Sustainability problem: Urban mobility
Drivers usually circle the blocks around their destination to find parking, and over 30% of traffic in cities is caused by these cars looking for a parking space. The problem is that there is almost no real-time information about available parking spots. Even in cities with smart parking meters that make this information publicly available, this data doesn’t account for those who park illegally, park with a permit, or depart early from still-paid meters.
Technology solution: Machine learning prediction
- Earlier this year, Google Maps started showing an icon with predicted parking availability when displaying driving directions. This feature is available in 25 cities across the US.
- This new feature works using a combination of crowdsourcing and machine learning algorithms that predict parking difficulty in a certain destination, based on anonymous aggregated information from users who opt to share their data on Google Maps or Waze.
- “Parking difficulty” is estimated by identifying users that circled around a destination instead of arriving right away to a place. The more circling, more difficult the parking in that area must be. Using this information, the machine learning model assigns a descriptive prediction of parking availability to display to the user, like “Easy” or “Limited parking”.
- In a pre-launch experiment, Google researchers saw a significant increase in clicks on the transit travel mode button, indicating that users with additional knowledge of parking difficulty were more likely to consider public transit rather than driving.
- City Officials
- Department of Transportation
- Parking lot owners
- Local communities
Implementation steps (for a more integrated solution)
- Connect with City Officials and Department of Transportation to incorporate traffic data sources into the model
- Connect with parking lot owners to incorporate real-time information of the parking availability on their garages
- Scale the solution to other cities.
“One great feature of this solution is that it is can be assembled by anyone. It comes with a DIY kit and easy instructions, so there is no need for a professional technician and you get the system ready in a few hours.”