Ethos and Oxford Brookes develop smart parking system

Ethos and Oxford Brookes develop smart parking system

Oxford gets smart parking through IoT
Oxford gets smart parking through IoT

A new IoT partnership between Ethos Future Cities Parking and Oxford Brookes University is bringing smart parking to the city.

How do you maximise the use of parking spaces in crowded cities? It’s one thing knowing that a parking space has become free, and quite another being able to predict when spaces will free up and makings sure people know where the spaces are. The latter is much more useful in terms of directing cars around a busy city, and ideally it needs to function across all possible parking spaces – not just those which are monitored by fixed sensors.

It is this challenge which is being met by a new smart parking partnership between Ethos Future Cities Parking and Oxford Brookes University.

Lucky meeting via Nominet

The two organisations met at an event organised by Nominet. The Oxford Smart Challenge was a coming together of thirteen teams with ideas on using technologies to improve Oxford.

Oxford Brookes University presented its system for real-time monitoring of the occupancy of roadside parking spaces using devices attached to public vehicles such as buses and taxis.

Ethos showed its parking sensors based system, which uses a linked open data system and machine learning to predict where parking spaces will be.

It’s about the synergies with smart parking

The two organisations quickly realised that there were important synergies between their two approaches. For example, fixed sensors work well in short stay parking areas, but vehicle based scanning of parking is good for longer stay parking areas. The two formed an alliance, and are now developing a mobile parking detection system.

Sensors mounted behind the bodywork of a vehicle can detect the presence or absence of a car at a specific location. If deployed across an area’s public utility vehicles a map of real time parking availability can be developed. Prediction maps will allow this data to be incorporated with sensed parking data. Finally, links to traffic management systems and customer routing allows a city to make the most of its parking spaces, nudging drivers towards less popular spaces and making the most of what’s available.

Ethos already has a sensor based demonstrator project in Guildford, Surrey based around a network of IoT sensors covering 5500 on and off street parking spaces. It will be evaluating the performance of the vehicle based system against those fixed sensors.

Martin de Heaver, CEO of Ethos Future Cities told Internet of Business: “The Oxford Brookes vehicle based sensor system works with the Ethos developed Cassandra pseudo parking sensor and machine learning based prediction platform. Cassandra takes data from non-fixed sensors of any type to build a training data set for an area of parking that does not have any fixed sensor infrastructure. Sensors include the Oxford Brookes sensor vehicle, but also from satellite images analysis and in the future mobile phone signature analysis and other crowd sources parking event detection systems.

“The concept here is to make non fixed sensors gathered data sets plus robust multi sensor correction/prediction checking, plus multi parameter adjustment (weather, events etc.) look like and perform almost as well as a fixed sensor network, but at much lower cost. This approach makes it possible to establish a UK wide system of real time parking space availability for the first time. The Ethos Future Parking Platform takes data from legacy car park counters, on street sensors and the Cassandra system to provide an increasingly country wide view.”