Predictive technology takes pain out of parking

Newcastle has been become the first Australian city to trial a new predictive parking technology that has been adopted in cities across Europe including Stockholm, Copenhagen, Berlin, Rome, Milan and Barcelona.

The Find & Park smartphone app uses machine learning to guide motorists to locations in the Newcastle CBD where they are most likely to find an available parking spot.

Cr Declan Clausen

The app doesn’t guarantee a park will be available, but uses GPS technology to offer motorists a map with colour-coded options close to their destination indicating where it’s “easy”, “moderate” and “difficult” to find a place to leave their car.

“It’s working well and people are adopting it,” a spokesman for council told Government News.

The app is currently operating on the basis of information gathered during a six-month survey of the city but  its predictability will be refined and improved as more data is generated by users, Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen says.

“We’ve been working closely with the manufactures of the app they’ve done an intensive study of the city streets over a six week period to get an impression of what parking turnover in the inner city is like,” he said.

“We’ve been able to put together this model that predicts where car parks are likely to be available, but the best thing is that it gets better the more people use it.”

The Find & Park app uses machine learning to predict where motorists might find a park.

Cr Clausen compared the app to the green and red lights in shopping centre car parks.

“This is the equivalent version of that technology but for a public street,” he told ABC local news.

“ We’ve got some 3,000 car parks across public streets in Newcastle and we’re making sure that we’re able to give people an impression of where they’re most likely to be able to find a park.

“It certainly provides a good guide and prevents people from needing to drive around numerous streets.”

City of Newcastle hopes to extend the technology, which is currently only available in the CBD, to other parts of the LGA.

Cr Clausen says the technology, officially launched this week, will ease congestion and allow motorists to make better informed parking decisions.

He says about a third of traffic in European cities is caused by people looking for parking.

Park & Find is an extension to the the EasyPark app, which is currently in operation in Newcastle and allows users to pay for parking and top up for additional time on their phone.

The app has now become more widely used to pay for parking than cash with City of Newcastle last month recording 45,517 EasyPark transitions.

The spokesman said the introduction of smart parking technology is part of council’s four-year Smart City Strategy, which also saw the delivery this month of Newcastle’s first driverless bus.

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