How BMW And Parkmobile Are Using Big Data And IoT To Change The Way We Park Our Cars – Forbes

Learning to live with, let alone prosper from, the widespread changes being brought about by technology, sometimes requires changes in behavior on our part.

Smart homes, for example, don’t simply mean we don’t have to remember to switch the lights on and off or set our IoT thermostats. We have to learn how to set up automation programs and sometimes make changes to our habits to accommodate sensors and new control interfaces. The benefits can be huge, in terms of energy savings or enhanced security, but it isn’t always as simple as plugging it all in, and carrying on with your life in a slightly more convenient way.

MUNICH, GERMANY – JUNE 08: The BMW i8 Futurism Edition is seen during a presentation on June 8, 2016 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Joerg Koch/Getty Images)

Parkmobile’s CEO John Ziglar told me that the deal between his company and BMW – which will see the application integrated into the head unit of new vehicles – aims to change how we think about parking. The average driver spends 20 to 30 minutes looking for a parking space when visiting a city they are unfamiliar with. Not only is this an inefficient use of time, it has financial and environmental consequences we could all do without.

“My goal is that in three years’ time, not a single driver gets into their car without knowing where their car will come to rest at the end of their journey – I don’t believe that’s an unachievable thing,” Zigar tells me.

Improving consumer visibility

The key to achieving this will be the “visibility” that an online, real-time overview of parking at any destination, will come from a network such as Parkmobile – which operates in 250 cities and 22 airports across the US, as well as major sports and concert venues.

Just as services such as Uber provide new levels of visibility to taxi customers, who can see who their driver will be before they arrive and track their location as they approach, drivers need to know what is available and at what cost before they start their journey in order to minimise disruption and inefficiency when they arrive.

“As people start to realise there are solutions to solve these problems, I believe it will become engrained in their habits, but we need to educate people on the availability of those solutions,” Ziglar reasons, “and those kinds of changes can happen very quickly.”

In order to provide accurate models of available parking in a given area, Parkmobile relies on a huge amount of data, some gathered from parking service providers themselves, and others from third parties. While their own coverage – Parkmobile is the exclusive provider of online payment services at on-street, municipal spaces in 39 US cities – provides a lot of the necessary data, there are gaps which need to be filled.

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