Sustainable smart cities for the future

Ian Todd, EVP of Automated Parking at Westfalia Technologies explains the importance of automated parking tech in developing smart cities of the future

There are currently roughly 150 smart cities under way around the globe with highly ambitious environmental and livability goals. From full fibre connectivity to prioritising minimising carbon footprints, (more than 75% of global carbon emissions and energy consumptions are from cities) key decision makers must address smart city infrastructure with a realistic, community-based approach. 

Proven successful IoT technologies are in demand, and a crucial piece to that interconnectivity puzzle is automated parking. Given that more than 50% of the world's population currently inhabit urban areas and that number is expected to rise to 66% by 2050, smart city governments, privately owned housing units, and businesses need to consider parking in their overall architectural design plans. Because vehicles themselves are becoming more interconnected and powered by alternative energies like electricity, smart cities don't and won't mean the end of private car ownership.

Automated parking is an innovative solution in a variety of ways. Real estate developers in urban areas must find contemporary and reliable solutions to everyday issues, like parking vehicles. Property owners, developers, and architects can obtain a sensible and cost effective solution with an advanced automated parking system (APS). 

Here are some ways that automated parking will impact the future smart city:


The maximisation of urban green space

Sometimes expanding the footprint of a structure is not possible, whether it be too costly or simply geographically impossible. With an intelligently designed APS that utilises vertical storage in its designs, parking can extend up or down instead of contributing to urban creep through further development of green space. APSs enhance urban green space through their ability to park twice as many vehicles in the same amount of space as a conventional garage.  This ability to park more vehicles in a dramatically smaller footprint contributes to the smart city overall goals. Considering that there are roughly four parking spots for every car in the US, consolidating those spaces, whether they are mixed-use, residential, or commercial, is essential to enhancing urban green space. 


EV Charging: A must have for sustainable smart cities

Electric vehicles (EV) are the future of transportation. With major steps being taken to walk away from fossil fuels and turn reliance on clean, carbon neutral energy, parking infrastructure must include EV charging. The only difference in parking an EV in an APS versus a non-EV is that when the driver pulls into the transfer area, they need to plug the EV adapter into their vehicle and answer a few additional questions on the kiosk screen—such as estimated time of retrieval and desired charge percentage. After the vehicle is parked, the driver can monitor the charging status of their vehicle in real-time via a smartphone app. An expertly designed APS is able to charge more vehicles with less charging infrastructure thanks to the nature of cycling vehicles to be charged via automation. Offering EV charging stations is an absolute must for the future built environment of smart city infrastructure. 


Reliable and consistent technology

APSs are at the forefront of integrated IoT smart cities. With the ability to integrate with other IoT systems like payment stations, automated parking is a vital piece of the smart city puzzle.  For example, drivers are able to schedule the retrieval of their vehicles with a real-time countdown display on their smartphone of when their vehicle will be ready in the transfer cabin. 

An expert APS partner will highly emphasise the importance of reliability and redundancy of their systems and you should look for a vendor with availability ratings greater than 99%. Additionally, the right APS partner will test their equipment and develop software solutions all in-house, providing total control and understanding of the system.


Environmental sustainability

In addition to requiring a smaller footprint, APSs are a truly sustainable parking option. In densely populated areas, both noise and air pollution are serious concerns, both of which can be addressed by an APS. In fact, emissions are decreased by 80% with an APS compared to a conventional garage thanks to the elimination of cruising for a parking space. 

Conventional parking garages are one of the most likely settings for violent crime to occur. By completely eliminating public access to the garage, not only are vehicles protected from vandalism and burglaries, people are protected as well. Given that 20% of car accidents occur in parking garages annally, automated parking eliminates the issue. APSs provide positive impacts on surrounding communities through its environmental benefits and elimination of parking crime and accidents. 

The future of IoT connected smart city infrastructure requires robust and reliable parking. A customised APS offers a plethora of benefits to the urban environment, all while contributing to carbon neutral goals. With the trends of increasing urban populations and the consistent reliability of privately owned vehicles, automated parking is a must-have for the smart city. 


By Ian Todd, EVP of Automated Parking, Westfalia


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