What can sensors tell us about parking habits in MK?

Arrow picThe MK:Smart project team have deployed a limited number of sensors in Milton Keynes parking bays to help examine and map parking behaviours.

The aim of the investigation into parking sensors is to generate live data feeds that can be dynamically investigated and combined with other data sets to map and predict parking patterns in parts of the city. For example, understanding how weather, other transport services, and proximity to offices and shops can influence the amount of time a car is parked can help predict parking availability in a certain part of the city. Equally, this data can be used to inform the optimum parking duration for setting parking charge bands. This information will make better use of the city’s parking spaces, in the long term helping to direct drivers to places with availability that suit their needs.

Alan Ward

Alan Ward, BT – Image courtesy of Alan Ward

Graph of average parking stay

Average stay over a period – Image courtesy of BT

“The overall scheme is looking at how data and the Internet of Things is changing the way people will live and how councils and businesses will operate. This trial is one of many projects that will appear over the next three years. Up to 30% of the traffic in a typical city is cruising round looking for a parking space, so the ultimate aim is to encourage people to use these scarce resources more effectively. The technology uses sensors like large cats’ eyes positioned at each parking space, which monitor whether the space is occupied and for how long and whether a vehicle has exceeded its time limit.

Eventually we’d be able to inform people via their mobile devices of available parking spaces and enable the authorities to better understand how those spaces are being used. It could be extended to parking areas anywhere in the country. It helps to ensure a fair and reasonable use of a shared resource. This technology could ultimately enable you to buy your rail ticket in advance, plan your car journey to the station, book your parking space and plan your walk from your car to platform. I hope we can introduce this within the next few years.”
Alan Ward, Head of Corporate ICT Practice  for BT.

Currently using wifi data transfer, the project team aim to utilise the recently announced low powered Weightless network in MK to build a low cost data transfer infrastructure with additional sensors on the ground. This will deliver value for money and add to the sustainability of the initiative. The data will help inform the MK:Smart Motion Map and other projects such as the Low Carbon Urban Transport Zone.

“This is a perfect example of calling on the multiple initiatives that make up the MK Future City Programme to deliver real benefit to our citizens.” – Sarah Gonsalves, Head of Policy and Performance at Milton Keynes Council