Rebecca C. Jernigan, firstname.lastname@example.org
CENTURY CITY, Calif. – Finding an empty spot in a parking garage can be a pain. You drive up and down and around, finally see an open space, pull up – and it’s a handicapped spot. It’s annoying, it’s frustrating, and it could be a thing of the past.
Park Assist, a company based in Sydney, Australia, has introduced an electronic parking management system in North America that determines the location of empty spaces and guides drivers to them using low-voltage LEDs. Besides simplifying the hunt and decreasing waiting time by about 55 percent, the system reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 56 percent because fewer cars are idling while looking for spaces.
The Park Assist uses sensors to detect vehicles and lights to guide drivers to open spaces. Red means the spot is full, green marks an open space, blue is for the handicapped, and purple is for expectant mothers. Signs at major intersections prevent drivers from entering rows or sections with no available parking. Courtesy of Park Assist.
The system, also called Park Assist, uses sensors in each parking spot to detect the presence or absence of a vehicle. Signals are transmitted to lights and signs on each parking spot and at every row that shows an open space. The information also is sent to directional signage at major intersections within the garage, so drivers are guided down only rows that have available parking spots. The system can be programmed to identify handicapped and “expectant mothers” spaces, and color-coded LEDs can lead drivers to those spots – perhaps making a trip to the mall less stressful.
Park Assist was launched in Australia in 2006, but the version currently in use at Westfield Century City shopping center in Century City is the first in the United States. According to the company, the system also could be used to improve traffic flow in new developments, to ensure access to all parking places in garages at hospitals and airports (and, therefore, increase financial returns), and to improve data management and policy setting in cities and universities.