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Reducing traffic congestion in city centers with smart planning of parking areas

30% of all traffic congestion in urban centers is a result of occupied parking lots, which in various ways decreases the quality of life in cities.

Parking in cities is becoming more difficult every day. With the number of cars continuously increasing – by 2035, 2 billion cars will be driving on our roads –, a driver on average spends 20 to 40 minutes a day searching for a parking space. This is not only a waste of time and a reason for bad mood, but also impacts the environment negatively. Traffic jams, noise and increased CO2 emissions are just a few negative consequences.

The impact of rapid urbanization urges cities to much more deliberate activities regarding the environment, where data plays a key role. Smart cities have therefore been introducing advanced platforms that provide a better control over parking areas and direct cars to available parking lots via applications on smart devices.

The results of such smart initiatives regarding parking in city centers are already visible in some places: the reduction of traffic congestion, fewer problems with noise and a better air quality. Cities that have established a greater control over the flow of parking lot traffic are recording a higher quality of life. In the Spanish city of Santander, they have reduced traffic jams during rush hours as a result of parking systems for as much as 80%. Thanks to advanced systems, Barcelona has now more control over public parking areas, it has increased revenues, and created thousands of new jobs.

With mobile devices, parking is a quick and easy experience.

Systems connected to cameras, sensors and mobile devices provide a greater transparency over available parking spaces in city centers, as well as over traffic itself. Cities can use them to detect the need for new parking spaces in certain areas; if a parking lot is preoccupied, they can redirect drivers to the parking areas nearby; and civil servants can better trace parking violations and properly record as well as sanction them.Smart parking lots bring residents and the city a lot of benefits:

Benefits for cities

- Increase in revenue by improving the supervision of a parking meter lease.

- Better use of parking lots – greater control over availability and redirection to free parking spaces.

Benefits for citizens

- Less time on the road and reduced fuel consumption.

- Fewer traffic jams, which can improve the quality of life.

- Suggestions for the best parking space on the basis of the current location.

- Voice guidance to the parking lot.

- Paying for parking with a mobile device.

Nowadays, the power of innovation and information has a significant impact on changing cities into powerful systems. Platforms for city management can combine unconnected databases with comprehensive solutions that improve the driving experience in city centers. Monitoring real-time traffic, for example, helps drivers find a faster or safer way to work and avoid congestion. This way, they save time, energy and money, and with the use of platforms for urban management cities can cut the negative consequences for the environment created by the everyday urban traffic.

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