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What is an IoT-based parking system & how does it work?Although the global Smart Parking market is projected to reach $5.25 billion by 2021 (up from $ 2.13 billion two years ago), the majority of the available car park monitoring systems are expensive and fail to provide accurate data. How come?
The thing is, most vendors that design Smart Parking systems using IoT technologies implement vehicle detection sensors which collect data on space occupancy and length of stay and send it to an on-premises or Cloud-based server. The sensors can be mounted to the wall or planted into the ground; unless we’re talking about an indoor parking lot, property owners should go the extra mile to protect the hardware from moisture and changes in temperature – and it certainly affects development costs.There’s also the accuracy of a car monitoring solution. Suppose an irresponsible driver has occupied two places instead of one? Obviously, sensors don’t know how to deal with a two-space parker; depending on the vehicle’s position, the Smart Parking IoT system would notify other drivers and car park managers that the space in question is either vacant or taken up by two cars.
The only way to put up a cost-effective and highly accurate parking lot monitoring system is to develop a wired solution incorporating low-noise IP cameras.
A camera-based Smart Parking Internet of Things solution & how it’s madeYou run a shopping mall with an outdoor parking lot. In order to enable effective car monitoring, you should install several wide angle cameras along the perimeter of the building. The IP cameras should be connected to the Internet and positioned perpendicular to the pavement; what the gadgets see is the parking lot marking and rectangular spots denoting cars. A software application which analyzes video content and generates notifications on parking space occupancy is the central component of a camera-based system. The app employs a neural network with built-in learning capabilities; how does it make decisions regarding parking space occupancy? While working on the solution, software developers feed a couple thousand images displaying vacant and occupied spots to the neural network. The AI algorithm then analyzes camera output data and compares it to the sample pictures. Thanks to the innovative technology (which does not come cheap!), the system can tell you the exact number of available spots taking into account the actual car position data. Provided we’re dealing with an outdoor parking lot, you only have to install 5 to 10 cameras to observe the entire space.
And what if you want to improve the efficiency of indoor parking facilities?The standard height of a garage ceiling (usually four meters) limits the field of view of an IP camera to just 10-15 parking spaces, so you’ll have to add extra gear to your system.
When it comes to software, a typical IoT-powered Smart Parking solution features:
- Embedded systems running on IP cameras (C++).
- Image processing software with machine learning capabilities.
- A PHP/MySQL web-based console supporting data management and settings configuration.
- An API enabling property owners to integrate Smart Parking software with other Internet of Things solutions (including Building Management Systems) and web/mobile apps within their IT infrastructure.
How much does it cost to create a Smart Parking system using IoT?Based on our IoT dev experience, we estimate the price of a stand-alone car park monitoring solution at $ 60-80 thousand; the sum covers software development costs only.
What about hardware?
According to Pavel Shylenok, CTO at R-Style Lab (make sure to check his profile at r-stylelab.com), a camera-based Smart Parking solution cannot be implemented with the standard IoT microcomputers like Raspberry Pi. Instead, IP cameras should be connected to a video data logger which sends images to a data center (which, in its turn, processes camera output and provides stats on space occupancy). The cost of an industrial data logger seldom exceeds $5 thousand; the device is powerful enough to manage up to 200 IP cameras (priced at $300 each).Additional costs might be associated with the system design and installation – especially if you intend to smarten up a parking lot management system in a “dumb” building.
Further evolution of intelligent parking systemsConnected parking lots have become a poster child for IoT vendors involved in Smart City projects. It does make sense – after all, 30% of traffic congestion is caused by drivers looking for a vacant parking spot. Rumor has it Google now wants to assume total control of US public transport and parking management. Although the company patented an IoT car park monitoring system back in 2005 and boasts unprecedented experience in mapping, Big Data processing and AI development, it remains to be seen whether Google’s plans will eventually come to fruition.
All in all, the Smart Parking concept holds promise for both business and governmental structures (no matter what their goals are). Provided you address a reliable software vendor, choose between a sensor- and camera-based parking lot management system taking into account your needs and existing infrastructure and purchase certified hardware, your project is doomed to success.