The illegal car parking situation in India requires a conscious effort towards improving the situation not only on part of the citizens but also from the enforcement bodies. This means at the very minimum, identifying and acknowledging the problem as a prevailing menace. As part of the Amritsar Automated Illegal Parking Management project, SenRa’s first steps were to educate the city officials about how the problem of illegal car parking can be solved using smart technology. The second step was to demonstrate the solution after having city official buy-in.
SCCI partner, SenRa deployed 6 LoRaWAN enabled smart parking sensors, LoRaWAN network for connectivity, and streamed the data to their IoT analytics platform and mobile application, providing the city with an end-to-end smart parking solution.
With all the challenges present in India’s traffic and parking management, SenRa felt this solution could solve problems and have an amazing return on investment (ROI) for the city. After two months of data collection, SenRa has been able to determine the ROI is approximately 10 times the cost of the actual solution.
This proof of concept was conducted in Amritsar, a city located in the northern part of India. The city selected six sites where they requested to install LoRaWAN enabled Smart Parking Sensors. Based on the site locations provided, a survey was conducted of the area to determine where the LoRaWAN network infrastructure would be deployed to provide reliable, stable connectivity. Things that were looked at included accessibility of the site, power availability, backhaul capabilities, elevation above sea-level and ground-level obstructions and a clear line of site. Two sites were selected for this network deployment.
Based on elevation above ground, gateways being deployed, and other factors mentioned above, a green field planning of the LoRaWAN RF propagation was done. Since the devices were installed in the ground, there was a significant risk of interference and loss of signal due to a significant obstruction from the ground and nearby concrete inside the Fresnel zone. Therefore, the antenna polarization for both gateway and end devices was oriented vertically to ensure optimal reception. Also, a site survey was performed to verify the RF signal did not exceed -90dBm when no vehicle was parked on top of the parking sensors.
Smart Parking Sensor - Device Selection
After careful evaluation of Parking sensor vendors, a suitable OEM was chosen as the preferred supplier for the devices to solve the most mission-critical aspects of parking management: accurate and real-time vehicle detection. The sensor uses very accurate magnetic sensing system and sophisticated vehicle detection algorithms that accurately detect the presence or absence of a car in a given parking space even in dense urban environments which are typically prone to magnetic interference. The device includes a built-in LoRa radio that communicates to a SenRa gateway with complete adherence to LoRaWAN technical and regional specifications.
One of the most important criteria for device selection was the ability to be installed, deploy and forget scenario. This means the device should have ultra-low power consumption and several years of battery life. It is ensured by the LoRaWAN MAC protocol and the device software algorithms that the device can deliver up to 10 years of battery life, and is stable over temperature fluctuations, even in harsh environments.
The illegal parking spots allocated to SenRa by Amritsar Smart City were located on the main streets which are in parallel to the traffic flow. Prior to installation each sensor’s unique serial number was recorded and mapped to the location of installation. This is especially useful for individual parking space monitoring as well as trouble-shooting sensor performance and communication. The devices were then sealed and covered entirely with epoxy inside secure PVC casing to protect them against moisture and dust ingress
Around 4.5-inch diameter holes were drilled in the ground and the debris was removed. Next, a layer of sand with cement was used to level the bed to ensure a flat surface for devices. The sensors covered in epoxy and PVC casing was then inserted into the hole such that the top of the sensor sat 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch below the surface of the asphalt. After installation, a BLE device was used to activate the LoRaWAN module incorporated in the smart sensor, which in turn registered the device(s) successfully to the network.
Data analytics and post-processing
As part of the proof of concept (PoC), SenRa used its own IoT analytics platform to collect the sensor data and provide real-time results and processing of the data. SenRa also developed a mobile application which was given to the parking enforcement officials to inform them in real-time when a driver had parked illegally over the installed sensors. After several months of development for this specific use case, SenRa was able to create an intelligent interface that shows, in real-time, various parameters such as
• Occupied and vacant status of individual parking lots
• Illegal car parked status
• Overall average occupancy
• Daily and hourly parking activity • Historical data – both monthly and weekly
• Popular parking times
• Individual device monitoring
• Individual device status history
In retrospect, through the course of this PoC, the integrated application server/platform has been able to provide the city with information which had never been available prior to this deployment. The city was now able to see, in a transparent fashion, the non-generated revenue which could have been collected from issued tickets (“Challans”) for cars which parked illegally in the no parking zones. As an additional benefit, this also helped curb the problem of corruption and lawlessness in the city. Leveraging cloud computing, artificial intelligence, complicated algorithms, and big data processing, then SenRa were able to demonstrate several data sets which helped the city improve the parking management as well as enforcement. To ensure the traffic enforcement could be implemented efficiently, SenRa’s mobile application was installed on the local law enforcement’s Android phones to provide them with real-time notifications of the illegal parking at the aforementioned sites. The mobile app gave immediate notifications when a vehicle parked over the sensors and allowed the appropriate authorities to take swift action to clear up the no parking zone to include issuing parking tickets or Challans if required.
With a rapid rise in the number of motorized vehicles in Indian urban settlements, one can easily see an impending parking space crunch and insatiable parking demands. While the government bodies are becoming more and more aware of this issue, little has been done to incorporate smart solutions that can actually make a difference. With the ongoing efforts of this PoC, cities are now realizing that smarter parking solutions can be successfully implemented when leveraging cutting edge technology and in-house expertise from vertical experts. Smart Parking Management solutions would be able to identify and penalize illegal car parking, introduce variable pricing, ensure unhindered lanes for passage of emergency vehicles as well as enable overall street improvement for all road users.
Through this PoC, SenRa has enabled the city authorities to realize revenues never seen before. In addition, it has given a highly competent tool to the enforcement agencies that, if used properly, can completely curb the menace of illegal car parking and reduce traffic congestion in future smart cities.