parking. ‘The aim is to keep drivers updated, in real time, about free parking spaces in town. At the same time, this will help breathe new life into local businesses,’ explains Didier Panneels, On-Street Manager for CityParking, a subsidiary of Q-Park, that is responsible for managing street parking. ‘Rather than using ground-based sensors, which is a relatively expensive solution, the city has chosen to use smart cameras. They help manage parking spaces using the CommuniThings technology platform, an Orange company partner.”
How does it work? Orange connects their narrowband Internet of Things network to cameras on a platform that shows a map of available parking spaces. The platform then connects, displays and analyses data, whilst its reporting function sends data to the authorities. A smartphone app (available on both Apple and Android) then shows drivers a real-time map of the currently available parking spaces, along with a map that gives them directions to their desired space.
Parking attendants also have an app which enables them to monitor parking. It alerts them when a vehicle stays in a space longer than permitted (with irrefutable evidence of arrival and departure times recorded via cameras). To ensure personal data protection legislation compliance, cameras only record images of parking spaces every five minutes.
The CommuniThings platform will manage a total of 772 parking spaces. ‘This is a first for Belgium,’ explains Didier Panneels, adding that its rapid roll-out has been facilitated by comprehensive network coverage from Orange and the fact that it works as soon as the cameras are installed, in addition to the fact that NB-IoT networks are highly efficient for smart camera batteries.