Lighting the way out of a parking maze


When was the last time you had trouble parking? You’re not alone - it’s estimated the average driver spends four days every year looking for spaces and more than 44% of drivers find parking a stressful experience1. Modern car parks sometimes have signs saying how many free spaces they have, but what about when you get inside? How many hours in those four days are spent circling a car park? With smart ‘signposting’, drivers can easily find a space without tearing their hair out or succumbing to road rage.



Parking pain

According to European Parking Association there are upwards of 21,756,000 off-street spaces across the continent. Other statistics talk about four spaces per vehicle (in the US). It seems there’s plenty of space, and that car parks keep growing. But still parking remains a daily nightmare and is a key factor in urban planning, part of the larger mobility issue top of mind for cities everywhere.



Even when you know a car park has space, the vast, potentially confusing layout of a typical indoor car park can make it feel like you are in a kind of auto-maze. Add the element of urgency - everyone seems to be in a rush now - and it’s easy to see why it stresses drivers out.


Recent thinking has also turned to the fact that drivers circling car parks, has a number of impacts. These are now measured by mobility experts INRIX, for example, as ‘parking pain’ – made up from time wasted, fuel used, and carbon emitted. They found ‘Parking pain’ for the average driver in Germany as $1,556 dollars2.


It’s become big business too, with car park operators turning to smart system to maximize the earning power of a space. The European Parking Association estimates a turnover of €17 billion per year. But, of course, car park operator need accurate, current information to be able to make sound business decisions.


It’s not just drivers, then, who would like to see a simpler, smarter, and more efficient parking system.



Follow the light

Enter an intuitive system that uses lights and signage to automatically indicate when a space is free, and direct drivers to it.


Hikvision is a world leader in surveillance cameras, and this innovation has been repurposed to streamline the parking process. It’s not just about security any more - the Parking Management System uses Parking Guidance cameras to monitor spaces in real time. The cameras sit above the spaces and are designed to detect if a vehicle is parked in a space. A light on the camera changes color to indicate the status – usually green for free, red for occupied. Different colored lights can be programmed in too, to indicate different types of space - like a disabled spot, for example.



The cameras react quickly, updating the system immediately when the status of a space changes. This gives accurate directional information for drivers in the car park, and an accurate space count for screens outside. In fact, the accuracy rate of the parking place status information is ≥ 99.99%. A wide operating temperature range of -20°C to 50°C also means the cameras can be used in all kinds of climate.


The system is linked to screens at strategic points in the car park to further guide drivers. Of course, they are also linked to a system which shows the free space count, both inside the car park and at its entrance.


Drivers can easily see where to find the available spaces by following the signposting and lights, making it quicker, easier and safer.


The system also provides parking operators with valuable insights into how their car parks are being used. A powerful Hikvision VMS tool called HikCentral sits at the center of the solution, making it easy to keep an eye on the car park. It can provide a number of reports, like space occupancy statistics, helping to maximize efficiency and returns.


With the use of ANPR technology at the entrances and exits of a garage, the parking management system can also be used to streamline payments, help drivers find their car within the car park, and automatically open an entrance barrier if a vehicle is ‘registered’.



A cast of many

The integrated needs of car park ‘stakeholders’ – drivers, operators, investors, city planners etc – means an integrated approach to a solution is required. Hikvision works with convergence in mind at every level – including the various integration tools enabling third parties to bring software into the solution. This has led to partnerships with a number of leading parking specialists, like Parquery and Parking Detection. 


An important part of any integrated solution is support, including after care. Hikvision specialists are on hand to help installers put together a bespoke parking management solution, based on a set of options: ParkSmarter, ParkSmarter Plus and ParkSmarter Premium. Support is also available where needed after the solution is completed, giving both installer and parking operator peace of mind.


“We are proud of our reputation for providing comprehensive after care to our customers’, says Paul Yu, Presales engineer of Hikvision France. “This is an important keystone of our vertical solution strategy, and combined with our constantly developing relationships with parking specialists, we continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in a modern mobility environment.”


With mobility becoming a hot topic in city planning and parking operators looking to maximize the returns on their investment, the need for streamlined parking garages is clear. But at the end of the day, it’s the end users that will really see the benefit. They’ll be able to park directly with no fuss, and be on their way. The lights are literally at the end of the tunnel to bring them out of the ‘parking maze’.



Smart Parking: Transforming the Experience of Parking

2  New INRIX Study Finds Parking is the Largest Cost of Driving


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