Basic building blocks
To make this vision work, certain technologies need to be in place to enable smart streetside parking.
The first of which is a networking layer, which comes in the form of 5G technology as it can bring extremely low latency, greater capacity, and increased speeds. This means that large amounts of data can be collected and transmitted over shorter time periods.
Next up are the devices that make them work. The Internet of Things (IoT) revolution means that many low-cost sensors or devices can be directly integrated to the Internet, making instant communication through the web possible.
These devices are either short or long range sensors. The former includes magnetic, ultrasonic sensors and infrared sensors. Due to their relatively lower cost, these can be embedded in the ground where public parking spaces are or suspended above vehicles.
Long range sensors include those that can cover large areas and are able to distinguish vehicles from non-vehicles. These include high-definition (HD) cameras, radars and LiDARs (Light Detection And Ranging). Typically they are mounted on high vantage points and integrated with computer vision analytics software paired with detection algorithms.
Both types of sensors can be fitted with GPS trackers and IoT edge devices, allowing them to connect to the Internet and accurately report their locations and the status of streetside parking space occupancy.
Underpinning all these is the development of machine learning and artificial intelligence. These technologies mean that applications can outperform and replace humans, resulting in more efficient and “always on” capabilities. Connecting this system to the smartphone, which gives consumers access to the Internet at all times.
The nexus of these technologies allow a platform which can connect all Internet-enabled devices together, interact with cloud infrastructure in a real-time manner and build databases that can be analysed automatically using machine intelligence.
What’s the situation in Malaysia?
While ubiquitous streetside parking detection is still a ways off, municipalities in Malaysia have implemented some basic smart streetside parking solutions.
The most common solution right now is the ability to pay municipal parking fees on a smartphone app. Most state municipal councils, such as in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor Bahru, Malacca and Penang, have implemented smart parking apps to allow users to pay parking fees by e-wallets or by credit cards.
Some apps such as FlexiParking and Selangor Smart Parking have also been deployed, giving users alerts when the parking time is about to expire and comes with the ability to settle summonses or compounds directly through the app. Meanwhile, MCash and Touch ‘n Go are e-wallet platforms that support municipal parking payments.
As for parking detection sensors, Penang Smart Parking administered by the Penang State Government, has installed 36,000 IoT-enabled smart parking sensors on public streetside parking for reporting parking availability.
Next steps for Malaysia
Malaysia needs to embrace radical changes in the way it approaches transit challenges. Severe traffic congestion, urban sprawl, the lack of first/last mile connectivity, and public transportation breakdowns, severe parking challenges, as well as natural disasters such as flash floods necessitate a paradigm shift.
The key to this is to harness data from the vast variety of transit systems and use this data to engineer better solutions for both transit and parking.
At Asia Mobiliti, we are doing just that. We strive to use data more intelligently as exemplified by a research and development (R&D) joint project with Monash University Malaysia to develop a solution using LiDAR sensors.
A single LiDAR sensor can detect a wide range of vehicles and when coupled with connectivity to the Internet, the solution can harness the data that includes parking availability, wayfinding, duration spent by the car. Connect this to a web-based architecture and we can enable the smart parking vision explained in this article.
Coupled with our other mobility solutions, such as Demand-Responsive Transit, we will be able to offer seamless journeys for drivers and encourage multimodal transit in our daily commute.