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How to select the right parking sensor supplier?

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Nedap has noticed over the past few years that in different regions of the world new companies have come to market that offer wireless sensors that can be used for parking detection and utilized for guidance, reporting and other types of functionality. Some of these systems resemble our SENSIT platform, while others are trying to market products that have different design characteristics. 

We fully embrace this development and truly believe that the entry of new competitors in this particular market place is actually adding weight to the industry and it proves the fact that this market is finally emerging. Although the SENSIT platform originates from 2006, we have noticed over the past few years that widespread acceptance of wireless sensing networks has only started to occur fairly recently. The concept of smart cities with increased mobility is gaining momentum all over the world and is most certainly adding to the willingness of city administrations to deploy new technological concepts. Current global developments will only strengthen this trend: more and more people are concentrated in large cities that consequently will have difficulties to facilitate their inhabitants to move around in a convenient and secure way. A large percentage of city traffic consists of stressed drivers that are desperately trying to find a safe, well situated and affordable parking bay.

This insight highlights a few things we think you should look for in parties that offer you a wireless parking sensor network based solution, such as:

  • Experience and attitude
  • Access to open parking data
  • Willing to achieve smart mobility ambitions
  • R&D and manufacturing capability
  • Business continuity
  • The right people to work with

Providing better public service, reducing car emissions and pollution, improve city visitor experience, increase parking utilization, prevent unnecessary capital investments, more efficient and effective parking enforcement: a lot is to be gained by cities and other parking operators with the on street implementation of wireless parking sensor networks and guiding systems.

It is also imperative that with the dawning of a new era of on street parking management new experiences and insights need to be incorporated into the collective consciousness of our industry. There is a lot to be learned in the course of the coming years while we implement new systems, ideas and policies. One thing that we have learned already is that installing and operating a wireless sensor network for parking detection, guidance and management is not a stroll in the park. It takes more than just having a functional sensor  to turn projects into a success. Here are a few things we think you should look for in parties that offer you a wireless parking sensor network based solution:

1) Experience & attitude

The biggest challenge when developing a wireless sensor network basically is not just providing an accurate sensor. It really is much more about having a robust and stable wireless network consisting of sensors that keep operating in a variety of environments and conditions using a battery. It takes project experience to take your platform of products to the next level. It takes years of experience and an attitude that supports a willingness to learn from those experiences. Our advise would be to avoid those types of companies that only seem to be looking for short term profits and are represented by know-it-all types of people that are not open to collaborate and are not open to criticism.  No manufacturer or vendor in this industry today has seen it all and knows it all. We are still in the process of building an industry.

2) Access to parking data

Cities and operators that invest in wireless parking sensor networks basically invest in a platform to support urban mobility. The core of this platform is the data that is provided by the sensors: What is that status of a particular bay? What is the utilization level in that zone? What is the expected utilization trend? What is the impact of pricing? We believe that cities should own this data and have unlimited access to it. It will enable parties involved to build applications on top of it that will actually benefit the inhabitants and visitors of the city and also the city itself. We would advise against collaboration with vendors that try to hold the data hostage using licensing models that really do not serve the interest of cities and parking operators.

3) Best of breed combinations

Vendors that supply wireless sensor networks usually are electronics manufacturers with limited experience in traffic management and mobility themes. Realizing mobility objectives is very much about bringing together several systems and concepts that have long been isolated from each other: parking management, parking route information systems (PRIS), guidance systems, traffic management systems, parking enforcement systems: we would advise to look for parties that are willing to work in conjunction with other parties, that are (willing to be) part of a consortium of companies that work together in addressing smart mobility ambitions.

4) Vendors with R&D and manufacturing capability

Successfully developing a wireless parking management platform takes time and effort. Although we believe we have a robust and solid product, we continue to develop our systems because we believe we can still learn from every project and client that we deal with in this ever changing world. We can only take this approach because we employ our own RF and electronics engineers, our own mechanical engineers and our own software developers and also our own production staff that has access to modern manufacturing facilities so each innovation can rapidly be incorporated into our products. We believe this to be an asset which should not be underestimated.

5) Business continuity

The number of smart mobility projects is, although rapidly growing, still fairly limited. A lot of new entrants in this market consist of small startup firms with limited resources. Most smart mobility projects will take years to be fully implemented and will require years of unconditional support. We would advise to look for partners that are able to offer a sufficient level of business continuity to be able to support you and work with you not just today, but especially in the years ahead of us. A shake out within this industry is bound to happen and it would make sense to team up with those companies that have the means to endure and remain in business.

6) The right people

In the end it all is people working together with the right people to be enable success. Addressing mobility themes involves implementing advanced ideas, policies, concepts and systems in an challenging and dynamic environment. It involves the commitment and effort from people that are straightforward in their ambition to meet objectives but that are also pleasant to work with and that are empathic to political sensitivities and public debate. Finding the right system is one thing, finding the right people to work with is another thing.

We do wish you all the best in your quest for means to turn the smart mobility ambition into reality.