Innovations in the tech sector are going wild, and the smart city and parking are areas where it follows the same as in other places. We are already at a place where parking apps are used widely, and it doesn’t stop there.
We picked out three interesting concepts that will for sure play a role in the future of smart parking. The size, shape and effect of those roles are still of course unclear, but these are things to look out for when navigating in the changing sphere of smart urbanism.
1. Augmented reality
Augmented reality is a concept that has been flashed in conversations and visions for a long while, and now it’s slowly moving from utopian to graspable. AR is a way to add an extra level of information onto the sensed reality, things it’s not possible to see without technology (not to be confused with virtual reality, which means creating a whole new, made up reality). It’s kind of difficult to explain AR in a few words, but perhaps the best way is to paint a word picture: you put on a pair of glasses, they create an extension for your vision, and show you information about the space you’re in: temperature, air quality, or anything else relevant.
In situations with limited visibility (like parallel parking or bad weather), augmented reality could provide the needed information to park and leave a parking space safely. AR can also turn any kind of view into an interactive screen, so any information a driver might need about the route can be displayed right in front of them, rather than through a separate device.
Potential for parking is basically an extension of the potential for driving in general: more information to base decisions and choices on, more security and more efficiency. When a driver can communicate with a vehicle and its surroundings in additional ways, it makes parking safer, easier and smarter.
Crowdsourcing isn’t a technology in itself, but it is something that can be created with technology, and something that tech can take to the next level. It means resourcing the user base of a product or service, so that it becomes close to a self-sustaining entity. Youtube is the most infamous crowdsourced media – its users are both the creators and the consumers of the videos. Another example would be Airbnb – the service brings together a renter and a house owner, without having to produce anything other than a place online for them to meet. The scaling happens organically: the more people contribute, the better the service becomes, and the more people join.
We’ve written about crowdsourcing before in relation to parking, and especially as a replacement for sensors – sharing information about available parking spots between drivers themselves. Crowdsourcing can help get rid of hardware and manual labour, and produce an ecosystem of information, be it about traffic, availability or even valet parking.
At the same time, it enables cutting costs that would go into gathering and sharing information in other ways. To turn towards crowdsourcing is a huge opportunity, because it generates growth from growth, and simultaneously makes a service more comprehensive.
Blockchain technology is essentially a way of verifying, moving and storing data. The way it works is that there are blocks, each containing timestamped transaction data, and the data of all the previous blocks. All of these entities create, as the name suggests, a chain. The information on those blocks is then spread onto a ton of computers all around, making it decentralized. The whole process is quite complex, and not easily graspable without a deeper tech knowledge, but the point is that the system has been created in a way that it cannot be tampered with. And therein lies the potential that it has to offer: security.
Blockchain makes transactions as safe as they come, because the blocks cannot be hacked. The most obvious need for it is in online payments. When people think about blockchain, they often think about Bitcoin, because that’s the most known service that uses it. There are, however, many other ways of utilizing it.
The biggest potential it has to offer for parking is of course in parking payments. Additionally, it could also be used to secure user information, or basically any transactions where some sort of data is being given and received. When an increased amount of info is continuously being collected from vehicle use, the security of that data becomes a more and more crucial question. Some consider blockchain to be as secure as it gets out there in the digital realm.
With different tech tools, the opportunities for parking are endless
So, imagine a parking industry that is able to produce increased usability because of AR, more information because of crowdsourcing, and state-of-the-art security because of blockchain. There is all the potential for that, if these technologies develop to be able to be applied to parking.
These concepts will also affect parking indirectly, when they are introduced in other aspects of the city: traffic, transportation, vehicle manufacturing, communication and so forth. All in all, this won’t be the last you hear of them, and chances are, they will make smart urban living safer, better and more cost-effective.
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Main photo by “Randall Bruder“ from Unsplash/CC