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.


 

 
 
 
 

What’s in the government’s new rail strategy?

A train in the snow at Gidea Park station, east London, 2003. Image: Getty.

The UK government has published its new Strategic Vision for Rail, setting out policy on what the rail network should look like and how it is to be managed. 

The most eye-catching part of the announcement concerns plans to add new lines to the network. Citing the Campaign for Better Transport’s Expanding the Railways report, the vision highlights the role that new and reopened rail lines could play in expanding labour markets, supporting housing growth, tackling road congestion and other many other benefits.

Everyone loves a good reopening project and this ‘Beeching in reverse’ was eagerly seized on by the media. Strong, long-standing reopening campaigns like Ashington, Blyth and Tyne, Wisbech and Okehampton were name checked and will hopefully be among the first to benefit from the change in policy. 

We’ve long called for this change and are happy to welcome it. The trouble is, on its own this doesn’t get us very much further forward. The main things that stop even good schemes reaching fruition are still currently in place. Over-reliance on hard-pushed local authorities to shoulder risk in initial project development; lack of central government funding; and the labyrinthine, inflexible and extortionately expensive planning process all still need reform. That may be coming and we will be campaigning for another announcement – the Rail Upgrade Plan – to tackle those problems head-on. 

Reopenings were the most passenger-friendly part of the Vision announcement. But while sepia images of long closed rail lines were filling the news, the more significant element of the Strategic Vision actually concerns franchising reform – and here passenger input continues to be notable mainly by its absence. 

Whatever you think of franchising, it is clear the existing model faces major risks which will be worsened if there is a fall in passenger numbers or a slowdown in the wider economy. Our thought leadership programme recently set out new thinking involving different franchise models operating in different areas of the country.

The East-West Link: one of the proposed reopenings. Image: National Rail.

Positively, it seems we are heading in this direction. In operational terms, Chris Grayling’s long-held ambition for integrated management of tracks and trains became clearer with plans for much closer working between Network Rail and train operators. To a degree, the proof of the pudding will in the eating. Will the new arrangements mean fewer delays and better targeted investment? These things most certainly benefit passengers, but they need to be achieved by giving people a direct input into decisions that their fares increasingly pay for. 

The government also announced a consultation on splitting the Great Western franchise into two smaller and more manageable units, but the biggest test of the new set-up is likely to be with the East Coast franchise. Alongside the announcement of the Strategic Vision came confirmation that the current East Coast franchise is being cut short.

Rumours have been circulating for some time that East Coast was in trouble again after 2009’s contract default. The current franchise will now end in 2020 and be replaced with public-private affair involving Network Rail.


This new management model is an ideal opportunity to give passengers and communities more involvement in the railway. We will be pushing for these groups to be given a direct say in service and investment decisions, and not just through a one-off paper consultation.

Elsewhere in the Strategic Vision, there are warm words and repeated commitments to things that do matter to passenger. Ticketing reform, compensation, a new rail ombudsman, investment in improved disabled access and much else. This is all welcome and important, but is overshadowed by the problems facing franchising.

Stability and efficiency are vital – but so too is a model which offers deeper involvement and influence for passengers. With the building blocks of change now in place, the challenge for both the government and rail industry is to deliver such a vision. 

Andrew Allen is research & consultancy coordinator of the Campaign for Better Transport. This article was originally published on the campaign’s blog.

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