How smart parking makes way for smart cities

This blog post is written by Zia Yusuf, the President & CEO of Streetline Inc., as part of the New Cities Foundation's WhatWorks series and is republished with permission.

Data-backed decisions in our day-to-day lives are becoming more common and are helping us confidently make decisions to improve our lives. Real-time traffic lets us know the best route to take, or suggests we run that errand later so we ultimately don't waste time, gas... and patience. Apps like Gas Buddy tell us of local gas station prices so we know where to go to get the most bang for our buck. Fitness trackers like FitBit track, monitor and alert us when we should move around, and help us reach our health and fitness goals by having easy and transparent access to our personal sleep and exercise data.

Now, data is here for parking.

Introducing Next Generation Parking Analytics

Last month, Streetline announced the release of the next generation, real-time and historical parking analytics application, ParkSight 2.0. Displayed in clean, beautiful reports, ParkSight analytics provides access to the valuable data that customers need to make informed decisions around parking management. It is only when 24x7x365 parking space usage is unveiled that cities can make the best, data-based policy and staffing model decisions.

Both smart cities and data-driven decisions were cited as key trends in a survey by American Cities & Counties Magazine. As the demand for data is on the rise, more and more city, university and transportation leaders are turning to smart parking and parking analytics. Their goal is to not only improve their community, but for many cities to start down the path of becoming a smarter city.

As communities search for data to make decisions, ParkSight can provide them — today. Parking analytics make it easy to glean insights into parking behavior to understand and take action. And it is these actions that will have a positive impact on the community.

The road to a smart city begins with smart parking

Streetline has always been focused on providing technology solutions to make smart cities a reality. While parking will always be our core, we are excited to announce plans to expand our sensing capabilities to include sound level and road surface temperature.

By taking advantage of the Streetline Smart Parking Platform, cities will soon have the ability to build on their existing infrastructure to capture new types of data. And, because parking is typically the second or third highest revenue source for a city, a combined parking + road surface temperature + sound level solution is not only technically possible, there is a real return on investment, too! Some cities, for example, can generate a 20-30% increase in parking revenue. With these kinds of returns, starting down the road to becoming a smart city – beginning with smart parking – makes sense from both a budget and enhanced city services point of view.

So, why sound level and why surface temperature? This idea of "street-level sensing" is where the Internet of Things really delivers value in a city. And, in addition to parking, noise complaints and efficient use of city resources rank right up there among the challenges city leaders have voiced as key priorities to address this coming year.

Corporate campuses: a brighter future for daily commuters

Cities and universities have traditionally made up the majority of the Streetline customer base. Recently, we have been exploring other organizations that can benefit from smart parking and smart city applications.

Corporate campuses, for example, see immense potential and value in way-finding for employees and visitors. As the competition for employees continues to rise, employers are constantly looking for ways to differentiate themselves and offer convenience for employee acquisition and retention. By offering real-time occupancy information, corporate campuses can alleviate the hassle of finding a parking space. Additionally, some corporate campuses have turned to real-time guidance in order to avoid having to build a new parking facility. They combat the perceived lack of parking by helping drivers to locate available spaces easily and avoid the hefty cost incurred by new parking infrastructure.

We've only scratched the surface of street-level sensing

I believe we will see a day when future generations will say, "What do you mean you used to circle around the block looking for parking?" and cities will scoff at the thought of not having data and actionable analytics to monitor every city function. We have only scratched the surface on the potential of street-level sensing, but as we continue to fine tune our smart parking offerings, coupled with the introduction of these new sensing types, I’m excited to continue to push the envelope on how technology can enhance the way we live, work and manage our precious resources.

It is truly exciting to witness smart cities come to life! All of us are involved in some way in changing the way our cities operate. The New Cities Foundation is home to individuals and companies who inspire us to keep innovating and expanding the solutions we bring to market to help tackle some of the biggest challenges we are facing as a society.

Streetline believes in the power of innovation and information to transform our cities into communicative, efficient systems, and we are committed to harnessing the power of the Internet of Things to enable the benefits of a truly smart city. We believe that smart parking solutions will transform journey planning from fragmented systems, to an end-to-end solution that will redefine the way people live and work, revolutionize mobility, reduce environmental impact and improve quality of life.

Zia Yusuf is the President & CEO of Streetline Inc., the leading global provider of sensor-enabled smart city solutions. Zia is a seasoned technology executive with a track record of leading companies to success.

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