Modern-day Parking: a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of conveniencethat does not exist.

Those familiar with David Hasselhoff’s Knight Rider might lament when searching for a park; wishing Knight Industries Two Thousand (KITT) could deliver them to an easy and accessible parking space while fighting injustice. Hours spent aimlessly driving around block to block looking for a park while our lives end a-minute-at-a-time seems to be the norm. But what if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way, that new innovative approaches to parking are here. What if I told you that new LED technology has actually created KITT?!  
Well, you would call me a liar, and you would be half-right, because there is a new innovative approach to parking. But rather than talking-cars it uses networked LED-based lighting attached to sensors to improve the parking experience.  
Every day we use data-backed decisions to help us confidently make choices that improve our lives. For fitness we have devices such as Fitbit, which alert and monitor us when we should be active, and ensure we reach our health and fitness goals. Real-time traffic and fuel apps let us know the best route to take, or where the cheapest petrol is so we know when to run an errand later or where to go to get the most out of our money.
Now, innovation has reached the parking lot, now, data is here for parking. 
Smart parking is a revolutionary way to consider how we park. It works through the use of sensing devices attached to LED-based lighting systems to determine occupancy at the space level or at the structure/lot level. Meaning, the parking lot itself provides real time information to traffic signs and smart phone apps that will guide you to an available parking space – it’s just as if you were having a text conversation with the parking lot! Smart Parking can inform you of the exact level of parking available at your destination and the best route to get there. So we can’t be entirely like Michael Knight and palm off some simple tasks – like driving – to KITT, but we can save time we don’t have when finding a park.  
Before LED-based lighting, traffic congestion and area lighting at parking lots had long been a problem when searching for a park. Many parking lots were too bright or over lit in some areas and too dark in others. Smart parking has the potential to save you time and reduce traffic congestion caused by other people cruising for a park. And having proper lighting brings a sense of comfort and safety that only comes from a proper lit area. Not to mention the LEDs dramatically reduce energy and maintenance costs.  
Cities in Australia and across the world are using LEDs and digital tools to improve their parking system. The reason smart parking is picking up popularity is because it provides solutions to the challenges of 24/7 operation in parking management. The results of cities using this new system are overwhelmingly positive: 
Multi-level facilities now have superior light quality with virtually no maintenance, and with shadows minimised safety is enhanced and security cameras operate more efficiently. San Francisco in the U.S.A discovered smart parking reduced the time spent searching for a parking space by 43 per cent. In France, the city Nice concluded smart parking reduced congestion by 10 per cent. This new parking system has the potential to reduce traffic congestion, save people time, increase enforcement efficiency and allow better management of parking supply.    
But what makes this parking innovation so brilliant is the greater affect it has on related issues. For example, traffic congestion is not only a problem when finding a park, it also raises a variety of social challenges. These challenges come at the cost of loss of business time, private time, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle operating costs. With LED technology, smart parking can address the various challenges of congestion and improve public transport.  
Businesses are also affected by parking availability. Customers require access to nearby short term parking, in particular, retail businesses need to ensure there is access to such parking. The causes shaping the availability of parking can be characterised by high occupancy and the underutilisation of nearby parking areas. These underlying causes can be determined simply by a customer not being aware of parking availability unless they drive around or are familiar of the area. Smart parking has the potential to simplify such problems and allow easy access for customers.
Now it won’t be long until people say, “What, you use to circle aimlessly around the block to look for a parking space?!” and cities will be perplexed at the idea of not having data to monitor parking functions and traffic congestion. The potential of street-level sensing and LED lighting has merely been scratched, new innovative technology is being produced every day! Who knows, we might soon have a homing beacon hidden in a gold pendent around our necks to summon our own KITTs to pick us up from shopping, making parking redundant all together. As we focus more on efficient lighting and sensing technology, the possibilities in which we manage resources and enhance the way we live become endless. 

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