Parking guidance systems dramatically reduce the wasted time and stress for users trying to find a parking space in congested cities. Kevin Sheldrake, business development manager, Carlo Gavazzi Automation, outlines the benefits of smart parking guidance systems and reveals exactly why car park managers are investing in the technology

Motorists in the UK spend nearly four days a year looking for a parking space. This startling statistic has been revealed in new research from the British Parking Association (BPA) – it’s no wonder that four in 10 motorists say finding somewhere to park is a stressful experience.
According to the BPA, it takes nearly eight minutes to find somewhere to park in London compared to five minutes of searching in the East of England and East Midlands. The monotony and frustrations of driving around looking for a space may well be the reason why 39% of motorists say finding somewhere to park is a stressful experience, with only 20% saying it is stress free. People who park badly and block more than one space (59%) are high on motorists’ list of frustrations, followed by a lack of parking (48%), car parks that are difficult to navigate (27%) and a lack of visible pay and display machines (17%).
When looking for somewhere to park, location (67%), ease of access (51%) and bright lighting (44%) were most important for motorists with clear facilities (10%) and a parking attendant (10%) the least important.
"This survey supports our own research which highlights ease of access and convenience as well as safety and lighting are key issues for motorists when looking to park,” comments Patrick Troy, chief executive of the BPA. “The BPA is committed to assisting motorists in having the best possible parking experience by building public confidence in using newer technologies which can make finding and paying for parking so much easier and more convenient.”
Traffic management systems in smart cities can direct drivers to available parking spaces, easing congestion and saving further waste of time and fuel on the endless search for somewhere to park the car. Once at a car park, it makes sense for there be a car park guidance system to reduce further the stress and time taken for users to find a vacant space.
Indeed, the smart parking market is set for rapid growth. According to market analyst Navigant Research, the market for parking guidance systems was estimated to be worth some USD41 million in 2015. It anticipates a growth in excess of USD300 million over the next 10 years.
There are many reasons why car park owners are investing in parking guidance systems:

  • Increased customer satisfaction due to reduced stress and time in finding available parking spaces in congested carparks in hospitals, airports, shopping centres and leisure facilities
  • Increased productivity because the carpark can be utilised to the very last space and available spaces are announced immediately on the displays and indicators when a car leaves
  • Reduced operating cost due the energy savings when systems are integrated with ventilation and lighting controls
  • Management software provides valuable statistical information that can be used to analyse and improve the car park performance and intuitive graphical user interfaces allow operators to monitor and react to alarm situations much faster
  • Increased car park revenue by utilising multi-colour LED indication for reservation of spaces, and for indication of space status in the payment system.

Ultimately, the higher the occupancy rates, the higher the benefits from a parking guidance system.
As experts in building automation, including lighting and ventilation control as well as smart parking, Carlo Gavazzi is able to offer an integrated solution to generate significant cost savings.
So how does the system work? Each parking bay is fitted with an ultrasonic sensor which will detect if the space is available to provide precise information on the exact number of available parking spaces and disabled bays as well as any reserved spaces. Displays using directional arrows and digits quickly guide the driver using the shortest route.
The system is easily and quickly installed using a 3-wire Dupline bus and is simple to configure. A ceiling-mounted 45° ultrasonic sensor is installed at the entry of each parking space to detect if a vehicle is present, eliminating the need for a separate sensor and indicator.
The flow of cars will change in the carpark. It will be much more calm and quiet than before because the drivers have no confusion about where to go. As a result, the driving in the parking facility will be reduced by 20% or more leading to reduced energy usage for ventilation.
In car parks, lighting and ventilation are the two big energy consumers, and in many cases, the systems are switched on 100% continuously. There is significant potential for energy savings through intelligent demand-based control where lighting levels are based on the presence of people and cars, and the speed of ventilation fans is based on actual measured CO levels.
With the system it is possible to integrate other functions into the system including the monitoring of lighting, ventilation, CO levels and movement detectors. Seamless integration into a building management system (BMS) using the BACnet protocol is possible while lighting control to allow lighting to be dimmed or turned off can be achieved by DALI protocol or relays. The use of I/O modules for ventilation fans can also significantly reduce costs.
The car park guidance system provides a GUI (graphical user interface) management tool via the built-in web server. This displays the status of each space, virtual space availability and bar graphs to show the situation of each level or area and provides statistical data and trends. All data are fully exportable to Excel. Access is available from any PC for real-time monitoring, control and statistics.
Smart car parking guidance is set to soar as users demand technological solutions to the problems and stress associated with finding a parking space. The market is growing: make sure you’re part of the revolution.