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Bay watch

Jonathan Newell discovers how finding and occupying that elusive parking bay with the help of sensors, infrastructure communications and imaginative payment methods is already operational in parts of the UK, despite the barrier of existing legislation which supports present day pay and display systems


ecent innovations in car parking technology have eased some of the problems thatmotorists face in finding a parking space and paying for it. These innovations

continue to roll out in deployments such as the latestmulti-technology systems installed by APT Skidata in Lewisham, south London, and Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth,Hampshire. To find out how far the combination of

infrastructure connectivity, sensor technology and payment options can take us, I spoke to TomBuck, the chief technology officer of APT Skidata’s holding company, SWARCO Parking and eMobility.

CONNECTED PARKING If we try to predict the way we park in the future, it’s possible to envisage a fusion of technologies involving connected cars, smartphone apps, electronic flexible payment and reservation and self-parking automation. Thismay seema long way off given the

existing problems of circling to find a space, fumbling for change to feed ameter and suffering elapsed time anxiety in the dash to return to the car.However, the technology is there now to enable this to happen. APT Skidata has robust vacant space

detection sensors, Bosch has demonstrated workable, self-parking autonomy and payment systems can be linked to NFC devices, chip and pin cards and even loyalty cards.

46 /// Environmental Engineering /// February 2017 The technology is available to use an app

to select a car park, pay and reserve, gain entry through registration number recognition, be guided to vacant spaces and have the car park itself. It’s also feasible to link all this into a transport network so you can leave your car at the railway station car park or the Park ‘n’ Ride area and have the parking and public transport tickets all billed to one ticket. Given such a utopian ideal, why isn’t it happening right now?

BARRIERS TO CONNECTED TRANSPORT Investing now for an uncertain future is something that is difficult to convince councils, car park and public transport operators to do. According to Buck, the infrastructure hardware involved has a typical life cycle of 25 years and so operators often stick with the familiar pay and display ticketing systems because existing legislation supports easy enforcement. The ability to enforce parking

regulations involves demonstrating that you have a right to be there, either through a ticket in the window or a set of barriers that won’t let you out until you’ve paid. New legislative and enforcementmodels are needed in order to enable alternative payment, access and ticketingmethods. However, according to Buck, this

shouldn’t restrict the change to new methods on a 25-year investment horizon if the correct equipment is installed in the first place. “Pay and display ticketmachines can be supplied that have the flexibility to

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