Smart parking systems

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Smart parking systems are vehicle parking systems that help motorists locate, reserve and pay for parking, using advanced technologies. A smart parking system can provide real-time parking information to users, such as the available parking spaces and traffic conditions. Smart parking systems have been implemented in several cities to more efficiently use parking capacity. As an example, using sensors in parking meters to detect and provide space-specific availability information can help guide drivers to available spaces, reduce unnecessary trips to parking facilities that may be full and the length of trips associated with idling or circling for spaces. Some cities also make real-time parking data available over the internet via website or smartphone apps.


Specific Example

The City of Santa Monica California has installed new parking meters with sensors for heavily used parking facilities from 2011. The city has 41 parking lots and structures that provide related real-time parking availability and rates for users by interactive map and free smartphone app. Eighteen of these facilities located in downtown area. The smart parking system includes a navigation system to direct users to parking facilities, information of real-time parking availability at public parking facilities, and the parking rates. Santa Monica installs the sensors, resulting in less driving around looking for spaces, higher use of underutilized parking facilities and higher utilization of credit card.


Tradeoffs of implementing this policy may include:

  1. Increased cost of installation and maintenance relative to traditional parking system
  2. Budget constraints may prevent investments in establishing smart parking system with new technologies
  3. Difficulties in collecting accurate parking space availability data
  4. Information shared system would make commuters doubt their privacy affected
  5. Raised parking fees reduced ridership
Compatibility Assessment

If answered yes, the following questions indicate superior conditions under which the policy is more likely to be appropriate:

  1. Is there heavy traffic congestion?
  2. Does the parking demand exceed the available spaces?
  3. Is there a disparity issue in utilization across ramps?
  4. Do drivers frequently waste time driving around existing parking ramps that are already full?
  5. Is there a need to enhance the convenience of parking for transit trip?
  6. Does the city need to collect parking data to manage and improve the parking system?
  7. Are the tradeoffs cited above unlikely to be applicable in the given jurisdictional context?

The following questions should be considered when determining how to implement this policy:

  1. Which areas should implement smart parking system first?
  2. How to choose the parking facilities to develop as smart parking system? public or private owner?
  3. What levels of technology should be used for provide availability information?
  4. What forms of payment will be accepted? cash, credit cards, or phone?
  5. If any employees will be required to operate the smart parking system?


  • Has adoption of: Limited. Smart parking systems have operated limited in the United States. The system mainly implemented in a metropolis, instead of a small city. Within cities, the scale of smart parking systems hasn't covered the entire parking facilities.
  • For governance level(s): Local. Smart parking systems typically implemented and managed by local government.
  • For area type(s): Urban. Smart parking systems typically occur within the urban area, such as downtown area etc.
  • For issue type(s): Efficiency, Infrastructure. Smart parking system can reduce the uncertainty of parking location and availability, reduce the travel time of finding parking space, and improve the efficiency of using parking facilities. Besides that, the new technologies in parking can enhance the quality of parking infrastructure.




  • [1]. Bagula, A., Casrelli, L., & Zennaro, M. (2015). On the Design of Smart Parking Networks in the Smart Cities: An Optimal Sensor Placement Model . Sensors , 15443-15467.
  • [2]. Bayraktar, M. E., Arif, F., Ozen, H., & Tuxen, G. (2015). Smart Parking-Management System for Commercial Vehicle Parking at Public Rest Areas. Journal of Transportation Engineering , 141 (5), 04014094 - 4014109.
  • [3]. Geng, Y., & Cassandras, C. G. (2013). A new “Smart Parking” System Infrastructure and Implementation. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences , 1278-1287.
  • [4]. Rodier, C. J., & Shaheen, S. A. (2010). Transit-based smart parking: An evaluation of the San Francisco Bay area field test. Transportation Research Part C , 225-233.
  • [5] San Diego Smart Parking System: Concept of Operations. California PATH Research Report.
  • [6] Downtown Parking Management Strategy. Authored by the City of Saint Paul.
  • [7] Transportation Issue Brief: Smart Parking in Downtown DC. Authored by Downtown Washington DC.
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