How technology is improving city congestion and parking

by Josh Biggs in Tech on 21st September 2020

We’re all aware of how much technology has come to change our lives over recent years. Our connected world in 2020 is unrecognizable to the days pre-internet. Technology is now entering every part of human existence, including shaping the way our roads and parking systems operate.

The importance of the IoT and AI

With the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), our cities and transport networks are becoming smarter. The Internet of Things essentially describes a system of connected devices able to communicate with each other over the internet. Using a blend of sensors and Artificial Intelligence (AI), these gadgets can relay information and make intelligent, data-based decisions. 

Any smart device that’s connected to the internet can be considered part of the Internet of Things. The strength of the IoT lies in the ability for these devices to operate autonomously – without the need for human input. 

The IoT is becoming interwoven with the fabric of life

Devices generating, relaying and interpreting data are about to transform human life as we know it. In recent years, there have been moves to integrate increasingly sophisticated sensors into everything from our homes to our cars and even the framework of our cities.

For example, using the IoT, sensors can be installed at traffic lights around a city to monitor the weight of traffic moving in a particular direction. If there is a predominance for traffic flowing one way, data can be sent to intelligent traffic lights to alter the flow cycle and reduce congestion. 

Primary forms of this data-gathering have been around for many years. For example, Google maps have long been able to predict traffic bottlenecks by aggregating data from cellphone GPS systems and comparing it to statistical data for how long a journey should take. 

If several handsets are all showing slow movement on a section of road, Google can make a fair estimate that the traffic must be heavy in that particular area. Also, coupling this information with data from the emergency services or user-generated reports allows Google to show where there’s been an accident. 

Less congested streets and smarter parking

Our roads aren’t the only place where the IoT is improving travel efficiency. Modern parking systems now make it possible to pre-book parking and avoids hunting around for a free space. 

Many modern car parks now regulate their service with a parking permit management system, to remove the risk of over-booking and can even guide you to your space. In the future, we can be expecting this technology will improve considerably – with cars parking themselves using a combination of IoT and self-driving AI systems in autos. Paying for parking can also be automated using cameras to read number plates and automatically bill the owner. 

Indeed, in many ‘smarter’ cities around the world, trials are already underway using sensors, cameras, travel data and AI to improve the way drivers find empty on-street parking spaces. 

The future of transport, the IoT and AI

Slowly but surely our entire lives are moving online with many traditional manual activities being replaced by automation and technology. In the cities of the future, we will likely make fully automated journeys, being driven to and from our destinations by smart cars, with zero human input required. 

Categories: Tech