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Smart Parking - Open data
September 13, 2018 1:08 pm Published by

SmartParking is making headlines across the world and helping drivers find open parking spots. Can government use this data effectively to bring real public benefit?

Sensors are now being used in multiple applications in the Internet of Things (IoT) world. Many of us are familiar with the ‘smart home’ capabilities brought upon by consumer products like Nest thermostats or Amazon Alexa. Cities have been using meter reading devices for a while, but are making inroads into many other uses of IoT today.

For example, Infranovate has a ‘smart bench’ that provides free wifi, can charge your phone, provide weather KPIs to the city, measure traffic – both human and vehicles, as well as serve as a place to sit down. This is in beta mode with the city of Toronto.

This past month, the Public Sector Digest topic was on Open Data. Our contribution to the PSD issue was visualizing the open data created via the new smart parking implementation in Stratford. This project was partly sponsored by the Canada’s Open Data Exchange with integration of several Canadian firms being led by Waterloo’s FoxNet.

Why does it matter?

Knowing the patterns of use of city services will enable government to better meet the demands that come up. In the smart parking case seen here, one can quickly see over the course of a day the occupancy of parking on the streets.

Some spots are busy all the time while others are not used as much. Days of the week make a difference.

We made the assumption that usage would vary across events/festivals that a city endorses.

Using smart parking sensors like this we are able to prove there are significant differences in across events.

On the ‘Churn’ tab, we wanted to see if the average time of occupancy varied at different locations downtown across typical weekends vs even weekends.

The data clearly shows the parking spaces being fuller with longer times during events.

Information like this would allow the city to investigate temporary parking lots for large events that are intended to help their downtown core.

What’s next in this field?

The sky is the limit we are finding, for government applications of IOT.

The more a city knows about the usage of the public assets, the better they are able to meet the public needs.

Imagine multiple sensors at one location recording information for a city. For example, LIDAR detections at one second increments (plus several other sensors, like weather, measuring multiple things) at Infranovate’s smartbench which is recording and classifying movement near it. That is up to half a billion data points a year from one bench. That’s truly BIG data!

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This post was written by Drew Fones

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