Parking: Relieving a Global Pain
By Joe Maglitta
Parking a major headache where you work, shop, dine or live? Get in line. A new IBM survey of more than 8,000 drivers in 20 cities on 10 continents finds a world in badly in need of smarter parking solutions. How bad is it?
• In the past year, nearly six out of 10 drivers got so frustrated by their inability to find a spot they gave up and headed home.
• Drivers searching for parking spots represent one-third of urban traffic.
• More than a one-quarter of drivers polled have gotten into an argument with a fellow motorist over a parking space (New Delhi, Bangalore, Nairobi and Milan top the hot-head list).
Sound depressingly familiar?
To get a better handle on this key global problem, researchers looked key issues: longest time drivers spent looking for a space, how often they failed to find one, fights over spots, and number of parking tickets issued. The resulting “IBM Parking Index” showed it’s bad everywhere, especially in developing economies.
Topping the worst list were New Delhi (140), Bangalore (138), Beijing (124), Moscow, Shenzen and Paris (all 122). Major U.S. problem spots such as New York City (85), Los Angeles (61) and Chicago (51) actually looked good in comparison.
Coupled with the results of the equally depressing 2011 Commuter Pain survey, the parking study starkly illustrates the high emotional and economic toll that is frazzling drivers and economies.
IBM through its Smarter Transportation efforts is working with cities and other governments to apply business analytics to this problem.
The day after the study was released this week, IBM followed with a hopeful example of how cities can use analytics to manage congestion, improve parking efficiency and makes it easier to find parking.
The company announced a collaboration with Streetline, Inc., the leading global provider of smart parking solutions.
As an initial step to help cities better manage parking and reduce congestion, the pair announced “The Smarter Parking Starter Kit.” It’s a pre-integrated solution
Combines information management and advanced analytics from IBM with data gathered from parking sensors and applications from Streetline.
Using real-time information, Smarter Parking is supposed to help cities better analyze, optimize and manage parking and other transportation systems and help drivers find parking more easily, for everyday traffic and for special events.
Streetline’s tracks cars using a network of ultra-low power wireless sensors located in individual parking spaces. This information is then made available in real time both to the city, as well as to consumers via Parker, a free smartphone app via the iTunes Store or Android marketplace.
Using this real-time parking data combined with advanced parking analytics built on IBM Cognos, cities can then tap into this information to understand important factors including hourly occupancy, occupancy by block, parking duration, and trends by area.
There potential environmental payoffs also are huge. A recent study found that vehicles looking for parking in just a 15-block district in Los Angeles drove more than 950,000 miles, produced 730 tons of carbon dioxide and used 47,000 gallons of gasoline.
“Parking is one of those universal challenges that most people around the globe can relate to,” said Zia Yusuf, president and CEO of Streetline. “With this fully integrated offering, cities now have a turnkey Smarter Parking solution that can produce tangible results and happier citizens.”