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The average city driver spends 6-14 minutes looking for a parking place, and in large cities, the time increases to 18-20 minutes. It is estimated that this time spent searching for a parking lot represents 30% of congestion on city streets.  A Smart Parking System makes use of sensors or other technologies to determine the availability of parking lots in cities. This information can be shared with drivers, reducing the time spent looking for parking and thus reducing traffic congestion.  Moreover, smart parking can be used to improve the usability at the parking place itself. 

Parking fees are already part of the cities’ revenues. Implementing a Smart Parking System enables cities to control their traffic better, apply different tariffs according to different areas and hours, and to use per minute rates - instead of flat rates - thanks to new billing models.

 (Shoup, 2007; Shoup, 2008; IBM, 2011)

Smart Parking systems and their functions can have several effects that can support the aims of the municipality or the users. The following diagram shows how the different aspects are intertwined.

Caption: Essential benefits of Smart Parking (Anke, Scholle, 2016, translated)

Problems to be solved

Bad air quality


Underused parking space

Park offenders



The main goal of a Smart Parking System is to help people find a free parking spot without driving around the city searching for one. Thereby, it decreases the traffic and simultaneously the congestion within the city. In addition, the solution achieves the benefits listed below. Whereas some benefits are likely to be fulfilled with a basic implementation of the solution, the fulfilment of the potential benefits depends on the functions implemented in a specific project.

Main Benefits
  • Reducing GHG emissions

  • Reducing local air pollution

  • Improving traffic management

  • Improving parking


Functions help you to understand what the products can do for you and which ones will help you achieve your goals.
Each Solution has at least one mandatory function, which is needed to achieve the basic purpose of the Solution, and several additional functions, which are features that can be added to provide additional benefits.

Mandatory Functions
    monitoring parking lots

    products that control occupancy and length of stay in the parking lots

    informing driver about parking possibilities

    Products that inform the customer about free parking lots

Potential Functions
    paying for parking lot

    products that enable to pay for the service

    reserving parking lot

    Products that enable booking a parking lot

    guiding driver to free parking lot

    Products that show the way to free parking lots

    parking customers' car

    Products that park the customer’s car automatically



These sensors measure how many parking lots are used and unused. The created data can be used to for other services like parking apps. Different variants of sensors for vehicle registration are available (overhead-sensors, sensors built in the floor or in the curbstones). Furthermore, the sensors can also be used to detect parking offenders. If the sensor also detects how long the car is parked, automatic parking tickets can be produced. It is also possible to use sensors at special parking lots (for e-charging or disabled people) and connect the information to an application. This helps these people to find the parking lots suited for their needs.   

(Fraunhofer IAO, 2019)


One option is to use apps that automatically open barriers or doors to parking facilities. Another one is the implementation of sensors at the entrances that scan the license plate and connect it to the parking ticket.


Secure charging infrastructure for electric cars and bicycles, inverter, lockers for e-bike batteries and personal valuables could be provided. Also parking sensors combined with light/displays to show availability in parking garages can be implemented.

(Fraunhofer IAO, 2019)


The application combines different functions like navigating to free parking lots, paying parking fees and open entrances.

(Fraunhofer IAO, 2019)


On this platform, private parking lots are offered for other people to use for parking by the owner.

(Fraunhofer IAO, 2019)


Usually, there are displays or parking guidance signs at the street that lead into the city centre and to parking opportunities. With help of this information, drivers can decide where to find the nearest free parking lot.

(Fraunhofer IAO, 2019)  


Automated parking is a mechanical system which parks the cars itself (e.g. parks cars on multiple levels stacked vertically). Thereby, land usage can be minimised because less space is needed for ramps, etc.


As already described, sensors can detect if a parking lot is used. The same principle can be used for bicycles. Available and occupied parking spaces are identified, and digital signs show the available spaces to customers. Moreover, there are systems that automatically park bicycles.

Caption: Automated bike parking (GIKEN, 2019)

Cost Structure

Costs differ a lot depending on the variant and number of equipped parking lots. As a reference, a trial package by T-systems with 15 sensors operates for two years and API interface and consultation for the installation costs are €8,998.

(T-Systems International GmbH, 2020)

Another cost example shows how much money has to be spent for a robotic parking system (Automated Parking). Here an automated parking system can even reduce costs, because more parking lots can be produced and commercialised in the same area.

Caption: Comparison of costs for a conventional garage and a robotic parking system (Robotic Parking, 2020)

Aside from the implementation and maintenance costs, there are also cost benefits through a potential cost reduction and a potential revenue increase.

Caption: results of some Smart Parking installations (Anke & Scholle, 2016)

Caption: Financial potentials of Smart Parking (EY, 2017)

City Context

Costs depend on number of parking lots, type of parking, existing infrastructure for traffic, etc.


Supporting Factors

Already existing traffic guidance system lower the costs and helps to successfully implement the new smart parking module into the overall traffic system.

No big infrastructural development is required, as sensors and cameras can be installed into the current city infrastructure. 

A stable internet connection is required for sending and receiving information.

Government Initiatives

Cities like Barcelona, Birmingham, Braunschweig and Manchester have implemented pilot projects for smart parking. As shown in the table, the smart parking projects had recognizable positive effects in many cities.

Caption: Results of Sensor implementation in different cities 

(Anke, Scholle, 2016, translated)

Research has shown that there can be a reduction of 240g CO2 and 231 mg NOx per parking lot search.

(T-Systems International GmbH, 2019)

Stakeholder Mapping

Caption: Stakeholder Mapping (BABLE, 2021)

Market Potential

The market for Smart Parking is still in development. Many new companies are founded and new products are launched. The size of the global market is predicted to grow from 1,9 billion $ to 3,8 billion §.

Caption: Size of global smart parking market in 2018 and 2023 in billion US$

(statista, IoT Analytics, 2018)

Smart Parking offers various benefits for citizens as well as for the operator and the municipality. Depending on the details of the solution implemented, the main benefits can vary. The following graphic shows the operation of a Smart Parking System, including the matching benefits the solution offers.

Caption: Smart Parking process

  • Decreased Congestion: As free parking spots can be found easily, the need to drive around in a city to find a parking lot is obviated and the traffic congestion decreases.
  • Time-savings and less stress: Citizens can save time as they are guided to a free parking spot straight away, which also reduces the level of stress when driving in cities.
  • Flexible pricing models: Due to exact monitoring of occupancy of parking spots, prices can be adapted easily. On average, current implementations show that this leads to decreased prices and increased utilisation of paid parking spots. Overall, this also leads to an increased revenue for the operator. 
  • Increased personal efficiency: As all parking spots are monitored in a Smart Parking System, there is less need for patrols and the capture-rate still increases.

 (Shoup, 2007; Shoup, 2008; IBM, 2011)


There is no European regulation regarding smart parking, as it is usually the city's responsibility to regulate parking. For example, some cities like Zurich and Hamburg have limited the number of parking spaces in the city centre. Therefore, if a new parking place is built off-street, an on-street place should be eliminated. Cities also have regulations regarding the parking time, tariffs, parking zones and user restrictions (Residents, disabled, etc.).

(ITDP, 2011)

  • Regulation (EU) 2016/679: General Data Protection Regulation

(EUR-Lex, 2021)

The creation of this Solution has been supported by EU funding

Use Cases

Parking Management System

With the vision of transforming the parking policy from normative numbers, a more demand driven optimum solution was developed using ICT technologies to improve the user experience. The system is aimed at increasing the occupancy of parking lots.

Smart taxi stand system in Barcelona

The Smart Taxi Pilot in the city of Barcelona makes it possilbe to provide taxi drivers and taxi clients with real time information about taxi availability at each taxi stand through a mobile app.

Digital Parking Management: ParkingSpotter

MHP is testing its self-developed ParkingSpotter as part of the Living LaB innovation network in Ludwigsburg. The aim of the pilot project is to reduce the amount of traffic in the cul-de-sac, thus reducing the risk of pedestrians, reducing exhaust fumes, saving time for those looking for a parking

Green parking index in combination with car sharing pool with EV

The Green parking index in Stockholm is designed to encourage alternative forms of transport, thus reducing the demand for the private parking places which must be provided when building new and renovating old housing in Stockholm.

Mobility Station in Mülheim

The Mobility stations in Mülheim provide commuters and residents of the busy district with a location, where they can easily find various alternative transport options. The aim is to encourage behavioral change from using cars towards more active modes of transport like walking and cycling. 

Adaptive parking management based on energy efficiency and occupancy

The Municipality of Madrid designed a smart parking management scheme, including giving priority to HOVs and clean vehicles, and specific parking regulations to encourage good and sustainable urban delivery operations.

Smart and flexible parking using new technology

The city of Stockholm is piloting two semi-automatic systems for on-street parking surveillance.

Shared e-mobility system in Milan

Milan’s shared e-mobility system includes: e-cars, e-bikes, e-logistics vehicles, smart parking, e-vehicle charging, and condominium e-car sharing.

City of Tequila gears up for a smart future

Culture, heritage, and a unique national drink. The Mexican town of Tequila has already captured the world’s attention. But now it’s about to become famous for a completely different reason: the town is going digital. By 2040, it doesn’t just want to be a smart town, it wants to be a Smart City.

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