Optimizing parking in the busiest places

Data-analytics platform helps parking managers meet driver demand in high-traffic areas

October 17, 2016

by Rob Matheson, MIT News Office

Many businesses in the financial, technology, and other industries have used data analytics for years to monitor and maximize profits. But there’s been no such technology for the traditional parking industry — which has scores of data sitting idle in ticket machines, digital meters, and other places.

Now, MIT spinout Smarking is bringing data analytics to the parking industry. It aims to help parking managers keep their spots filled at all hours, and, potentially, to reduce the time drivers spend circling the block looking for that ideal space.

Co-founded by Wen Sang PhD ’14 and Maokai Lin PhD ’14, Smarking has developed a data-analytics platform that crunches available parking data to help parking managers monitor spaces and revenue in real-time. By pulling in data on external factors such as weather and events, the platform also predicts future demand, so managers can optimize staffing and adjust pricing to boost revenue.

Down the road, Sang says, the platform could also benefit drivers: As parking managers of cities, universities, airports, and other locations gain better understanding of demand, he says, they can better optimize distribution and pricing of parking. More optimized parking in busy areas means less time drivers spend search for parking, which should reduce carbon emissions and cut traffic congestion. Indeed, Donald Shoup, an urban planning professor at the University of California at Los Angeles and well-known “parking guru,” has estimated that searching for parking spaces causes 30 percent of traffic congestion in cities.

Read the full article on the MIT News website.