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Smart Parking Integration and Requirement Gaps

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Screen Shot 2018-10-26 at 10.27.08 AM

By William Dupley


The development of a complete functional requirements analysis is the foundation for a successful smart parking project. Unfortunately, many smart parking projects miss requirements and have gaps in four different areas.

  1. Parking Solutions Limitations: There are many vendors now expounding the unique features and benefits of their smart parking products. However, the reality is that no vendor can do it all.  For example, one company may only supply an outdoor sensor, another may only supply an indoor sensor. They also may not provide the Big Data Business Intelligence capabilities required.
  2. Parking Integration: Parking integration involves integrating the parking system’s data with other systems’ data within a city environment. The data can be combined to create services that exploit integration.
  3. IT Operating Model Integration: Smart parking solutions do not stand alone and must be integrated into the existing IT operating model. One report has identified that 77% of IoT projects will impact the current IT operating model.
  4. Human Factors: Smart parking is an IoT project — and IoT may sound like it is all about technology. However, human factors like culture, organization, and leadership are critical. Three of the four top elements behind a successful IoT project have to do with people and relationships.

These gaps can cause significant issues for parking authorities if not uncovered early in a project lifecycle.  

  1. Parking Solution Limitations

Smart Parking Pilot projects are generally limited to one type of parking. This may be a parking lot or a street-level parking solution. Rarely do they include all types of parking facilities.

Below are a few of the shortfalls:

  • Street level parking and open parking lots are well served by visual recognition sensors or embedded sensors. However, there can be issues with these types of sensors. For example, visual recognition systems require a clear line of sight of all parking spots. Trees or other obstacles can limit their ability to detect if a parking spot is occupied. Parking occupancy accuracy has been one of the biggest complaints with current detection systems.
  • Embedded parking sensor battery life and the effort required to replace batteries have become an issue for parking lot systems.
  • Embedded parking sensors work well for assigned parking spots, but cannot detect illegal parking conditions such as cars parking in loading docks or bike lanes. These sensors also cannot tell the system the size of the parking spot.
  • Both embedded and visual recognition technology can be used in a parking garage; however, ultrasonic sensors may better serve these spots.
  • Parking management, parking revenue, and parking optimization value steps have extensive Big Data/Business intelligence requirements that packaged parking solutions may not enable.  
  • Many cities are now making their parking data available through Open Data publications. Not all parking solutions can deliver this requirement.
  • Visual recognition systems require significant bandwidth from the network or wireless provider. This demand needs to be forecasted into the operational costs.
  1. Parking Integration Capabilities

A Smart Parking system must enable the Parking Integration value step with the following capabilities:

  • Ability to integrate parking availability directly to a car’s dashboard
  • Capability to link parking availability to a vehicle navigation system
  • Power to reserve and pay for the parking spot in advance, cutting down congestion and pollution
  • Ability to present parking data to public transport organizations to determine public transport demand
  • Capacity to understand the impact of removing parking spots for a part of the city
  • Ability to forecast the electrical demand on the city grid by electric cars
  • Predict overnight parking demands for electric cars for charging
  • Capability to integrate into communication service providers in all parking lots
  • Ability to link congestion charging to citywide parking availability
  • Ability to anonymized data about where people begin journeys, not just where they end, and where they go in the city to optimize city traffic management models
  • Ensure that parking cameras, sensors, and payments are interoperable
  • Ability to integrate parking management systems with city demographics to determine pricing strategy
  • Power to develop a city-wide smart parking application across fragmented public and private parking providers
  • Ability to publish to open data subset of the data

If these use cases are not considered when doing a Smart Parking project, the solution may need to be replaced. Parking Integration provides one source of data that can be used by external organizations and app developers in the production of integrated parking applications. Additionally, in-car solutions will make finding a parking space even more accessible and payment seamless.

Roadify Case study

Roadify is an excellent example of a city-wide transit application solution. It started in 2009 as a free app that helped New York City residents find parking spaces. The app has since expanded to cities nationwide and now provides real-time transit information about schedules, delays, accidents and more from crowd-sourced commentary about local transit conditions. Roadify is an excellent example of system integration.

  1. IT Operating Model Integration

Smart Parking is an IoT project. One report has identified that 77% of IoT projects will have some or significant impact on the current IT operating model.

To address this requirement, a thorough impact assessment should be conducted to identify where the current IT operating model will need to be changed to address the Smart Parking system.

The OACA (Open Alliance for Cloud Adoption) organization provides excellent tools for conducting this type of assessment. Their tools offer the ability to assess 31 domains of an IT operating model and evaluate the impact of the Smart Parking solution on the current system. Below is an overview of the Business and Technical domains that are included in their assessment:

  1. Human Factors

“A new study released by Cisco at its Internet of Things World Forum 2017 (IoTWF) in London revealed that 60 percent of IoT initiatives stall at the proof of concept (PoC) stage. Only 26 percent of companies have had an IoT initiative that they considered a complete success, while a third of all completed projects were not considered a success.”

The primary reasons for these failures have to do with our last category of missed requirements, human factors. There must be active collaboration between IT and the business. Senior management support is critical, and a technical-focused culture is imperative. Organizations that are most successful recognize that they don’t have all the skills needed in-house and use partners at every phase. IoT initiatives often look good on paper but prove much more difficult than anyone expected to implement. 


Parking integration is a critical requirement for all smart parking solutions, creating the foundation for a smart city initiative. The existing IT environment will be impacted. Like all IoT parking, Smart Parking solutions open the current IT environment to new security risks and service management challenges. New skills need to be developed in an IT organization. However, the opportunities that Parking Integration opens can dramatically change the livability of any city.

About the Author:

Bill is the Digital Strategist for FoxNet Solutions. Formerly the Cloud Chief Technologist for Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Canada, Bill has provided Hybrid IT and IoT Strategic Planning advisory and planning services to over fifty Private and Public sector clients to help them migrate to a Hybrid IT Cloud Operating model. These transformation plans have helped both government and industry reduce the cost of IT, re-engineer their IT governance models, and reduce the overall complexity of IT. Bill is also a member of the Open Alliance for Cloud Adoption Team and has co-authored several documents on Cloud Maturity and Hybrid IT implementation.


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