An international business centre, global trading hub, and tourism destination, Dubai is on the cusp of a major transformation in smart car parking.
Guided by a variety of Smart City and innovation strategies, Dubai is turning into one of the world’s best connected, smartest and happiest cities. An integral part of its evolution into a futuristic city is smart mobility, entailing a shift towards autonomous vehicles and smart parking solutions.
As the city prepares for Expo 2020 Dubai, mega infrastructure projects leading up to the event are opening up new avenues and creating endless opportunities for greater levels of technology to be applied to even the more innocuous facets of everyday life – car parking. ‘Smart’ parking will be enabled by a variety of driving factors - the Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous vehicles, intelligent parking systems and big data. Technology will determine the growth trajectory of the parking industry.
The shift to smart parking
With the driverless Dubai Metro, automated road tolls known as Salik and plans to embrace autonomous vehicles, Dubai is already at the cutting edge when it comes to mobility but refuses to rest on its litany of achievements so far.
Global studies reveal that almost 40 per cent of city traffic, in major cities around the world, is caused by motorists looking for parking. This makes the development of smart parking imperative and experts believe that this single factor could be the game changer in the city’s pursuit of smart mobility.
Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) recently initiated its Smart Parking Project to provide smart services to residents and visitors. This included the launch of the RTA Smart Drive App, which provides information about the number of available spaces in on-street and off-street public parking. Parking information is displayed in Arabic and English on digital e-signs on streets to give the latest updates.
Why choose smart parking?
From reducing traffic and pollution to decreased management costs and enhanced user experience, the shift to smart parking promises several benefits. Smart car parks are being widely fitted with futuristic features such as electric vehicle charging stations and smart internal navigation. Among the most advanced features in some car parks are e-valet systems which allow drivers to leave their car at the entrance and have the latest sensor technology guide the car to a space to park itself.
Smart parking also provides the unique option for generating additional revenue, as parking structures can be adapted for other uses when less parking is required. With the deployment of sensor technologies, smart parking will eliminate the need to hire so many parking attendants and security staff, resulting in significant operational savings.
Supporting greener practices
Smart parking also supports environmentally friendly practices such as going paperless, cleaner construction techniques and promoting the use of electric vehicles by offering charging stations either free or cheap. UAE-based GreenParking is a leader in this field and has introduced innovations such as park chip dispensers to replace paper tickets. Other initiatives such as guidance systems and smart charging for zero-emission electric cars have also had an impact in reducing gas consumption and vehicular pollution.
Business opportunities in parking
Dubai is home to approximately 112,000 parking spaces across 69 parking zones but with an anticipated 2.2 million vehicles by 2020, there’s a myriad of business opportunities as these cars all need to go somewhere when not at home.
The global smart parking market is poised to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 4.9 per cent to reach an US$1.46 billion by 2025. In Dubai, the smart parking industry has still not matured and is dominated by only a handful of companies. Apart from standard trade licences, the industry is not regulated and its associated businesses, such as car parks, are free to apply any charges for their services. The industry is brimming with competitive opportunities and offers enough scope for new players developing technological and green innovations to enhance the user experience.
The road ahead
The significance of smart parking has grown beyond economising the value of the land on which it sits. In the context of smart cities and optimising infrastructure, smart parking delivers on multiple fronts including efficiency, sustainability and value-added revenue.
Other world leading smart cities are leveraging smart parking features including sensor technologies, smart parking meters, wireless communications including apps for devices of all sizes and data analytics for optimum results. As Dubai ramps up its smart mobility strategy with multiple transport innovations, the best for the smart parking industry is yet to come.