Smart Sensors Set to Revolutionise Parking in London

Friday, 24 January 2014

Driving around in circles looking for a parking space could soon be a thing of the past in London, as Westminster Council prepares to implement brand new parking bay technology across its road network.

The parking sensors, which will be installed in bays across the council district from next week, can sense whether a space is already in use. The information is then fed directly into a smartphone app, which gives drivers a real time map of available parking spaces nearby. The app also provides directions to the space, so people who are unfamiliar with the area can park up with ease.

The rollout of the scheme follows a successful trial that took place in popular areas such as Savile Row, which saw the number of people failing to pay for parking drop from 12% to 10%.

As well as generating more cash, the council believes that this technology will help to cut down congestion and carbon emissions by preventing motorists from having to search endlessly for a spot. Speaking to the BBC, the council explained that most people visiting the area drive around for an average of 15 minutes before they can finally leave their vehicles.

Westminster is also considering adding a cashless parking scheme, which has already been inventively dubbed “the Oyster card for cars”. Although details about the scheme are yet to be released, it has been predicted that motorists could apply for a prepaid card, with the parking sensor automatically deducting credit depending on how long they stayed.

Scrambling for change has been a thing of the past in many sectors for a long time now, with smartphone apps and text-to-pay services making it easier than ever to pay for parking. Prepaid cards that interact with automatic sensors could be one of the best innovations yet, though, in the same way that buying road tax and car insurance online has made administration a breeze. The council is aiming to install an impressive 3,000 sensors over the next few months, with other local authorities paying close attention to the results.

Sources:
1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25727117  
2. http://theguardian.com/technology/2014/jan/17/are-londons-drivers-ready-for-the-oyster-card-for-cars  

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