Short Parking Stories
Six Trends That Will Define ‘Smart Cities’ in 2018
According to the website Smart Cities Dive, a new year tends to be a time for renewal in many aspects, with a particular focus on improvement. Whether resolutions involve kicking old habits or beginning a new activity, the changes usually all come back to advancement.
The same holds true in the “smart cities” space.
This time of a new year presents the opportunity to reflect on the trends that shaped cities during the previous year (to see, go to www.smartcitiesdive.com/news/a-look-back-at-the-top-trends-that-shaped-cities-in-2017/513347), while preparing for the next round of opportunities for evolution.
Some predicted city trends are fresh, intimidating concepts, while others are receiving renewed attention when examined in new contexts.
1. Equitable innovation
Extensive smart city plans place a renewed focus on inclusivity, particularly as it applies to the installation and distribution of “smart” projects. Cities are made up of diverse populations covering different socioeconomic statuses with each having different needs. Recognizing and embracing such differences can prevent divisive strategies that negatively impact a city, such as implementing innovations in only wealthy neighborhoods or installing technologies that don’t benefit the population at that location.
2. Electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure expansion
The electric vehicle industry has seemingly teetered on the edge of mainstream acceptance for decades. The EV concept became widely known in the US in the 1990s, but its popularity has waxed and waned since then. Interest has boomed again in recent years for a number of reasons, including better batteries and incentives or rebates for “green” vehicle ownership.
3. 5G (fifth generation) technology
Smart city technology is one niche area repeatedly mentioned as benefiting in a big way once 5G officially rolls out, which both Verizon and AT&T anticipate should happen — at the very least, in a limited form — late this year. The high-speed service is expected to better support the sensors in and communication between many Internet of Things (IoT) devices. It reportedly will help existing devices — such as public safety cameras — operate more smoothly and effectively while paving the way for efficiently introducing new ones, such as autonomous vehicles.
With the rapid growth in the use of “connected” devices, data and analytics comes additional concern about cyber-attacks. “Cybersecurity in the IoT is a multifaceted problem,” said Filip Ponulak, Principal Data Scientist at Site 1001, which provides AI-powered building operations. The cybersecurity challenges consumers face with their personal connected devices are different from those experienced by businesses or municipalities. A data breach at the city level, for instance, potentially could expose sensitive information about hundreds of thousands of people or cause widespread service outages.
Coinciding with a push for better cybersecurity is the use of so-called blockchain technology. Information shared via blockchain is considered more secure and resistant to alterations. Integrating blockchain into smart cities could better connect all city services while boosting security and transparency.
In 2017, a number of transit agencies called a truce, of sorts, with ride-hailing companies, which they previously viewed as competition to transit ridership. Transportation officials saw that the public had embraced the on-demand, flexible structure of ride-hailing services, and a handful are now experimenting with so-called microtransit partnerships.
SFMTA Upgrades SFpark to
According to the Government Technology website GovTech.com, the San Francisco MTA has transitioned its SFpark pilot into a citywide program to set rates on all 28,000 parking spaces on public streets and in 14 city-operated garages.
The plan prices parking based on demand — not unlike the approach used by airlines to set fares or ride-hailing apps to set the price of a trip.
“Demand-responsive pricing,” as the concept is known, means “prices could fluctuate block by block, time-band by time-band, and then weekday versus weekend,” said Hank Wilson, Parking Policy Manager for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA).
The dynamic pricing approach was a pilot program with SFpark between 2011 and 2013. The system used in-street sensors to monitor parking occupancy and then pricing was adjusted based on availability. Today, occupancy is based on historical studies of when parking meters are “paid.” Based on these data, prices are raised when occupancy is above 80% and lowered when below 60%.
(The sensors indicating whether a space was occupied during the pilot have reached the end of their useful life and have been turned off.)
The new approach to setting parking rates in San Francisco based on demand is not intended as an effort to raise parking revenue, officials stress. In fact, the new system will likely be revenue-neutral, because rates on many streets and in garages will likely drop. No meter has reached the $8-per-hour cap.
Ultimately the idea behind demand-based rates is rooted in the goal of getting drivers off the streets and into a space as quickly as possible.
San Francisco has a website that communicates pricing to smartphones. “There’s a real-time map that shows what the prices are at the time that you’re looking,” Wilson said.
Smart-Parking Solution Uses ‘Cryptocurrency’ Payment
According to the Smart2.Zero website, the “blockchain” platform company NetObjex Inc. has demonstrated a first-of-its-kind smart-parking payment solution using the IOTA decentralized network and “cryptocurrency.”
The company presented the solution late last year at the IOT Developer’s Workshop organized by Advantech, a leading manufacturer of Internet of Things LoRa solutions, in Santa Clara, CA. Also participating was the PNI Sensor Corp., “the world’s foremost expert in precision location, motion tracking, and fusion of sensor systems into real-world applications.”
The demonstration showcased the capability of vehicles to pay autonomously for parking through the integration of “crypto wallets.”
The solution used PNI’s PlacePod smart-parking sensors for accurate, real-time vehicle detention and location of available parking spaces. Communications between those sensors and “the cloud” leveraged Advantech’s LoRa solutions. Vehicle-to-parking-meter communications used the Bluetooth Low Energy technology with digital short-range communication versions planned in the future.
Completing this sophisticated architecture was the use of the IOTA decentralized network by the NetObjex platform as a distributed ledger for enabling device discovery, authentication, communication and transactions.
“Our goal in organizing the IoT Developer’s Forum is to engage the developer community in leading-edge solutions that exercise all of the capabilities of our M2.COM architecture and multi-protocol approach in enabling IoT solutions,” said Shawn Jack, Advantech Director of Sales & Embedded Ecosystems.
Raghu Bala, CEO of NetObjex, said, “The smart-parking solution is a practical demonstration of the NetObjex platform in bringing together state-of-the-art capabilities in the form of IoT sensor technology, LoRa communications, decentralized networks and cryptocurrency. Our partnership with Advantech, PNI and IOTA augurs exciting possibilities ahead.”