Here’s how Comarch’s intelligent parking information system will transform Krakow

The sensors at work. Image: Zarząd Dróg Miejskich.

In just a few months, the Polish city of Kraków will be using a new parking information system, based on Comarch's Smart Parking solution. The new system will monitor four streets in the city's very centre, and provide live information about free parking places via mobile apps and local informatioin boards.

The project has been commissioned by Miejska Infrastruktura, the municipal department for urban infrastructure. Initially, it will cover parking places in the Paid Parking Zone (PPZ) along the following streets: Szlak, Warszawska, Ogrodowa, and Matejki Square (an extension of Warszawska Street).

But information on free places will ultimately be available for the entire PPZ, and for other city car parks, including the one located near the Korona sporting arena, and the underground car park next to the National Museum. In the future, the information system will even connect to other city car parks, the planned Park & Ride car parks, and those of other operators, too.

The science part

The project involves the installation of 284 wireless sensors and two information boards, as well as the provision of the mobile applications running on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Once complete, the system will collect information on availability of places on a 24-7 basis, to inform drivers in real time about the number of free car park places.

The solution is supplemented by a management and analytical platform that will monitor the functioning of the infrastructure that makes up the system. Miejska Infrastruktura will also be able to obtain analytical data in the form of reports and summaries of key indicators and statistics on utilisation of car park places. All this will help the department to make decisions concerning the city's parking policy.

“Towns more and more rely on smart city solutions that enhance both the quality of life of inhabitants, and their safety,” says Comarch’s sales director Barbara Waszkiewicz. She added that the firm’s smart parking solution means that “the time needed to find a free car park place will be shortened – which will result in less intensive traffic in the area.

Krakow is not the first Polish city to install a Comarch IT solution that monitors the number of free car park places in a town: just a few weeks ago, Warsaw adopted a similar system. “The fact that the two largest cities in Poland have decided to have a Comarch system proves that it meets expectations of local-government authorities” says Waszkiewicz, “also those of city inhabitants. Facilitated finding of a parking space is convenient for drivers, and a chance to reduce pollution produced by cars.”

The menu of Comarch's smart parking app.

The firm has has invested intensively in its car parking solutions, explains Product Manager, Comarch Smart City product manager Wojciech Dec. As a result, it can now offer a system that combines multiple methods of detecting the occupancy of car park places.

“Kraków's system is based on sensors,” says Dec. “Nonetheless, the Comarch Smart Parking platform allows connecting solutions that also utilise other detection methods, for example, using cameras and smart video analytics. We combine these two methods of recognising free car park places, adjusting the system to specific expectations of our clients.”

And the technology is still developing. “We have great hopes for a solution that is based on smart video analytics that,” Dec notes. Besides highlighting free car park places, this would allow monitoring of whether drivers were complying with regulations – detecting cars left in prohibited places, those blocking tramway lines, or left on pavements, grass lawns, or bicycle paths.

It would also improve safety in public space. “The solution is innovative and meets with growing interests on Polish and foreign markets,” Dec concludes. “The software is continuously developed and we hope that increasingly more drivers will use it on a daily basis.”

Comarch has more than 20 years of experience in helping global companies to achieve higher profitability, and understands the importance of changes taking place in contemporary cities. Its state-of-the art technologies, geolocation with micro-navigation, multi-channel access to the Internet and the growing needs of users, have made it both possible and necessary for the firm to design a comprehensive solution that combines an individual approach to clients, strategic planning and advanced analytical capabilities.

You can find out more here.


 

 
 
 
 

The Thessaloniki dig problem: How can Greece build anything when it’s swarming with archaeologists?

Archaeological finds on display in an Athens metro station. Image: Gary Hartley.

It’s fair to say that the ancient isn’t much of a novelty in Greece. Almost every building site quickly becomes an archaeological site – it’s hard to spin a tight 360 in Athens without a reminder of ancient civilisation, even where the city is at its ugliest.

The country’s modern cities, recent interlopers above the topsoil, serve as fascinating grounds for debates that are not just about protecting the ancient, but what exactly to do with it once it’s been protected.

The matter-of-fact presentation that comes with the many, many discoveries illustrates the point. Athens often opts to display things more or less where they were found, making metro stations a network of museums that would probably take pride of place in most other capitals. If you’re into the casual presentation of the evocative, it doesn’t get much better than the toy dog on wheels in Acropolis station.

That’s not even close to the extent of what’s available to cast an eye over as you go about your day. There are ruins just inside the city centre’s flagship Zara store, visible through the glass floor and fringed by clothes racks; Roman baths next to a park cafe; an ancient road and cemetery in an under-used square near Omonia, the city’s down-at-heel centre point.

Ruins in Zara. Image: Gary Hartley.

There is undoubtedly something special about stumbling upon the beauty of the Ancients more or less where it’s always been, rather than over-curated and corralled into purpose-built spaces, beside postcards for sale. Not that there isn’t plenty of that approach too – but Greece offers such sheer abundance that you’ll always get at least part of the history of the people, offered up for the people, with no charge attached.

While the archaic and the modern can sit side by side with grace and charm, economic pressures are raising an altogether more gritty side to the balancing act. The hard press of international lenders for the commercialisation and privatisation of Greek assets is perhaps the combustible issue of the moment – but archaeology is proving something of a brake on the speed of the great sell-off.

The latest case in point is the development of Elliniko – a site where the city’s decrepit former airport and a good portion of the 2004 Olympic Games complex sits, along the coastal stretch dubbed the Athens Riviera. With support from China and Abu Dhabi, luxury hotels and apartments, malls and a wholesale re-landscaping of several square kilometres of coastline are planned.

By all accounts the bulldozers are ready to roll, but when a whole city’s hovering above its classical roots, getting an international, multi-faceted construction job off the ground promises to be tricky – even when it’s worth €8bn.


And so it’s proved. After much political push and shove over the last few weeks, 30 hectares of the 620-hectare plot have now been declared of historical interest by the country’s Central Archaeological Council. This probably means the development will continue, but only after considerable delays, and under the watchful eye of archaeologists.

It would be too easy to create a magical-realist fantasy of the Ancient Greeks counterpunching against the attacks of unrestrained capital. The truth is, even infrastructure projects funded with domestic public money run into the scowling spirits of history.

Thessaloniki’s Metro system, due for completion next year, has proved to be a series of profound accidental excavations – or, in the immortal words of the boss of Attiko Metro A.E., the company in charge of the project, “problems of the past”.

The most wonderful such ‘problem’ to be revealed is the Decumanus Maximus, the main avenue of the Byzantine city – complete with only the world’s second example of a square paved with marble. Add to that hundreds of thousands of artefacts, including incredibly well-preserved jewellery, and you’ve a hell of a haul.

Once again, the solution that everyone has finally agreed on is to emulate the Athens approach – making museums of the new metro stations. (Things have moved on from early suggestions that finds should be removed and stored at an ex-army camp miles from where they were unearthed.)

There are other problems. Government departments have laid off many of their experts, and the number of archaeologists employed at sites of interest has been minimised. Non-profit organisations have had their own financial struggles. All of this has aroused international as well as local concern, a case in point being the U.S. government’s renewal of Memorandums of Understanding with the Greek state in recent years over protection of “cultural property”.

But cuts in Greece are hardly a new thing: lack of government funding has become almost accepted across society. And when an obvious target for ire recedes, the public often needs to find a new one.

Roman baths in Athens. Image: Gary Hartley.

Archaeologists are increasingly finding themselves to be that target – and in the midst of high-stakes projects, it’s extremely hard to win an argument. If they rush an excavation to allow the quickest possible completion, they’re seen as reckless. If they need more time, they’re blamed for holding up progress. 

Another widely-told but possibly-apocryphal tale illustrates this current problem. During the construction of the Athens Metro, a construction worker was so frustrated by the perceived dawdling of archaeologists that he bought a cheap imitation amphora in a gift shop, smashed it up and scattered the fragments on site. The worthless pieces were painstakingly removed and analysed.

True or not, does this tale really prove any point about archaeologists? Not really. They’re generally a pragmatic bunch, simply wanting to keep relics intact and not get too embroiled in messy public debates.

It also doesn’t truly reflect mainstream attitudes to cultural capital. By and large, it’s highly valued for its own sake here. And while discoveries and delays may be ripe for satire, having history’s hoard on your doorstep offers inconveniences worth enduring. It’s also recognised that, since tourists are not just here for the blue skies, good food and beaches, it’s an important money-maker.

Nonetheless, glass malls and shiny towers with coastal views rising from public land are good for the purse, too – and the gains are more immediate. As the Greek state continues its relentless quest for inward investment, tensions are all but guaranteed in the coming years. 

This is a country that has seen so many epic battles in its time it has become a thing of cliché and oiled-up Hollywood depiction. But the latest struggle, between rapacious modernity and the buried past, could well be the most telling yet. 

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