How to choose a Smart Parking sensor?

The need for a smart parking system cannot be overlooked when global developments for smart city solutions take place. A growing number of vehicles and cars and the unavailability of parking slots defeat the purpose of productivity, livelihood, space management, and even the environmental sustainability of a city. A smart parking solution is a perfect technology to address these smart city challenges while offering a plethora of benefits.

What are parking sensors?

To understand the technology of smart parking sensors, it is crucial to understand the workings and purpose of a smart parking system. A Smart parking system is a technology using an IoT ecosystem that is used to enable users with a better parking experience. These smart parking systems would allow users to reserve their parking slots in advance, find nearby parking spaces, and monitor parking availability. On the other hand, for site authorities, it allows them the correct management of the visitors and monitors the parking vacancies easily, along with time advantage.

Like most IoT systems, smart parking sensors primarily detect a car’s presence or verify if the parking slot is occupied. These smart parking systems are supported by long-range IoT gateways such as LoRaWAN Gateways. Additionally, there might be some onsite indications/barriers allowing visitors to know of parking reservations. Often there is a middleware user interface through which administrators can ensure the correct parking management by watching and monitoring the parking site.

Smart parking sensors are mainly used to identify cars occupancy. Such proximity devices would generally be used to briefly verify the presence of a car in a particular parking slot, and therefore these IoT sensors are implemented sophisticatedly.

How do parking sensors work?

Detecting the presence of a car can be bifurcated in a two-step operation. Firstly, the IoT solution device needs to identify a car's presence in a particular parking spot. The other part is to ensure that the parking slot is detected as occupied because of a car only. Both these items can be achieved with several engineering technology approaches, allowing IoT parking systems to offer search, navigation, and reservation of the parking slot.

Different solutions such as Computer Vision, Proximity Detection, Distance detection, and even RF/magnetic presence can be used to build smart parking sensors. This technology offers unique advantages such as accuracy of distance park detection, wider angle of park detection, energy efficiency, and monitoring multiple parking slots simultaneously. Therefore, it is the best bet to use hybrid parking sensors with long-range communication abilities. LoRa-based parking sensors can offer the required extended range and decrease the overall system cost due to a minimal number of gateway devices.

Which parking sensors are used in smart parking systems?

As mentioned, smart parking sensors have a variety of approaches. Each one has distinct characteristics and advantages. It is essential to understand technologies behind different smart parking sensors solutions:

  • Camera-based detection:
    Camera-based parking IoT solution devices are relatively a new technology approach that has grown with developments in Computer Vision. This image/video processing approach requires the computation of surveillance media to identify any car on the parking slot. While cameras can monitor multiple parking spaces, there might be blind spots and potential blocks for this method.

On top of that, processing images or video content in real-time asks for additional onboard processing hardware or a cloud processing platform. This is a costly solution considering camera and computation systems thus cannot be used in a scalable manner.

  • LiDAR sensors:
    It is a reflection-based technology approach where LiDAR can detect a reflection where a car is present. These reflections are of light and, therefore, would only support close-range accuracy. They require computation and cost heavily compared to other methods. But LiDAR sensors can offer good accuracy and better frequency as they can scan for a car several times in a second.
  • In-ground vehicle detection sensors:

In-ground sensors are the most sophisticated parking sensors of the lot. Such IoT solution devices use magnetometer, infrared, ultrasonic, and radar technologies. They all use different working principles. Magnetometer-based sensors can detect vehicles by identifying distortion into the magnetic field because of ferrous/iron in the car body.

Infrared sensors can detect vehicles by emitting photons and sensing their reflection. They can moreover identify the distance of park cars by comparing photon’s speed of propagation. Ultrasonic sensors are similar to infrared’s Time-of-Flight (ToF) method, but they use ultrasound waves instead of photons.

Radar also uses ToF, but it depends on radio waves instead of photons or ultrasound waves. Radar outclasses IR or Ultrasound as it is less susceptible to interference, can detect vehicles through snow, and can be tuned only to detect low clearance park occupancy. In contrast, the best choice is to go with a hybrid parking sensor with a Radar and Magnetometer that can offer the best sensitivity, accuracy, and range.

How to install a parking sensor?

Of course, different types of sensors are installed in various manners. For instance, cameras are tricky and should be installed at a certain distance at an angle through which they can avoid blind spots. LiDAR sensors are usually installed on 30-centimeters to 80-centimeters high posts that are located repeatedly at a certain distance but would require massive processing to make meaning out of it.

In-ground vehicle IoT sensors are the easiest when it comes to installing. Usually installed at every parking slot on the ground, these sensors can detect the car parked above. These IoT sensors can simply be glued on the surface or can be fixed with screws. Moreover, these IoT sensors are easily exchangeable without any unique installation practices, and mostly they do not require any maintenance. LoRaWAN-based intelligent parking systems can communicate with LoRaWAN gateways through the parking site and transmit the data to the internet.

What is the cost of installing smart parking sensors?

The cost to implement a smart parking system is essentially the cost of buying IoT smart sensors, network gateways, connectivity, and cloud services. Here, choosing a suitable smart parking sensor can be the primary criteria. Affordable yet accurate parking sensors with long-range communication like LoRa can cut down the lending cost substantially.

While LiDAR and Camera-based sensors can be expensive, they also require computation which adds more to the cost. In-ground sensors are straightforward with their price, and here is a breakdown of their cost:

  • The cost for a quality magnetic parking sensor with LoRa communication is around 70-120 USD on average, depending on the parameters such as accuracy and reading rate. One such example is Gemtek smart parking sensor WMDS-208 EU868.
  • Hybrid parking sensors where magnetometer, as well as Radar, is implemented offer better accuracy and reliability. Such solution devices cost as per the precision and accuracy ranging from $140 to $250.

Here’s an example of such a high-quality LoRaWAN smart parking sensor:  Bosch TPS110EU parking sensor.

Benefits of deploying smart parking sensors?

There are significant direct or indirect benefits of deploying an efficient parking sensor. Here’s why smart cities must deploy smart parking sensors:

  • Environmental sustainability:
    Smart parking systems can eliminate significant traveling and searching for parking spots, reducing fuel consumption and pollution emission in a city.
  • Better productivity & convenience:
    Such a system can mitigate traffic congestion as vehicles can directly reach their reserved spots without wandering. It can help in time and energy management for drivers.
  • Additional revenues:
    Entities with parking capacity can allow consumers to reserve their parking slots and allow them to have a secondary revenue stream. Institutes such as malls, shopping complexes, universities, and sports centers can make the most out of their parking capacity.
  • Easier parking facility management

With IoT, management or parking administration can easily keep a watch over all the parking slots and would also have the complete user history stored in case of any emergency or accidents.

Want to know more?

LoRaWAN-based parking sensors are the smart investment to make when it comes to improving city daily lives with technology. If you are also considering being part of this transformation and like to know more, then reach out to us at: