The Netherlands gets its first smart parking system

| July 19, 2013

Zoetermeer, the third largest city in the South Holland province of The Netherlands, becomes the country’s first to install a smart parking system as workers begin embedding the round, wireless parking sensors into each parking space in the city’s center.

Once embedded, the sensors work by detecting a vehicle’s presence, information it then sends to a central server. That real-time data is then shown on electronic displays along access roads to Zoetermeer’s city center, letting motorists know where spaces are taken and where they’re free. The information can also be accessed via smartphone apps and in-car navigation systems.

Rooftops of Zoetermeer

The 120,000-odd residents of Zoetermeer – just outside the Hague – are about to get the Netherlands’s first smart parking system. From Flickr’s facemepls.

Zoetermeer’s initiative responds to a nationwide request from the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment to make parking data publicly available. By telling drivers where they might find parking, policymakers hope to alleviate the stress of driving in business districts, where competition for parking can be fierce and frustrated motorists can find themselves circling blocks repeatedly. Easily guiding them to available parking spots will reduce carbon emissions and stimulate the economic development of city centers, say advocates of so-called “intelligent” parking systems.

That argument has been gaining ground among policymakers who have observed public life in Europe degrade as traffic has increased congestion, reduced street safety, contributed to air and noise pollution, and encroached upon public gathering places.

Already change is afoot among those who wish to reverse the trends. South of Zoetermeer in Breda, a canal that had been drained for the construction of a 200-space underground parking facility was restored and on-street parking removed and replaced by a pedestrian promenade. City officials decided the underground parking didn’t justify losing the waterfront. Today the site is a popular destination.

And in Amsterdam, almost all license plates are digitized. This allows law enforcement officials to scan cars, rapidly photograph offenders’ vehicles, and assess whether they comply with parking rules.

The companies that developed the technology behind Zoetermeer’s effort are seasoned service providers. Vialis, for instance, works with many Dutch cities that want to achieve dynamic traffic management, a traffic management system that combines simulation models with real-time traffic and origin-destination information to predict travel times and network flow patterns. For North-Holland Purmerend, for example, the company installed a Dynamic Route Information Panel (DRIP) to help drivers figure out which routes to Amsterdam would be fastest.

Nedap AVI, which created SENSIT, the network of wireless parking sensors being installed in Zoetermeer’s parking spaces, is similarly experienced. The company provided the wireless parking sensors behind the Shop & Go program of Kortrijk, Belgium. There, the sensors detect when vehicles have overstayed the half hour of free parking that the city offers in certain commercial areas.

Indeed, the two companies’ collaboration in creating and then implementing a “smart parking” solution—the combination of Vialis’s dynamic traffic management system and Nedap’s wireless parking sensors—netted them the Innovation Award this year at Parkeervak, the Dutch premier parking event.

Their work in Zoetermeer is expected to be fully operational by mid-October.

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Category: Municipal, Parking management

About the Author ()

Cielo Lutino is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. She has written for such publications as the L Magazine and Portland Monthly, and her literary nonfiction has appeared in journals such as the Los Angeles Review and Cold Mountain Review.

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  1. Nicholas Dow says:

    what comms system sends the data from the road to the central servers? Mobile telephony or custom built telemetry?

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      I think it’s typically custom telemetry with systems like this, but I’m not 100% sure about that, Nicholas.