A new AI-based platform can help reduce congestion in cities by offering demand-responsive pricing and cheaper public transport
Spotted: Inadequate parking is the bane of many cities, both large and small. Having ample parking discourages people from using public transportation, adding to congestion and pollution. But a lack of parking can also discourage people from coming into city and town centres at all and makes deliveries difficult. Now, a trial project is using AI to help cities get the balance just right.
The project is being led by Fetch.ai and blockchain company Datarella and is currently undergoing a trial in a parking garage in Munich. The goal is to use AI to change the cost of parking in real-time, based on where and when people chose to park. The AI-powered platform links to cameras placed in parking garages and includes an app that drivers can use to automatically book spaces when they know they need to drive. The system then analyses the available spaces and sets prices.
However, the platform can also inform drivers of available spaces farther from their destination, and price those at cheaper rates to encourage their use. When demand is particularly high, the app will recommend the driver use public transport instead, providing them with free or reduced-cost public transport passes.
Fetch.ai CEO Humayun Sheikh explains: “It could say okay if you park closer, you’re going to be charged more; if you park farther away, you’ll be charged less. We reward you for doing certain actions and we discourage you from doing certain actions.” The idea is that setting the cost of parking to reflect scarcity will reduce driving. Similar, demand-responsive pricing systems in other cities have been shown to reduce both vehicle miles and greenhouse emissions.
It is harder than it sounds to convince people to reduce their driving and take public transportation instead. But the future of cities may well depend on reducing driving. This may be why we are seeing more innovations aimed at improving the sustainability of cities. Recently, these have included novel bicycle parking boxes and an Ikea store that has no parking places.
Written By: Lisa Magloff