Parking guidance and information

Parking guidance and information

Parking guidance and information (PGI) systems, or car park guidance systems, present drivers with dynamic information on parking within controlled areas. The systems combine traffic monitoring, communication, processing and variable-message sign technologies to provide the service. PGI systems are a product of the worldwide initiative for the development of intelligent transport systems in urban areas. PGI systems can assist in the development of safe, efficient and environmentally friendly transportation network .

PGI systems are designed to aid the in the search for vacant parking spaces by directing drivers to car parks where occupancy levels are low. The objective is to reduce search time, which in turn reduces congestion on the surrounding roads for other traffic with related benefits to air pollution with the ultimate aim of enhancement of the urban area.

Reported benefits

Parking guidance and information can improve network efficiency significantly, reported benefits include:

  • Time spent searching for a parking space is reduced
  • Drivers’ parking destinations are influenced
  • Efficient use of off-street parking, thus improving accessibility to short-stay on-street parking
  • Changes in pollutant emissions due to PGI are most closely related to changes in overall travel time, for example, annual pollutant emissions are reported to have been reduced due to a PGI system in Munich
  • Reduced searching can result in some reductions in accidents due to happier drivers.
  • Improved parking information raises the public image of the area, which in turn can lead to improved revenue generation within that area.

System design

A Parking Guidance and Information system has four essential elements:

  • Vehicle monitoring
  • Communication
  • Instation control system & Graphical User Interface (GUI)
  • Variable-message sign (VMS)or Numerical Message Sign (NMS)

There are several levels of Parking Guidance:-

1. Facility & Level Counting - Monitoring equipment must be installed at parking areas to establish the flow into and out of the car parks in order to calculate the number of available spaces. Vehicles entering and exiting car parks are often monitored through activation of existing barrier equipment, infrared, radar detector, underground inductive loop or overhead detectcion devices. Real-time vehicle counts within car parks are held on count-stations or out-stations made up of firmware capable of handling the count data.

2. Zone Counting - breaking each Level into Zones further enhances the accuracy of the counting and provides the additional benefit of being able to direct vehicles into Zones within a Level.

3. Individual Space Monitoring - Every parking space is fitted with a sensor which detects the presence of a vehicle. This status can then be relayed to a visual indication of the status of the space (usually Green -> Vacant and Red -> Occupied).

4. Complete Solution - combining all of the above then provides a complete solution.

Car park count data are transmitted back to a central location or in-station, and processed through PGI software on a standard PC . PGI software is often capable of producing occupancy statistic and flow rates for traffic analysis. Variable-message signs are located at suitable decision points on the network present the information, so that a driver’s journey time to a vacant space is minimised. VMS generally show the number of vacant spaces or information such as “Spaces”, “Full” and “Closed”. Car parks are often grouped into zones to reduce the information that has to be presented on a single sign.

Communication systems between out-station and in-station, and then in-station to VMS also required. Systems can be hard-wired, however, for city wide projects wireless communication including GPRS may be suitable.

Importance of integrated systems

Integrated systems allow the user to exchange information between applications more easily avoiding duplication and potentially reducing communication costs. The UTMC Specifications offer a means of achieving integration efficiently, while allowing the adoption of the latest technological developments.

Alternative applications

Multi-storey car parks

As well as city-wide applications, PGI systems can also be used for internal multi-storey car park applications with entrance signs and level-by level signs.

Protective parking schemes

Parking Guidance and Information Systems have been used within protective parking schemes. These schemes are designed to minimise disruption and discourage visitors driving to major events in residential areas. Under such schemes, only eligible residents, their visitors and local businesses would be able to hold Event Day Permits, allowing them to park in the roads in the Event Day Zone when major sporting or music events are held. One such scheme is now employed by Brent Council at Wembley Stadium. This means any visitors driving to events at Wembley Stadium without a pre-booked parking space, will not be able to park in the surrounding streets . A Parking Information System consisting of VMS and a control in-station is used to inform residents and visitors alike of the Event Days when parking restrictions apply.


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