Cutting the cost of the search for parking

Ask any driver to identify a part of driving that makes them crazy and one answer will invariably be searching for parking. The idea of circling city streets, scanning every available space for a spot that just isn’t there is frustrating, as anyone can attest. But that exasperated feeling is not the only cost to you, the city you’re in or the environment as a whole.

Think about the stress caused by arriving at your destination but being unable to actually “get there” because of being stuck in a seemingly never-ending cycle searching for a space. In fact, a study measuring Americans’ frustration with parking found that 61% of drivers reported they felt stressed trying to find a parking spot, 42% missed an appointment, 34% abandoned a trip due to parking problems and 23% experienced road rage.

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Then there’s the production loss of economic competitiveness in places where parking is hard to find. In the UK and Germany alone, drivers waste 44 and 41 hours per year at an estimated cost of 26.6 billion and 40.4 billion EUR, respectively, searching for parking, according to a study by INRIX Research. Consider also the much repeated statistic that up to 30% of urban traffic is caused by searching for parking, which in turn delays everyone else on the road, such as cyclists and pedestrians, exponentially.

In another study by INRIX, it is stated that the hidden costs of congestion and parking make up one-third of all costs of owning a vehicle. The total costs of car ownership was broken down into two categories: direct costs, which included maintenance, fuel, insurance, parking and toll fees, and indirect costs such as wasted search time, parking fines and overpayments and carbon emissions.

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So, the domino effect caused by prolonged parking searches is multifaceted: it eats away at driver good will, wastes time and fuel, contributes to traffic congestion and emissions, not to mention delays drivers for personal and business engagements, all while increasing the cost of actually owning a vehicle and diminishing the productivity of cities. The numbers don’t lie: searching for parking is costly and it stinks.

So is there a solution? EasyPark thinks there are two. For years, EasyPark has been making parking easier for millions of users across Europe. Now, the company is focusing on cutting down traffic congestion by identifying parking bottlenecks and getting drivers to available parking spots quickly. The company has introduced Find & Park and the Parking Dashboard, two offerings that are easing the pain of parking. Find & Park helps drivers find available on- and off-street parking close to their destination. So how does it work?

Find & Park integrates an empirical and statistical approach, combining these two methods to guide drivers and show parking availability even down to the street level. Using advanced algorithms to process various data sources including transaction data, device tracking data, sensor data and floating car data, EasyPark has been able to build an accurate, high-resolution map of parking availability. This seed revolutionary concept was first planted in 2016 when EasyPark acquired Parko, a specialist in the field. In addition, the technology does not require further infrastructure to work as there is no need for hardware installations whatsoever.

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“Faster paths to available parking spaces not only reduce congestion and emissions, but also a lot of stress and frustration for motorists,” says Johan Birgersson, CEO of EasyPark Group. “Preliminary testing of Find & Park in Stockholm, Sweden, has shown to reduce the amount of time spent searching for parking by up to 50 percent, which has the potential to have a truly powerful effect on both congestion and pollution in the city,” he says.

Using a data-based approach, the Parking Dashboard is designed to provide cities and parking operators with a complete overview of their operations, which allows them to optimize their parking processes. It offers its users a map, helping them to see when and where cars are parked. If there are spots that are frequently taken, the operator or city can take action and direct drivers to a nearby spot or even restrict the amount of time drivers can park there, maximizing traffic flow in the city.

“The Parking Dashboard facilitates and supports long term decisions which can be made together with politicians: from where people can park, and for how long, to what they should pay,” says Sebastian Ritzen, Product Owner at EasyPark. “It uses the design philosophy and simplicity that we’ve applied for the consumer, so the users can access and analyse massive amounts of useful data, but can do so in a way that’s easy-to-understand and user-friendly.”

The best part for cities and drivers is that these two solutions stop the domino effect of parking searches in its tracks. By directing drivers via the optimal route to available parking spots, not only are congestion, emissions and frustration diminished, but so is the time wasted searching, which increases productivity. And by offering cities the data to make informed decisions on zoning, pricing, restrictions and inventory, traffic flow is improved. No matter how you look at it, it’s a win-win situation for drivers and cities alike.