Circling around the block trying to nab and outwit fellow drivers for that gloriously close parking space may be coming to end. This year, Barcelona and several other cities in Spain are test-driving a system created by Urbiotica, an urban-planning-solutions firm. Urbiotica has developed a system using battery powered sensors placed in the asphalt beneath parking spaces to track when a space is occupied. Each sensor contains optical receptors which gather information on what happens to block out the light. In addition to light receptors, these sensors contain a magnetic field detector to verify whether that a car is physically blocking the light, and not a cloud, airplane or any other object passing in front of the sun or closest light post.
After the sensors have confirmed a vehicle is parked in the spot, the system sends out a radio-frequency to a data collector, which then relays the information of open spots to any receiver programmed to interpret the message. Theoretically, it can be sent to parking administration organizations, or be displayed on electronic billboards for the general public use, but what we're most excited for is the possibility of receiving parking information directly to drivers' smartphones or navigation units.
Despite the obvious satisfaction this can provide, the real positive effects are how it trickles down and allows for the alleviation of congestion and emissions by reducing double parking and constant circling. This model also allows the cities to gather valuable data in terms of demands in certain areas for parking by tracking turnaround times of spots and frequency of availabilities.