An IoT-based smart parking system saves time and money

November 21, 2017

An IoT-based smart parking system saves time and money

The smart parking system is helping cities, hotels, airports, movie theatres, commercial complexes, and shopping centers optimize vehicle parking in real time.

The IoT plays a crucial role in connecting devices to the network, enabling people to accomplish their tasks efficiently and cost-effectively. An increasing number of smart cities are using IoT applications to overcome common issues, such as limited parking, increased traffic jams, and pollution. The smart parking system is helping cities, hotels, airports, movie theatres, commercial complexes, and shopping centers optimize vehicle parking in real time.

Here are six ways in which IoT-based parking systems help users save their time and money:

1. They optimize resource use

Finding a parking space in a city can be frustrating. According to a recent article, American drivers spend nearly 17 hours a year seeking parking spots. This search wastes precious resources, including time and fuel, amounting to a cost of almost $345 per driver. Moreover, drivers looking for open parking spaces cause the traffic to slow down, leading to traffic congestion in cities.

The smart parking system can easily be designed using IoT-compatible hardware, namely Raspberry Pi and Arduino boards. The system integrates and automates tasks such as parking fee payment, vacant space identification, and notification of a vehicle’s location and time, enhancing the driver’s parking experience and easing traffic jams.

For instance, a user can book a parking slot in advance using his/her mobile phone app and pay the fee using an ATM server. Here, the IoT database offers information parking availability and reserves the space. When the user arrives at the location, a license-plate recognition system identifies the user and allows access into the assigned space.


Infrared, passive infrared, and ultrasonic sensors detect the vehicle’s presence and determine whether a spot is vacant or occupied, enabling the driver to locate the best available spot for his vehicle. Consequently, the parking areas in commercial buildings and malls fill up efficiently, saving the time and the effort involved in looking for a parking space.

2. They reduce air pollution

A recent survey found that over 30% of a city’s traffic congestion is due to cars looking for parking slots. This inefficiency increases fuel consumption and carbon emissions, causing economic and environmental concerns. Owing to the lack of space in overcrowded cities, the administration is finding it tough to build more parking areas. With the increasing applications of IoT, cities are looking to implement smart parking systems that will help them manage their parking space inventory and ease the traffic congestion and pollution. IoT-based parking lets drivers register and login to the car-parking app, helping them park with ease.

3. They reduce unauthorized parking lot access

The smart parking system uses RFID technology to identify the user and access her information. Thus, each time the user logs in, her name, address, license plate number, and parking history is recorded and can be searched on the central database, preventing duplicate and/or unauthorized entries.

For instance, if a car checks-in without an RFID notification, it won’t be able to check-out of the parking lot. Since this data is saved in the central database, the vehicle won’t be able to park in any other parking area in the city. Consequently, smart parking helps in curbing unauthorized parking space use.

4. They provide real-time traffic data

The Cloud acts as a central database for the smart parking system, storing the information related to the space and the user. The MQTT server is an ISO-standard protocol designed to connect physical devices (sensors, cameras, actuators, mobile phones, tablets, and desktops) to servers. Data stored on these servers provides lot owners with real-time insights on traffic and parking trends and correlations.

These trends can help improve the users’ parking experience and revise their pricing strategy. For instance, by analyzing the captured data, city officials and lot owners can introduce dynamic pricing, enabling them to increase or decrease parking fees based on the day or time. This will not only increase revenue for the officials, but also reduce traffic congestion caused due to a popular.

The insights received can also be used by smart parking providers to make adjustments in policies, enabling them to achieve their stated goals. For instance:

  • The necessary amount of space can be designated to the vehicles depending on their size. Parking spaces can be reserved for users with special needs, such as priority parking for expectant mothers, seniors, and disabled individuals.
  • Incentives can be offered to attract users to the low-demand areas, reducing traffic congestion.
  • A shorter time limit can be imposed in high-demand areas, enabling lot owners to increase their turnover and encourage vehicle owners to vacate the area after accomplishing their tasks.

5. They enhance brand image

By offering a seamless parking experience, a commercial entity, airport, or corporate firm can significantly improve its brand image. The cutting-edge IoT technology used in smart parking systems eliminates the traditional parking meters and coin machines, enabling visitors to book their slots from a remote location with their mobile phones.

Moreover, by analyzing user trends, a firm can further enhance its image and introduce a tiered payment and/or a reward program in the existing system, attracting repeat users. Therefore, the smart parking system makes the parking experience easy and enjoyable, boosting brand image and profits.

6. They reduce operational costs

Increased application of technology and automation means less manual activity and reduced operational costs. The sensors and cameras installed in a smart parking system can cover a wide area and offer data on the vacant slots within seconds. Moreover, the system lets users to pay parking fees automatically, eliminating the costs associated with issuance and collection of parking tickets and/or maintaining parking meters.

Ann Neal is a freelance writer who covers technology, trends, and business.