Another step on the road to being a smart and green city for Birmingham

Eddie Fellows, Amey Network Manager, and Keith Stanley, Operations Director for the JQDT, with the Parker app

Spending valuable time and fuel driving around the city in search of a parking space could be a thing of the past if a new pilot parking scheme being launched this week is a success.

Amey, the company which maintains and manages the city’s roads in partnership with Birmingham City Council, has begun a ‘smart parking’ trial on selected streets in the Jewellery Quarter – just in time for the post-Christmas sales. The trial will be extended to selected streets in the Colmore Business District area, with several different technologies being used to evaluate the benefits for Birmingham motorists.

The trial involves embedding around 200 small sensors into the road where there are parking spaces. The sensors, which do not record any personal data about the car or driver – only the presence or absence of a vehicle – then send information back to a central system. This system is updated – depending on which technology is used – to enable users of a dedicated smartphone app or website to instantly see where there are parking spaces in the city.

According to research, it is estimated that 30 per cent of urban traffic is created by people looking for spaces, which in cities takes on average 15 minutes.

The aim of the trial is to determine whether the technology can help to reduce congestion in the city by improving the ease of finding an empty parking space for tourists, residents and businesses through use of the app or website.

Eddie Fellows, Amey Network Manager, said: “This trial will give us some indication of the ways in which these sensors can be used successfully, and what benefits they hold for Birmingham.

“Everyone has been in the position of finding themselves in an unfamiliar part of the city, not knowing where they might find a parking space and having to drive around in circles until they find one.  It is our belief and desire that by using the data collected from the sensors, drivers can cut the time they spend and the fuel they use looking for a space, as they will know where there are pockets of availability.”

It is also hoped that businesses will find ways of using the smart parking sensors – for example, an estate agents could check the app to inform people who are popping in to pick up keys whether and where there is a space nearby.

The trial has the backing of the Jewellery Quarter Development Trust (JQDT) – which represents businesses in the area – as well as the Colmore Business District and Retail Birmingham.

A parking sensor

Keith Stanley, operations director for JQDT, said: “Driving around looking for a parking space can be very frustrating. We believe the parking bay sensor initiative will help to ease some of the stress that city centre parking can create, to allow people to have a relaxing visit to the Quarter.”

The trial’s launch comes shortly after the City Council has launched its Smart Commission vision, to develop more ways of making the city a better place to live, work and visit.

Drivers will not have to change the way they drive or park. For more information and to download the free Parker app, the solution developed by Streetline and IBM, please visit www.theparkerapp.com or search for Parker.