We all know that climate change is not only a reality, it’s an increasing threat for our lives as we know them. Researchers are unanimous: we need to find ways to improve our habits so that we can prolong the lifespan of our precious planet. In this post, we’ll discuss the ecological benefits of smart parking.
In the very most straightforward terms the problem is the following. We keep pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which results in the increased heating of the Earth. The hotter it gets, the more changes take place and the harder it gets for life forms to survive, and eventually for anything to live on this planet.
Now, driving is one of the things that creates emissions, no doubt about that. You might ask, then, why we are talking about sustainability in an industry that is indisputably a part of the car-driving business. What does parking have to do with saving the environment?
The answer is very simple. We cannot stop people from driving cars, wish we could, but that’s not a realistic premise. What we can do, however, is make driving more environmentally friendly, by reducing the environmental impacts of parking a car.
So, how does smart parking do that exactly?
It makes you drive less and do it more economically
One of the biggest things causing excessive driving in city centers is looking for a parking spot. When you don’t know where there’s a parking space available, you drive around until you find one. According to calculations, cruising for a parking space adds somewhere between 3.5 and 14 minutes to a journey – and that extra time means extra emissions.
In addition to longer driving time, cars looking for parking contribute a lot to city congestion. Congested streets mean that cars accelerate, decelerate and stay on standby, and that is a very uneconomical way of driving. It eats up more gas than going at a steady speed, thus also producing more pollution to the atmosphere.
It has famously been estimated that an average 30 % of downtown traffic consists of cars looking for available parking. That’s a lot of extra minutes and a lot of stopping and starting.
A digital parking solution makes a tremendous impact for the better. By showing in real time where parking is available, the unnecessary cruising can be completely removed. This lessens driving time and reduces congestion, making the environmental burden lighter. The accumulative effects of a smoother parking traffic flow can be significant for city air quality and long-term sustainability.
It’s digital instead of physical
Think about all the paperwork that comes with parking. The countless receipts, parking fines and permits that are taken out of machines or being mailed to people daily. There are around 240 million passenger cars in the U.S. alone, and that’s only a fraction of the entire driving population so it’s safe to say that the total number is not small.
Paper production processes require cutting tons of trees, and using tons of water. Those processes lead to deforestation, which harms the livelihood in natural areas. The effect of paper does not end on production, but getting rid of it either creates methane (if rotten) or carbon dioxide (if composted or burnt). Unfortunately, both old-fashioned coin-operated meters and digital meters do spit out a receipt for every single parking.
The same is true of manufacturing and supporting parking hardware. Raw material and energy resources are spent on creating parking meters. After setup, they are regularly emptied and maintained, and for example having to drive to those locations again increases emissions.
When those processes are made digital, the impact gets smaller. Receipts and other documents can be produced on the screen of a smartphone, or even just in a database of enforcement officials. Either way, the pieces of paper never need to materialize into this world, and neither does any of that burden on the environment that their production would have caused. Same goes for payment stations. When information is delivered digitally, they don’t need to be built or maintained and the resources are saved.
It can be integrated into other smart city technologies
In addition to parking going digital, there are a lot of other ways in which cities are being developed to withstand our increasing population. Shared mobility, electric cars, traffic monitoring systems and automated route selection, to name a few, all help reduce the environmental impact of mobility. Combined with smart parking solutions like parking apps, they make the whole driving experience significantly more sustainable.
Additionally, together with smart infrastructure developments, parking solutions can also steer traffic away from city centers and towards for example public transport hotspots to reduce those highly polluting jams. The data that gets collected by different parties of the smart network gives valuable information on how city mobility works, and how it can be improved.
When different APIs are integrated, they become a network of more sustainable solutions which then accumulate into significant pollution reduction. To have all of them available seamlessly also makes their usage more appealing for people.
Choosing digital parking reduces the carbon footprint
Taking sustainability into consideration is something that all industries increasingly have to do. There’s really no shifting the responsibility to other stakeholders when it comes to lessening the burden on the environment.
Ever-developing technology makes it possible for industries to find ways to be more sustainable. That’s why it’s important to acknowledge the potential that smart parking solutions have to improve not only the livability of cities’ when it comes to convenience, but also to the long-term healthiness of our living environment.
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Main photo by “Stefan Steinbauer” from Unsplash/CC
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