February 28, 2024

What Is Happening in the Mobility Space - 2024 Is the Year of Parking and Curbside

By: Dan Mathers

2024 has already started off as another dynamic year of growth and expansion. As we’ve moved further away from the shutdowns that came with the pandemic, we’ve returned to the traffic and parking levels previously experienced – and, in some cases, surpassed prior levels along with becoming somewhat unpredictable. Increased traffic congestion and parking difficulty has made mobility harder for people to navigate and more difficult for cities to manage. So, what can we expect this year? Below, I share some high-level thoughts, based on conversations I’ve been having with customers, industry colleagues and more. 

Citizen-Centric Smart Cities 

Last year we already began to see cities prioritize the adoption of smart solutions that improved equity, inclusivity, and access for their citizens, and we expect this trend to accelerate even further. The priority is no longer adopting technology for the sake of having it. Instead, cities and institutions are looking for solutions that help them accomplish citizen-centric goals like creating and developing more livable/safe environments or improving the delivery of public services. 

One area that will be a major focus is the mobility space, as it is critical to helping create safer cities. Smart solutions that can help improve public transportation, parking, EV infrastructure and overall public mobility will be a key focus for cities/institutions because these solutions can help address many pressing issues facing cities today, including traffic congestion, safety, and environmental concerns. 

In conjunction, we anticipate that dynamic curbside management will become a critical component in improving mobility. The curb is where the many different facets of mobility interact and constantly shift. It has become even more difficult to manage the curb because of the increased demand/usage of it by ride-share and food delivery apps. Many cities have begun collecting data to understand more accurately how the curbside is being used. We predict that by the end of this year and into next year, they will begin developing policies that better address the curb access needs of the public. 

Intrinsic to the concept of citizen-centric smart cities is that privacy is non-negotiable. When considering which solution providers to contract, cities and institutions are putting a premium on technology solutions that minimize the unnecessary collection of their citizens’ data. For example, a few years ago camera-based smart parking solutions were the “winners” as this type of smart technology was being adopted by cities in place of other options. However, over the past few years, there has been a pushback against the adoption of camera-based technology because of privacy concerns around the collection of drivers’ license plates and other identifiable data. Now cities are moving away from camera-based smart parking solutions and many RFP’s explicitly state that they require solutions that do not collect identifiable data as privacy is a top priority. 

Quality Data Will Be Mammoth  

While there is no doubt that data makes the world go round, this year we will begin to see the impact quality data can have on cities and institutions, especially as it relates to improving mobility. Companies might use buzzwords to describe their smart city tech but if the data their products collect is not high-quality, cities and institutions will end up making guesses and prognostications on how to improve mobility.  

High-quality data can be determined by four main characteristics: 

  1. Accuracy: Is the data as accurate as possible? Are there any factors that are affecting the accuracy of this data? 
  2. Frequency: How frequently are the measurements made, and, therefore, how current is the information? 
  3. Timeliness: What is the delay between the time the measurement is taken and the time it is available to use? 
  4. Granularity: Do the measurements provide enough detail? 

As mentioned in the first trend, curbside management has become a key focal point for parking, mobility, and safety in busy and congested areas. Having access to accurate, 24/7 data offers a picture of “True Occupancy,” or insights beyond just payment data and into a realm of real impact for those locations. This is mainly due to the fact that a sizable percentage of people do not pay for parking even in metered spaces, which means payment data is not fully accurate. 

As high-quality data becomes even more readily available this year, decision makers can execute better programs that improve citizen safety, drive economic development, and implement more impactful planning measures. 

The Accelerated Adoption of AI 

While it may get the most hype today, AI won’t be relegated to just ChatGPT and other language model platforms. AI will also be the driving force behind the next wave of smart city innovation. AI can and will be leveraged for a multitude of “smart” applications, especially those that require predictive analytics like energy consumption and planning, pollution, and traffic management. 

In the mobility and parking spaces, the high-quality data sets collected can be interpreted by AI for various use cases. A few examples include: 

  1. Traffic flow optimization: AI-powered mobility systems can analyze traffic flow patterns and suggest alternative routes or parking options to drivers to minimize congestion and improve overall traffic flow. 
  2. Curbside management: AI can create a simulation model of expected “user” behavior. Parking managers can then use this information to test potential parking policies. 
  3. Dynamic pricing: AI can help optimize parking pricing based on supply and demand dynamics, traffic congestion, and other relevant factors.  
  4. Predictive parking: AI algorithms can analyze historical parking data, traffic patterns, events, and weather forecasts to predict parking demand in specific areas at various times. This enables parking operators to optimize pricing, allocate resources effectively, and anticipate peak demand periods. 

As smart city mobility technologies evolve, they open up new possibilities for addressing the complex challenges that come with this space to ultimately enhance people's lives. I’m excited that eleven-x will be part of this positive progress!  

Want more information on some of the topics discussed here like True Occupancy, types of data or similar? Send me an email as I would be happy to talk with you.