How to build a real-time parking availability system?

Archer Blog - How to build a real-time parking availability system?

What can a parking operator do to get a parking space management system indicating total parking availability in real-time? We've put together an overview of how to build the solution to optimize your parking space usage and improve the efficiency of your parking operations.

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Bumper-to-bumper traffic and surface car parks packed to the gunwales are the problems well known in every metropolis. Underground parking and parking blocks are the solutions to ills but one has to know there is a vacant parking spot before making a dive into a parking structure.

Smart city concept claims momentum with its “different types of electronic data collection sensors to supply information which is used to manage assets and resources efficiently”. Prediction of parking space availability in real-time is a perfect example of smart and efficient resources management.

Smart park reservations can be beneficial both for the end-users (i.e. car drivers) and parking operators. The problem is quite challenging, yet the latest technology allows building a real-time parking space availability system, which will be the right fit for your business.

Parking management systems – then and now

The parking industry has changed a lot since smart technologies saw the light. Traditionally parking systems were built on proprietary software platforms that couldn’t connect to other systems and exchange data in real-time. Sounds a bit obsolete, doesn’t it?

In today’s world data exchange and information, retrieval is something you can’t live without. Can you name a device that is always at hand and helps to solve a variety of everyday tasks? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out it is a smartphone. The United States is one of the largest smartphone markets in the world. According to Statista, in 2017, 68.4 percent of the U.S. population uses a smartphone, and the estimate for 2018 is more than 230 million. And those millions of smartphone users download millions of apps (in fact, there were 3 800 000 of apps in leading app stores as of 1st quarter 2018) to make their lives easier.

People know they can use an app to get to the place they need. Really it’s enough to say “OK, Google” and name the point of destination to get the route including the information about road surface and traffic jams. But when you get there, will there be a place to park?

IBM’s global parking survey estimated that over 30% of traffic in a city is caused by drivers searching for a parking spot. Dynamic Information-Based Parking can be a key to this problem. A smart parking system providing parking operators with parking availability information across all parking lots and garages allows accurate estimation of the number of spaces available at any given time. The parking inventory data from back-end parking data systems can be provided to car drivers via an integrated app.

archer real-time parking availability system
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How parking inventory data are compiled?

In general, there are two ways to get real-time parking availability data – vehicle movement detection and vehicle video tracking, which imply the use of sensors and cameras.

  • Sensors

Sensors are installed at the entrance and exit points of a car park to track the number of vehicles that arrived at the garage and the number of cars that exited the parking structure. The algorithm of calculation is easy and the obtained data are fed back to the app. Every level of the multi-level parking structure and every individual parking spot can be fitted with sensors to provide accurate data about occupied and vacant spots. In the case of on-street parking sensors can be embedded in the ground.

  • Cameras

Cameras are installed on every level of the parking structure to track where vehicles are located. In this case, specialized software is needed to identify the number of vacant and occupied spots. Cameras can be also mounted on light poles or building structures if the on-street parking system is the case.




Real-time parking availability system basic components and development process

The parking inventory tracking system typically comprises several components:

  • a parking management server,
  • IoT hardware platforms (sensors and cameras),
  • and a mobile app.

Parking management server

The parking management server monitors all the parking spaces:

  • tracks the parking spot availability,
  • predicts the availability in real-time,
  • manages metering and billing for parking users.

The prediction module can use AI technology, such as neural networks, to predict parking occupancy in different areas of the city based on the historical data on the parking region.

IoT hardware

IoT hardware platform based on sensors or cameras detects the presence or absence of a vehicle. It connects parking structures to the server and transmits the data.

Mobile app

A mobile app helps the driver to find a vacant space quickly and easily by giving clear and simple directions. As a rule, such an application shows the driver a real-time view of available and taken parking spots via a simple and comprehensive interface, allows a parking space reservation, and automatically tracks billing based on the data on entering and leaving the parking space.

Location-based technology

To improve the parking experience you can use location-based technology in the app. Examples of such technology are geofencing and iBeacons. A geofence feature implemented in the app allows giving automatic alerts about how many spots are available in the lot to an app user driving into the area. iBeacons, which are low-energy Bluetooth devices, can detect an app user in the vicinity of the parking lot area and notify this user about the available parking spots.

Benefits of the smart parking system?

Real-time parking availability system development opens the door to opportunities and innovations. Modern technologies such as the Internet of Things and cloud ensure connecting parking systems with parking users.

Cloud technology allows automated sharing of information on spots availability with parkers, dynamic pricing implementation based on the parking utilization rate, and efficient parking space utilization. Smart parking reservation systems create a better customer experience and lead to lower city congestion and higher parking revenues.


Contact our team at for more information.