It’s common experience to drive around in search of a free parking and think our City should have more spots to accommodate everyone. But have you ever thought how large parking facilities are in your municipality?

Publicly available data show that in the United States existing car parks cover all together an area as big as Connecticut, while in Italy they account for about 1 thousand square Km, that means about five times the City of Milan. In Singapore, 5.6 million inhabitants have 1.3 million car lots, two times the number of registered private vehicles. So, why can’t we find a parking when we need it?

The truth is, on average cars sit parked for up to 95% of the time, and this is one of the reasons why the number of available facilities seems unsatisfactory. Looking for possible sustainable solutions, the MIT Senseable City Lab quantified parking demand in contemporary urban conglomerates.

Considering a City where car sharing services are in place, researchers found that as much as 86% of current parking spaces can be freed up if a complete switch occurs from private cars to shared mobility. Since shared cars generate some additional traffic due to vehicles relocating or cruising, the study suggests a more reasonable 57% reduction of parking facilities to bear only 1.3% increase in congestion.

However, MIT estimates should be adjusted to consider the impact of pandemic, that is expected to have longer-lasting effects on some forms of urban mobility. Personal vehicles are nowadays perceived as safer than public transportation or shared mobility: while demand for e-scooters and micro mobility systems is rocketing, we might expect an increase of private cars registrations in the near future.

Nevertheless, the idea of having less but better managed car parks is intriguing. Based on IoT standards and an open data models, PE Smart Urban Network allows Cities to remotely monitor and control existing facilities, collecting and taking advantage of a full range of parking-related data, such as the number of available lots in a specific area, or the duration of each parking.

By seamlessly integrating the solution with mobile apps, variable message panels, and traffic guidance systems to route drivers to the nearest available spot, data enable a smarter management of car parks and increase average usage rates, making parking search easier and quicker, while decreasing congestion and air pollution.

What shall Cities do with unnecessary parking areas? Car spots could be repurposed to support emerging urban mobility models, including e-vehicles charging stations, e-scooters lots, loading and unloading areas for commercial vehicles, and more. PE Smart Urban Network is ready to back this evolution up.