Westminster City Council is piloting the use of sensors that can alert drivers to empty parking spaces through a mobile app. For the first time, small glass-domed senors have been installed in the centre of every parking bay. They can tell when there isn’t a vehicle in the spot, when there is, and when the vehicle has stayed longer than the allotted time.
The way this is works is that the sensors centrally collect details about empty bays and then send this data to motorists via wi-fi and a mobile app so they can use the vacant spot. If a driver overstays their allotted time in a parking space, the sensors will send parking authorities an alert so that a warden can be sent around to put a penalty on their windscreen. The sensors’ data will also be available to Westminster parking wardens so they help direct drivers to empty spaces.
Of course, these alerts aren’t free and drivers will have to pay to receive them over the phone. Westminster City Council already charges as much as £4.40 for motorists to park on the streets of London. When the sensors are in full operation, it’s planned that the system will send motorists special alerts when the time they have paid for is running out. The potential for variable tariffs during off-peak and peak periods will also be looked into. Officials will also assess the potential for motorists being able to pre-book parking spots – including lorries or coaches that need to load and unload cargo/passengers.
Westminster City Council will be running the trial until October 15. It will use 135 parking spaces on four streets – 5 bays on Burlington Gardens; 16 on Jermyn Street; 29 on Savile Row; 31 on Sackville Street; and 54 on St John’s Wood High Street. These will include bays for passing drivers, doctors, taxis, diplomatic officials, the disabled and residents. However, parking authorities think that the scheme could be rolled out through all of London if the pilot is successful, as well as to other cities like Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
The trial is a collaboration between the council and car-park company Town and City Parking Ltd. Car Parking Technologies Ltd, the parent firm, developed the street sensor system. Information will be linked to the Parkopedia website, which provides the mobile app and already gives up-to-date information on parking. Other app or software app developers will also get access to the data collected from the street sensors.
A Westminster City Council spokesman says that this system can potentially be rolled out across the whole country. They are testing the first system of its kind in Europe and installing smart sensors in parking spaces for the first time on UK streets. This will provide the latest information about parking bay availability in real time, allowing people to view the details from their mobile phone or tablet to find an empty space. The system will reduce congestion and lessen the need for drivers to pace streets in search of a place to park.
The spokesman also said that traffic volume data can be shared with businesses for their own use – for the availability of loading bays and vacant parking for West End theatres. The system could also be used to combat disabled badge fraud, manage electric charging spaces and pedestrian zones, and fight against false use of coach bays and taxi ranks. The city started installing the sensors in March, and some visitors have noticed them already.Author's Google+ page