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.


 

 
 
 
 

Worried Guildford will be destroyed by Chinese trains? Then you might not be very nice

A South West Train at Waterloo. Image: Getty.

Despite the collapse of everything else that more-or-less worked in 2008 Britain, before the Hunger Games years began, some things remain constant. One of the things that’s near-mathematical in its constancy is that, when a new train contract is let, people on both sides of the political spectrum will say extremely stupid things for perceived partisan advantage.

This week saw the award of the contract to run trains to the south west of London, and unsurprisingly, the saying stupid things lobby was out in force. Oddly – perhaps a Corbyn-Brexit trend – the saying of egregiously stupid racist lies, rather than moderately stupid things, was most pronounced on the left.

As we’ve done to death here: rail in Great Britain is publicly run. The rail infrastructure is 100 per cent publicly owned, and train operators operate on government contracts, apart from a few weird anomalies. Some physical trains are owned by private investors, but to claim rail isn’t publicly run would be like claiming the NHS was the same as American healthcare because some hospital buildings are maintained by construction firms.

Every seven years or so, companies bid for the right to pay the UK government to operate trains in a particular area. This is the standard procedure: for railways that are lossmaking but community-important, or where they are within a major city and have no important external connections, or where there’s a major infrastructure project going on that’ll ruin everything, special measures take place.

The South Western England franchise is not one of these. It’s a profitable set of train routes which doesn’t quite live up to its name. Although it inherited a few Devon and Dorset routes from the old days, its day job involves transporting hundreds of thousands of Reginald Perrins and Mark Corrigans from London’s outer suburbs and Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire’s satellite towns to the grinding misery of desk jobs that pay a great deal of money.

(If your office is in the actual City of London, a fair trek from the railway’s Waterloo terminus, then you get the extra fun of an extra daily trip on the silliest and smelliest Tube line, and you get even more money still.)

Anyway. The South Western concession went up for auction, and Scottish bus and train operator First Group won out over Scottish bus and train operator Stagecoach, the latter of which had run the franchise for the preceding 20 years. (Yes, I know 20 isn’t a multiple of 7. Don’t ask me to explain, because I can and you wouldn’t enjoy it.)

First will manage the introduction of a bunch of new trains, which will be paid for by other people, and will pay the government £2.2bn in premiums for being allowed to run the service.

One might expect the reaction to this to be quite muted, because it’s quite a boring story. “The government does quite a good deal under which there’ll be more trains, it’ll be paid lots of money, and this will ultimately be paid back by well-paid people paying more train fares.” But these are not normal times.


First Group has decided for the purposes of this franchise to team up with MTR, which operates Hong Kong’s extremely good metro railway. MTR has a 30 per cent share in the combined business, and will presumably help advise First Group about how to run good metro railways, in exchange for taking a cut of the profits (which, for UK train franchises, tend to be about 3 per cent of total revenue).

The RMT, famous for being the least sensible or survival-oriented union in the UK since the National Union of Mineworkers, has taken exception to a Hong Kong company being involved in the railways, since in their Brexity, curly sandwich-eating eyes, only decent honest British Rail has ever delivered good railways anywhere in the world.

“A foreign state operator, in this case the Chinese state, is set to make a killing at the British taxpayers’ expense,” the RMT’s General Secretary Mick Cash said in a press release.

This is not true. Partly that's because a 30 per cent share of those 3 per cent profits is less than 1 per cent of total revenues, so hardly making a killing. Mostly, though, it’s because it’s misleading to call MTR “state-owned”. While it’s majority owned by the Hong Kong government (not the same body as the central Chinese state), it’s also partly listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. More to the point, this a really odd way of describing a transport authority controlled by a devolved body. I wouldn’t call the Glasgow subway “UK-state owned” either.

So this fuss is intensely, ridiculously stupid.

There’s an argument – it’s a bad argument, but it exists – that the entire UK rail system should be properly privatised without government subsidy.

There’s an argument – it’s a slightly less stupid argument, but it exists – that the entire UK rail system should be returned to the public sector so we can enjoy the glory days of British Rail again.

The glory days of British Rail, illustrated in passenger numbers. Image: AbsolutelyPureMilk/Wikipedia.

But to claim that the problem is neither of these things, but rather that the companies who are operating trains on the publicly run network are partially foreign owned, makes you sound like a blithering xenophobe.

In fact, if you think it’s reasonable for a Scottish company to run trains but not for a Hong Kong company to run them, then that's me being pretty bloody polite all things considered.

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