How parking in Smart Cities will reduce costs for businesses and local authorities image credit - nikolay dimitrov from unsplashParking in cycle lanes, animated discussions with traffic wardens and tempting fate by parking on yellow lines are all part of a road user’s experience in the UK. These everyday stress-inducers occur despite the fact that a remarkable 15%-30% of land in large cities is currently designated for parking.[1]

Likewise, for fleets and logistics companies involved in ‘last mile’ deliveries, the final journey from warehouse to customer is a fraction of the journey a product makes from factory to door, but can account for up to half the cost. Parking is a huge headache for these firms – it is estimated that that 15% of delivery stops involve double parking.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. A different approach is not just possible; it’s already available; one that delivers less polluted, less congested cities simply through better management of the space available. If properly implemented, tech-driven parking solutions can play a major role in addressing parking issues. It’s an approach that’s aligned with the strategic push for smarter cities.

The problem

The above mentioned parking-related stresses are more than just an inconvenience: they’re a very costly burden on the UK economy and a financial drag on local councils and businesses.

The average driver in the UK will spend almost four days a year looking for a parking space[2]. Parking fines come to around £1.2 billion a year. Alongside this there’s congestion and high emissions with the associated noise and health issues. The overall loss to the UK economy is about £26 billion a year.  And this issue translates to businesses as well, particularly  for fleet and logistics companies, or any traders operating in urban spaces with their own fleets.

But technology can now deliver optimum utilisation of parking spaces, integrate payments and implement local traffic regulations. What’s more, local councils that digitise their on- and off-street parking assets can then offer drivers access to information on parking space availability and simple ‘one-click’ payments.

The solution

Digitised parking solutions utilise the Internet of Things to allow smart parking sensors to deliver absolute certainty on parking time, location, payments and other related interactions. Meanwhile, the cars themselves are increasingly part of the traffic management infrastructure, through IoT technology that can help sense parking availability using connected car data.

Such a digitised approach to traffic management offers significant benefits to road users and local councils alike. In the UK, the 418 councils spend around £1 billion a year operating parking services. In addition the cost of managing kerb regulation runs to only about £126 million a year.

Councils across the UK also face lower revenues due to coronavirus, so the already high opportunity cost of not tackling the parking problem is that much greater. They are missing out on fair, effective and efficient revenue generation, along with the opportunity to reduce congestion and air pollution. Not only that, the ease of parking and paying process leads to greater dwell time, resulting in more money going to local businesses and into council coffers.

The example

To see how this can all work in practice, Pimlico Plumbers in London were wasting around half an hour each time they needed a parking space. In addition they were receiving four to five parking tickets a day due to lack of availability. They also had to guess the length of time required for a job, sometimes paying for four or five hours when the job only took one hour. This meant wasted time, stress and unnecessary cost.

To address this, AppyWay provided its “One Click Parking” solution to Pimlico Plumbers. Using a combination of M2M dongles and a mobile app, fleet drivers were able to find available spaces quickly and easily. They then started a parking session with one click and only pay for the minutes parked.

To see how smart parking can help local authorities, look to Yorkshire. There, Harrogate Borough Council, which faced typical challenges that many towns around the UK do – traffic congestion, concerns over air quality, reduction in central government funding and parking challenges in the town centre – decided to work in collaboration with North Yorkshire County Council to implement AppyWay’s Smart City Parking Solution.

Launched in January 2019, the scheme saw the installation of 2,156 smart sensors and the consolidation of digitised parking data, parking payments, automatic number plate recognition (ANPR), parking sensors and linear pricing into a single solution for both councils. This enabled a totally seamless experience for users of the mobile app developed by AppyWay.

The solution allowed users to find on-street or off-street parking with real-time availability. Drivers can then start paying for parking sessions that end automatically when they drive away with a single click.. This establishes an entirely frictionless experience for drivers when passing through ANPR barriers in car parks. Meanwhile, thanks to a web-hosted analytics platform, the local councils can see how their assets were being consumed.

Feedback from consumers in Harrogate was very positive. Of those surveyed, 56% said they saved time parking.  62% said they stayed longer in Harrogate as a result of not worrying about their parking ticket expiring.

It’s not just in Yorkshire where digitised parking solutions are helping local authorities with traffic management. AppyWay has developed the world’s first holistic, end-to-end solution for managing Traffic Regulation Orders, and open, standardised kerbside data. The service is now being utilised by Dorset Council, enabling the local authority to better engage with local residents, businesses and traffic teams across the county.

Supporting driver groups

But besides providing the digital traffic management infrastructure for councils, AppyWay can tailor services for specific user groups. Take the City of London. It is home to just over 9,000 residents, a low number, but it also has to accommodate more than 300,000 people commuting through, working in or visiting the City every day.

For vulnerable road users, this creates a challenge: how to locate and navigate to blue-badge parking areas while driving through one of the busiest square miles in the world.

The local authority, the City of London Corporation, sought to address this issue by making kerbside access for accessibility impaired drivers easier. AppyWay deployed a total of 188 smart-parking sensors throughout the City – one for every blue badge parking bay. The sensors provide real-time availability and occupancy data, which can be seen by accessibility impaired drivers using the free AppyParking mobile app (which also shows the location, rules and prices for all on and off-street parking in the Square Mile).

The direction of travel

More broadly, standardised and interoperable parking data forms part of the UK Government’s ‘Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy’. Key priorities in the strategy – tackling air pollution, congestion, greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution – are all supported by the parking management solution.

But the benefits to business, local authorities and individuals are clear.

  • Local authorities can achieve a raft of efficiency gains, reduce emissions and congestion, and prepare towns and cities for upcoming infrastructural changes such as electric vehicle charge points and accommodating autonomous vehicles.
  • Fleet and logistics companies save money from avoiding parking fines and save time from looking for parking spaces.
  • Individual drivers save time and enjoy more efficient and pleasant experiences in city centres and towns.

It all adds to the compelling case for digitised parking management systems. If you’ll forgive the pun, the direction of travel is clear.

[1] UK Department of Transport: Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy (March 2019)

[2] British Parking Association: Motorists spend nearly four days a year looking for a parking space (2016)

appyway logoAppyWay is a leading kerbside management and smart parking technology firm. It offers the most advanced platform of accurate, standardised data, APIs and tools for smart kerbside management in the world.


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