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What is Smart Parking, and is it Safe?

  • Things To Know
  • Celine Jerly
  • 8 minutes

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It’s a smart world, and we’re just living in it! Our smartphones have brought everything “at your fingertips” or “in your palms.” Now it’s smart parking’s turn. 

Thinking of future megacities when you hear the term Smart Parking? Come back to the present because you could already be enjoying the benefits of advanced parking technology. If you’ve ever booked a spot online (say for an event) or used an app like Way nearby, it’s the growing technology that made it happen. Another example is automatic license-plate recognition for parking and permits. But smart parking systems are much more than prepaid spots and online reservations.   

Save up to 60% on parking near you with the Way app

Way.com + Passport: The Parking Partnership You’ve Been Waiting For

What is meant by smart parking? 

Human innovation and technology have joined hands to develop intelligent solutions for common parking problems. The result of these efforts is devices and systems that majorly help optimize space utilization and reduce parking time consumption. Denser, easier, and quicker parking benefits the service provider and the consumer. Smart parking can also play a significant role in streamlining a city’s parking regulations and space management.  

Essentially, smart parking uses sensor technology and IoT (Internet of Things) to: 

  • Collect real-time data and analyze it 
  • Estimate and manage parking space availability, traffic flow, and driving conditions 
  • Communicates the relevant information to users via smart devices 

Smart Parking and Intelligent Transportation share the same ecological principles. Combining the two brings advanced solutions for urban mobility and parking, eventually contributing to a cleaner environment. 

Smart parking systems are made up of various devices and processes. Most components act as parking space detectors embedded in the ground or positioned next to the spots. Their function is to detect whether the parking space is vacant or not.  

Commonly smart parking system components are: 

  • Ground sensors 
  • Camera-based detectors 
  • Counting sensors 
  • Hardware sensors and drivers 
  • Traffic control devices 
  • Dynamic messaging systems 
  • wireless/wired telecommunications systems 
  • computer clients and servers 
  • Application interfaces. 



  • Generally, sensors/detectors record and process data – these could be images or other details like license plate numbers.  
  • IoT connects these devices, and a cloud-based system centralizes the data.  
  • The system analyzes it to calculate parking space availability, traffic flow, payment status, etc.  
  • It uses a user interface like apps or websites to communicate relevant information. 
  • Apps might also use existing resources on your phone, like Google Maps, to update the information in real-time. For example, an increase in traffic or a parking spot opening as you get closer to it. 
  • Apps and websites can also share prices and amenities to help drivers compare parking options. 

What are the three types of smart parking? 

When it comes to tech, the opportunities are boundless. With digitization, it is increasingly easier to find solutions to most problems posed by parking in busy cities. Currently, three types of smart parking technology are popular. 

Ground Sensor Technology 

Not a newbie – it’s been around for decades and hasn’t changed much. Ground sensors are set in concrete at a parking spot or bay. When a car is parked above it, the sensor identifies it and registers the space as occupied.  

Smart Counter Technology 

You must be familiar with the gates at enclosed parking lots or garages. The counter technology raises it while dispensing the parking ticket and tracking the vehicles entering and exiting the parking structure. 

Overhead Sensor Technology 

It’s easier to view and sense vehicles from above at large parking facilities with heavy traffic volume. Sensors or camera-based technology are mounted above the gates to detect the cars that pass through them. The sensors cover multiple vehicles at a time to improve efficiency. 

Also see: Parking Sensors: A Helpful Tool to Master the Art of Parking


Where can smart parking be used? 

Smart parking technology can manage on-street parking and off-street lots/garages. Here are a few examples: 

  • Smart vehicle sensors, such as Lidar, dual channel loop detectors, ultrasonic sensors, etc., are used for vehicle detection and traffic control. 
  • Know how many vehicles are parked in a lot at any given time. With in-ground sensors, you can take stock of vacant/occupied spots and direct traffic accordingly. 
  • Struggling to find your parked car in a large garage? It won’t be a problem with smart parking – the tech can find the accurate location and guide you to the car via your phone. 
  • LED indicators signal to drivers whether a spot is vacant, which lowers distraction and improves safety while looking for a parking spot. 

Similar tech is also used for parking/traffic signage to improve safety and efficiency in coordinating pedestrian and vehicle flow. Real-time data and estimated traffic flow information help better manage traffic lights and pedestrian crossings.  

Why is smart parking important? 

Studies have found that over 30% of cars in cities are cruising for parking, and on average, it takes about eight minutes to find a spot. Smart parking technologies effectively solve this issue – for both street parking and off-street space management. If used well, it can have a significant impact on controlling traffic volume and gas emissions, in addition to helping drivers save time and fuel consumption.  

Coupled with intelligent transportation, smart parking is the way ahead to operational efficiency and the ecological benefits of simplifying urban traffic flow. From a parking authority/company perspective, smart tech and IoT facilitate better space management and seamlessly integrated payment processes. It can decrease management costs and increase the quality of service, and thus improve brand image and reliability.


Benefits for Cities: 

  • Lowers pollution: Fuel consumption and traffic congestion decrease when drivers do not cruise for parking, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and leading to a cleaner environment. 
  • Improves space utilization: With real-time data from sensors, it is easier to monitor and manage parking space availability and quickly guide drivers to vacant spots. Parking spots will remain empty for shorter periods. 
  • Enhances safety: Drivers are easily distracted while stressing over finding a parking spot. Smart parking eliminates the risk by guiding them to a vacant spot using on-ground sensors and live data collection. 
  • Analyze data: Smart parking systems can store the data collected. When needed, you can access it to make data-driven decisions or make predictions for a better understanding of traffic and parking trends.

Is smart parking safe? 

Smart Parking is no longer a concept or future technology. Parking systems worldwide have adopted devices/technology that increases efficiency and drive optimal results, and yes, it is safe. However, we can look forward to smart systems in the future that provide a seamless user experience – from analyzing your plans and activities to finding the ideal course of action and helping execute it effortlessly.  

Imagine this:  

You are home, getting ready to run a few errands and ask your AI Assistant device to check the traffic and find a parking spot near your destination. There are a couple of places to visit in the same neighborhood. You’d prefer to park the car at a nearby garage, off the street, and won’t mind a bit of walking. The AI analyzes the information, charts a plan, and finds the best parking deals. 

You have all the information you need before even getting in the car. The AI found the fastest route to your destination and a few options for parking. Now, you only need to pick and book a parking spot instantly using an app. Wait, the AI also found discounts and deals at stores/restaurants nearby! On your way, the smart app reroutes your car after detecting an accident ahead, and you still arrive at your destination on time.  

The smart parking system uses license plate recognition at the garage entrance and allows automatic entry – no tickets, no payments. The parking fee is prepaid online when you book the spot. Once you are in, the garage’s internal wayfinding system guides your car to the designated spot. And you are ready to shop, run your errands, and get a treat with the discounts the app found earlier. 

See: How Legit Is Way.com? Way.com Reviews and More! 

Smart parking and Intelligent Transportation guarantee an end-to-end solution for car owners – from planning to completing the intended task without hassle. This is no distant dream. Smart cities driven by IT infrastructure are closer to reality than ever and will eventually contribute to economic development and improve quality of life.

We’ve already achieved many of these tech advancements. For example, you need no longer drive around looking for cheap parking spots in a city. Super apps like Way eliminate the time-consuming parking spot hunt and also help save more with special rates and discounts on online reservations. 

See: How Parking Apps Work – All You Need to Know

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