Anyone who drives in a town or city has probably experienced the frustration of cruising the streets in search of that elusive car parking space. It’s time-consuming and irritating for the motorist, and harmful to the local economy and environment. Unnecessary journeys like these cause traffic congestion and delays, use more energy, and increase pollution levels. And if we don’t address the problem now, it could get much worse. It’s estimated that the number of motor vehicles in the world will double to over two billion by 2035, and by then 60% or more of the global population will be living in urban environments.
Abaco SmartCities is taking the lead in tackling the issue by transforming the parking experience in over 80 Italian towns and cities from Puglia to the Alps. The leading public sector services provider is applying intelligent technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and advanced analytics to help drivers find parking spaces quickly, safely, and with the least possible energy consumption.
“Italian society is changing rapidly, and the digitalization of public services over the next couple of years is essential so that citizens can act more independently,’ explains Dr Giuliano Rorato, Information Systems Manager, Abaco S.p.A. “One important area is urban mobility, where citizens expect a convenient digital experience an efficient service that respects the local environment.”
Of course, there is no single solution that fits all requirements. Towns and cities are vibrant, living entities that are constantly evolving and changing. Each has its own unique characteristics and traffic patterns. “Flexibility is vital,” Dr Rorato continues. “Our goal is to create a single, scalable platform for authorities and citizens that provides a single point of access to a growing choice of integrated digital services.”
SAP was selected to provide the foundational technology. “We needed innovative products, and SAP is always evolving,” says Dr Rorato. Abaco SmartCities is working with local SAP partner BIT to build this new platform, based on SAP Cloud Platform and the SAP Analytics Cloud solution and due to go live in early 2020. “We have huge volumes of data generated by thousands of sensors, parking meters, video cameras and barrier systems,” he continues. “This is all sent to the platform for analysis using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics. The data then populates a dashboard with all the KPIs required for the authority to manage its parking systems more effectively. In addition, the dashboard allows the Abaco SmartCities division to promptly intervene if there are any anomalies on the installations.”
More efficient car parking benefits all parties. Individual citizens can find the nearest available parking space and pay for it in seconds using their smartphones. Local authorities can improve urban mobility, ease congestion, and increase revenues that can be redeployed to deliver new and improved services.
But perhaps most important are the long-term environmental benefits for the whole community. “Italy is the first country to make climate change lessons compulsory for all children,” says Dr Rorato. “It’s essential that we continue to leverage new technologies to help deliver a sustainable future for them – and car parking is just the start.”