Automatic sensors, mobile apps, shared spaces take the sting out of parking
Imagine heading to work, taking the family out for the weekend, visiting a client or a friend in another part or town or just heading out to dinner. Where will you park your car? Valets aren’t often available (or reliable), street spots are hard to find, paid parking is exorbitant, plus you have to pay in cash and tip, and someone in the car will inevitably grumble that you should have just booked an Uber.
“Disposable income, expansion of the middle-income group and inadequate and poor quality public transport services have given rise to the average 9-10% growth in car and two-wheeler population in less than a decade,” says Gaurav Dubey, programme manager of Sustainable Mobility at Centre for Science and Environment in New Delhi.
Big cities are now treating parking spots as a different kind of real estate, using tech to address these concerns.
Rasik Pansare, co-founder of smart parking company Get My Parking (GMP) estimates, “urban motorists spend about 20 minutes searching for parking spaces due to inefficient parking management. The only way forward are smart solutions at parking spaces.” The GMP app displays free parking spots in neighbourhoods so that citizens, government agencies and parking operators need not scramble to find them.
TAGGED FOR SPEED
The first solution: digital identification and payment. Remember how watchmen would recognise the stickers on your windshield and let you into your complex or club? Now, sensors do the same, scanning identification cards attached to the side of vehicles to screen entrants, determine whether they are visitors or locals, whether they should pay to park, and also keep track of how often they use a facility.
Fast tags on parking apps allow parking charges to be directly linked to credit and debit cards, as well as e-wallets, says Jash Choraria, founder of innovative building company Unifynd. Parking slots can be reserved in advance, and payment is made easy through credit and debits cards as well as digital wallets.
Earlier this year, Hyderabad Metrol Rail Ltd (HMRL) launched the Park Hyderabad app, powered by the GMP platform. At Park 24x7 Technologies, founder Avishek Tarafdar, says that the use of QR codes for payment and identification are becoming increasingly popular at parking facilities. They’ve tied-up with office buildings in busy areas of Kolkata, and plan to open up unoccupied spaces and private home garages to the public through their app. Tarafdar says that in Kolkata, AJC Bose Road, Park Street, Esplanade and Salt Lake Sector 5 have huge parking demands. In Mumbai, the most demand comes from areas like Nariman Point, Andheri West.
LEARNING TO SHARE
Parking problems are only going to get worse. Approximately 5 billion of the world’s population will live in urban areas within the next decade and sharing spaces (rides, offices, and yes, cars and parking) is one way of ensuring smooth movement of traffic.
“Ridesharing leads to a decline in the number of single-occupancy vehicles on highways,” says Pansare. “Through park-and-ride facilities, the population driving into cities from the outskirts can park their vehicles at convenient spaces and continue their journey onwards on high-occupancy vehicles.” He believes that municipalities must consider allowing multiple users to share parking areas. Puzzle parking, stack parking and automatic valet parking are common in residential plots in Mumbai where owners have more than two cars, but office spaces which are typically empty at night, could let their parking spaces out to residents nearby or to movie theatres which do not have parking facilities. “Creating an intelligent parking ecosystem could generate more businesses and could lead to eco-parking solutions like electric vehicle charging facilities,” Pansare says.
Offices and gated communities can then use tech to customise who can use a parking space and for how long. They can pre-book slots for visitors they anticipate. And they could have the greatest luxury of all – a reserved spot that no one can sneak their vehicle into.
CONNECT AND PARK
Pansare’s GMP managed parking for the Maha Kumbh Mela in May 2016. He noticed that pilgrims opted for parking spaces as meeting points, which reduced congestion near the mela. Similarly, parking locations in large office properties where employees typically gather during lunch hours can be used as landmarks for delivery apps, to ease the process.
Tridib Konwar and Mriganka Deka’s data-driven parking platform, ParkRhino, has been operating in Bengaluru since 2015. It is powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning and has several tie-ups with hospitals and the Indian Railways. ”Apps that are already powered by GPS – such as food or delivery apps, will be linked to parking apps in the future for facilities like quick servicing on spot as well as movie ticket and parking confirmations together,” says Konwar, the CEO and co-founder of the company.