Benefits of Smart Parking Series: How Smart Parking Reduces Pollution3 min read
WHO has declared air pollution as the world’s largest environmental health risk. A prime contributor to air pollution, vehicle emissions such as chloro-fluoro carbons, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrogen dioxide are on the rise as more vehicles take to the roads.
It is no surprise that energy production and use (including fuels used by vehicles) were the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 – a whopping 71% of the total.
A major culprit of pollution in our cities today is the traffic jam. Studies find that 30% of traffic congestions are the result of drivers searching for a parking spot. It isn’t hard to imagine the pollution such vehicles cause – an estimated 10% to the average vehicle’s CO2 emissions. Because the air we breathe directly impacts our life expectancy, the issue of polluted cities needs urgent action.
Inefficient parking is polluting our cities
India’s worsening pollution levels are no secret. According to WHO, Delhi houses the world’s most polluted air with small particulate matter six times the safe level. India is also believed to have the world’s highest death rate from chronic respiratory diseases. A major cause of the pollution in Indian cities is vehicle traffic including cargo trucks running on low-grade diesel etc.
Additionally, drivers circling around parking spaces in search of a spot frequently ‘cold start’ their vehicle; according to studies, cold starts to increase carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 35%. Because inefficient parking also leads to traffic jams, the problem of noise pollution with rampant honking is aggravated too.
Vehicles that move at a high speed emit less amount of toxins but due to lack of space, traffic jams have become the order of the day. Toxins are thus emitted at a higher level as most motorists leave their vehicle engines on even when they are stuck in traffic, often caused by other motorists looking for parking.
Smart parking as a solution to rising pollution
Smart parking can significantly curb air and noise pollution levels through sustainable urban mobility, saving time and energy, reducing traffic problems, and bringing air and noise pollution down.
It uses sensors to indicate the availability of a parking lot, eliminating the need for drivers to waste time searching for space. By directing drivers to open spaces quickly, smart parking can reduce congestion and resultant emissions. Smart parking systems do this by collecting data in real time, relaying it to drivers through a mobile application. The apps also come with an automated payment method that allows for space reservation, thus reducing the time spent on road polluting the environment.
Through parking data, smart parking systems also enable city administrations to access crucial data to pave the way for cleaner environments. However, such benefits are unlikely to occur with outdated infrastructure in place and disconnected systems that can’t communicate with each other. By leveraging IoT, smart parking easily solves this problem. Additionally, by implementing dynamic pricing based on available space, smart parking can significantly reduce congestion and overuse of parking lots, thus impacting air and noise pollution.
How cities are battling pollution with smart parking
Cities around the world are already adopting smart parking solutions in a bid to create smarter, less polluted cities. San Francisco’s SFPark initiative in 2011 demonstrably reduced time taken to find a space by 43% and vehicle miles driven in pilot areas by 30%. As a result, greenhouse gas emissions also dropped by 30% and traffic volume decreased by 8%. Thus, parking became more readily available and a positive environmental impact was realized.
Madrid has introduced smart parking meters that slap a surcharge on high polluting cars and reduce charges for fuel-efficient vehicles, a move that is expected to ease pollution levels. The price of parking also varies also vary depending on how parking spot availability.
Smart city initiatives promise to improve quality of life by creating a pollution-free environment. The harmful impact of vehicle emissions can thus be effectively curtailed through smart, pensive, and far-sighted parking solutions. Smart parking is one giant leap in the direction of promoting a sustainable ecosystem and making our cities more livable.