- May 1, 2021: Vol. 8, Number 5

Smart parking technologies give an old game new life

by Adam Wears

Any experienced driver knows the frustration of struggling to find a parking spot, and city planners have been foiled for years in trying to ameliorate the problem. Any experienced investor in parking properties knows the frustration and lost profits of parking’s old-fashioned inefficiency.

Then smart parking came along. The basic function of smart parking systems is the provision of accurate, real-time data to drivers regarding the location of vacant parking spaces. Sensors such as surface and flush mount sensors and overhead sensors are among some of the most commonly used technologies to allow operators to gather information from several dozen spaces simultaneously, while simultaneously utilizing existing overhead infrastructure, such as lampposts, to bring drivers and empty spaces together.

Adam Wears is a research analyst with Juniper Research, a firm specializing in identifying and appraising new high-growth market sectors within the digital ecosystem.

What is smart parking?

Smart parking describes parking facilities that have embraced smart technologies for the purposes of optimizing their operations, whether in terms of helping drivers find empty spaces faster, improving revenues and driving down costs, and/or expanding the scale of services offered.

How many cities are using it?

We’ve seen smart-parking systems deployed in countless cities across North America, Europe and Asia, and we expect this growth to continue at a compound annual growth rate of 28 percent over the next four years. The biggest predictor of where this growth will occur has less to do with the number of vehicles in a given location or even the affordability of these systems, but rather the number of existing parking facilities that can be retrofitted with smart-parking technologies, owing to the spatial and financial challenges inherent to constructing new parking facilities in cities. This is largely why we don’t anticipate widespread adoption of smart parking technologies in India and Africa; not because there isn’t demand for parking in cities such as Mumbai and Abuja, but because there isn’t a large body of regulated facilities that can be easily augmented with smart parking technologies.

How is it changing cities that use it?

The scale and complexity of most parking facilities means the average driver often spends several minutes attempting to locate a parking space that, multiplied by hundreds if not thousands of drivers in the same city, in the exact same situation, creates massive amounts of congestion and emissions. By augmenting their facilities with smart technologies, parking operators can help drivers find parking spaces quickly and easily, thereby significantly reducing the scale and severity of these harmful, costly side effects. The strength of this benefit to cities will only increase as more cities and parking operators adopt these technologies. We’re already seeing widespread deployment of smart parking systems around the world, particularly in North America and Europe, where there is both a large vehicle population and a large number of existing parking facilities able to be retrofitted with smart-parking devices.

How much is being invested in these technologies and for what benefits?

Our report predicts that by 2025 investment in smart-parking hardware and software will reach $1 billion, up from $460 million in 2021. The vast majority of this spend will be driven, as previously indicated, by parking operators looking to augment their existing facilities with smart sensors, signage and management platforms. By investing in these technologies, parking operators will not only benefit from the environmental savings that come with reducing congestion, but the improvements in revenues and savings that reducing congestion can also drive. Where drivers searching for empty spaces generate congestion outside parking facilities, passing motorists may perceive this as an indication the facility is full and park elsewhere, if not entirely eschew private transportation and inner-city shopping facilities in favor of public transportation and out-of-town developments respectively. By adopting smart-parking technologies, however, drivers are able to find parking spaces quickly and easily, which reduces congestion in and outside of parking facilities and, thereby, serves to make their premises more attractive to other motorists, driving revenues at a level hopefully sufficient to offset the initial and recurring costs of deploying these systems.

What future capabilities are smart-parking systems expected to have?

We expect smart parking vendors to increasingly focus on the connectivity between smart parking sensors, management platforms and drivers, particularly with the rise of V2X (vehicle-to-everything) technologies. V2X will enable parking operators’ management platforms to gather data about parking occupancy levels directly from vehicles as well as communicate precise turn-by-turn directions to vacant spaces directly to drivers.

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