The term "Internet of Things" has been going around a lot lately. After reading this article we started to wonder "Why isn't this more present in the Parking Industry?"
The answer: It is, and has been in many ways for several years. It happened so seamlessly that I hadn't even noticed.
The Internet of Things or IoT, is the networking of physical objects (devices, vehicles, buildings, etc.) with technology that allows them to collect and share information among themselves, often independent of human direction. I know that definition is a bit vague, but here's an example;
I have an Android smartphone. At around 6:30 in the morning, my phone knows that I'm about to leave for work so it will query the Google Maps service to give me an estimated travel time to the office. It does this because Google can tell when several of it's devices are moving along roadways, or if they are stopped indicating a traffic jam. This is a small and seemingly simple task but it saves me time every day and alerts me when I need to take a different route.
So how could those concepts be applied to the Parking & Transportation industry? There's virtually no limit to the proper applications. Already, we see Pay & Display and other on-street parking meters whose internal sensors will detect when the machine is low on paper and report it to the maintenance office. That software then plans out a route for the attendant before he heads out to refill machines and check system faults.
A company called Streetline has developed a system that tracks vehicle occupancy in real time and can direct residents and visitors to available parking without the hassle of driving around a busy city looking for an available spot. A system like this could also track which spaces are paid for and direct that information to enforcement personnel making the process of issuing violations significantly simpler.
No matter the industry or application, we can expect to see a lot more discussion about the Internet of Things and how it's making us smarter and more efficient at what we do. Do you have any ideas on how using networked devices could improve the parking & transportation industry?