Innovative parking management piloted by a Finnish technology concept

The P-Innovations research project lead by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is piloting automatic vehicle recognition and dynamic guidance in a parking structure.
This innovative parking concept takes place in the city of Tampere. The concept, which utilises RFID remote identification and optical license plate recognition, enables floor specific vehicle amount calculation and vehicle-specific parking guidance. This is the first European parking application that uses passive long-range RFID remote identification for vehicle identification.

VTT and six Finnish companies are together piloting innovative technological and service concepts in the parking structure located in downtown Tampere. The project tests and compares the applicability of UHF RFID identification and optical registration plate recognition for automatic vehicle identification using fifty pilot users. In addition, the project is researching the use of variable signals, both signposts and audible signals for situation sensitive guidance and notification in parking structures. The experiment, which started in late April, will continue until the end of the year 2007.

The objective of the project is to identify products and technologies in the portfolios of the involved companies that can be combined to generate new and feasible concepts for parking management. Through development of these concepts the aim is also to generate new business between the involved companies and improve their market position. The plan is to offer parking customers improved services by alleviating the parking experience and supplementing the signalling.

For the pilot project, floor-specific vehicle monitoring and passage monitoring for contract customers for comparison was implemented using both passive RFID identification and registration plate recognition. In addition, guidance for the automatic cashier used to pay for the parking was implemented using smart speakers that react to a presence and an FM radio channel that is limited to the inside of the parking structure was installed. The radio channel can be used to distribute notifications related to parking and, in practice, advertising time for local entrepreneurs could be sold.

In past years Finland has shifted increasingly towards a professional service business in the management of public parking, which includes expansive utilisation of technology, high-quality customer service and efficient business operations. The customer is offered wider service entities where parking is part of a service chain. In the past few years technologies that automate different stages of parking have been actively sought to make parking management and the actual parking experience easier.

There is an increasing need for parking spaces and competition is tightening. Parking companies are seeking ways to manage their operations more efficiently and professionally. The targets are lower costs, faster information flow, automation, safety and an increased offering of auxiliary services. Better service also includes flexible pricing whose enabling concepts include, for instance, the automatic identification of vehicles and dynamic signalling that are being piloted.
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