Could smart sensors help reduce congestion in the heart of London?
The City of Westminster, a local council for one of London's busiest areas, has begun embedding smart sensors into the streets. By the end of March, officials hope that 3,000 in total will be operation to help drivers find parking spaces.
The council says that drivers frequently cruise the streets and spend at least 15 minutes driving in circles looking for empty parking spaces, a common problem considering how congested London is. However, if drivers already know where empty spaces are, this could lead them straight to their destination -- and reduce the number of cars on the road.
The "smart parking" scheme involves sensors which detect when a parking space on the street lies empty. This data is then released to the public through a mobile device app, which allows drivers to find these spaces quicker.
Westminster, a hub for tourists and shopping, has 10,000 parking bays. The scheme, which will cost just over $1 million, will equip 3,000 of these with sensors, in the most heavily congested areas. If successful, the sensors will likely be installed in the remaining 7,000, and could result in less congestion and fuel consumption, and improve the economy by giving drivers more time to shop.
London is not the only city examining the applications of smart sensors. San Francisco has also experimented with smart parking, but has now turned off the sensors while the pilot program is under review.
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