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IoT Apps Streamline Parking Analytics

In 1157, the duke of Bavaria, Henry the Lion, allowed a Benedictine monastery to create a marketplace. A medieval village gradually grew out of the marketplace, eventually becoming the modern city that today we know as Munich, Germany, or München—“home of the monks.”

Many cities that were established in medieval Europe and still operate in the 21st century present special problems for builders. Precise and accurate data is required when attempting to reconcile the city’s overall layout and architectural limits with modern day demands, especially with regards to transportation and security.

Founded in 2019 in Munich, Peter Park offers monitoring and administrative services to garage facility managers and owners, operating in more than 50 different sites throughout Germany and logging in more than 25,000 transactions every day. Beyond monitoring vehicle activity and digitizing the majority of parking lot workflows—including handling payments and managing parking permits—the company also provides software as a service for parking facility operators.

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One of the most commonly used systems Peter Park offers is license plate recognition (LPR) software, which can connect with other digital services such as payment apps. The LPR platform monitors when vehicles enter and exit a parking facility, and operators can use the platform to quickly determine how long a vehicle has been parked and the amount the driver will be charged.

However, the system demands dedicated IP surveillance cameras solely running LPR programs. So, if a client wants both LPR monitoring plus people counting or another form of analytics at the same entrance, multiple IP cameras are needed—each with its own specific software programs and licensing fees.

The company recognized the challenges this presented—increased overhead for their clients, potential placement issues with running multiple cameras in the same area, etc.—and began searching for a solution that would allow a single camera to run various functions and simultaneously feed multiple applications.

Peter Park soon found Security & Safety Things, provider of an Internet of Things (IoT) platform billed as an app store for IP cameras. Perhaps it helped that Security & Safety Things is also headquartered in Munich.

Stefan Schenk, chief business development officer for Peter Park, says that, in a nutshell, the platform allows clients to keep their existing IP cameras while giving them access to a bigger pool of applications.

The IoT platform enables the camera’s hardware and software to operate independent of one another. Through the platform, the feed and information from a single camera’s views can be used on several different computer vision applications. That works because the platform is based on the Android Open Source Project. This in turn allows facility owners and managers the flexibility to test out an array of different applications to respond to their sites’ changing needs without committing to new hardware.

Clients can experiment with different apps in the platform for optimized solutions that are individual to each facility, adds Peter Park CEO and Cofounder Maximilian Schlereth. While one customer prefers using an LPR app to measure a parking lot’s occupancy rates, another may find that a vehicle-counting app is more intuitive in achieving the same goal.

“We are thinking about how to manage all our occupancy detection and analytics because we have some customers who have really emphasized that this is important,” Schenk says, especially for users in Munich or other cities that date back to medieval times.

For clients in retail or similar industries, measuring peak occupancy rates over a longer period can help developers plan for changes or expansions that could streamline their business prior to breaking ground for another parking lot or garage.

“We’re talking about Europe here, and space is very limited,” Schlereth explains, especially for very densely populated and historic city centers. Ultimately, these decisions can have significant economic impacts—individual parking spaces can cost from €2,000 ($2,300) to €6,000 ($7,000) to build in an inner-city area. “This is not just something for them to play around with; it’s really about making a rational, economically wise decision here.”

Schenk also points to the platform’s user-friendly interface, which saves clients valuable time because the intuitive system does not require any specialized knowledge or advanced training to navigate.

Beyond the current analytics and surveillance offered through the platform, Schenk notes that the company’s relationship with Security & Safety Things also allows for a kind of bespoke production process. Essentially, if Peter Park finds a demand among its clients that the existing apps cannot meet, Security & Safety Things can reach out to developers and see if someone can create or has already created a solution to meet that need.

Further down the road, Peter Park executives say they hope this will lead to a way to create a surveillance system with a customer service interface, which could be useful in an emergency in larger parking facilities.

For example, Schlereth says if someone were to fall or was otherwise injured in a garage’s staircase or other isolated area—regardless of the time of day and how many other people are in the facility—a customer service representative with access to the surveillance system could initiate a call to emergency services.

As a stopgap measure, Peter Park hopes to develop a facilitywide warning signal that can call for the assistance of anyone close by until staff or emergency responders can arrive.

But for now, customer services integrated into the platform primarily assist drivers on various issues, such as visitors who might not remember whether they paid before leaving the garage, by reviewing surveillance footage. LPR software also informs the representative exactly when a driver entered and the exact amount of his or her parking fee.

For more information, contact Fabio Marti: [email protected]

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