Let’s start by finding a parking spot in the city (with Google).


When I was a child I lived in the historical center of my city, Bologna, and although it is not a megalopolis it has always suffered from the problem of parking. I remember on my way home, the endless laps that my parents would make around the block to find a free parking space, often stopping to wait for a visible spot to become free.

At that time parking structures were not so widespread and parking on street was regulated by parking meters, the classic coin-operated parking meters with a red time disk that marked the duration. Obviously there were no navigation systems or cell phones, so the search for a parking space was like going fishing, it took patience and luck.

With the passing of the years there have been Operators who have transformed old and scratched structures into opportunities for the city, requalifying them and giving them a new use, providing equipment for the management of parking every area available for the purpose.

Nowadays, however, we are thinking more and more to provide not a shelter for your car, but a valid alternative to the purchase of garages that are increasingly small and not very usable.

So we are moving from the concept of the parking space to that of the service aimed at the parking, prolonged or temporary, and in this scenario the transition from hardware to software is now a non-issue.

In all industries it is turning more to service than to the actual sale of a component. Or rather, the component is aimed at the realization of a service that in fact becomes more important than the product itself.

In the field of mobility, the concept of parking is evolving, whether it is on street (parking on the street) or off street (parking in structure), access control is migrating from automation systems complete with entrances, exits and automatic cash machines, to free flow systems and payments via app.

A clear evolution of this concept is being applied as expected, Google, which, with one of its thousand companies, Sidewalks Labs, has developed a concept as simple as useful.

What does it do?

The ability to guide the user not only to a preset location in Google Maps, but even to the free parking or stall in the area. We are talking about the combined use of the current geolocation technology that now each of us has in his pocket, Maps in fact, associated with local hardware, called Peeble, which, once installed on the stall, indicate the status free or complete.

The market is full of single space counting solutions, but Peeble fills and integrates itself into a segment of user services that goes beyond dedicated systems and becomes an integral part of the search for the longed-for free space.

If the parking facilities, today through different applications, provided by managers or manufacturers, can provide information on the availability of their spaces, for what concerns the on street is another thing. Both, however, do not natively support addressing via Google Maps, but rely, eventually, on this service, redirecting the customer’s requests.

This is not a small thing if we think of the potential that this service can offer if made available to historical centers or areas with a high housing rate and low number of parking spaces.

How does it do it?

Pebble by providing real-time data on parking availability, helps reduce vehicle recirculation and create shared parking zones. Pebble’s low-infrastructure design also makes it easier to install and less expensive than existing roadside sensors on the market. The manufacturer guarantees years of battery life to benefit maintenance costs.

The gateway needed to collect sensor data runs on solar power and uses the cellular network for data transfer, so it can be tied to a pole without the need to wire new wires or make new excavations, a critical element in city centers.

Once in place, Pebble sensors report the presence (or absence) of a vehicle in real time. This is all Pebble collects: the presence or absence of a vehicle. Since there are no cameras, the privacy issue is effectively over, returning only the occupancy status.

If this concept were to become a city ecositema, integrated with the parking systems in the structure, as users, we would have access not only to navigation to our destinations, but also to the free stall and why not, knowing the rate and being able to pay with our mobile devices.

Credits: https://www.sidewalklabs.com/insights/introducing-pebble-a-low-cost-way-to-manage-parking-and-curbs