Project Supports East Africa’s Emerging Smart Parking Market
Smart parking is slowly becoming a popular movement for some of the cities in Africa. A few parking industry entrepreneurs and companies are seizing the opportunity to introduce the latest technology that simplifies the art of car parking by making it easier and faster.
Although South Africa still takes the lead in the uptake of smart parking solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa, East Africa could be the next major smart parking market in the region. Cities such as Nairobi have recently unveiled car projects that are fitted with technology that combines parking access control systems, parking guidance solutions, and electric vehicle charging slots.
Recently, One Park Avenue, a modern high-rise building located at the Junction of 1st Parklands Avenue and Limuru Road in Nairobi’s Parklands area, was completed. It includes a car parking silo that successfully combines, under one roof, both the desire of the property developer to achieve green credentials; as well as meeting the parking needs of the different categories of motorists who will require various services available in the building.
The developer has provided car parking space in the ratio of three parking bays for every 100 square meters to accommodate the needs of tenants, bank customers and other visitors. This is a major boost for a region where off-street smart parking is at its infancy and now opening investment opportunities for both local and international parking investors.
The building has been described by the owner as “very innovative” and its car parking facility has been designed to support the sustainability concept in multi-story buildings. This idea is gaining traction in many Sub-Saharan Africa cities where demand for on-street parking outstrips supply.
“The bank was looking for a modern parking system that can aid all the various kind of customers, guests and drivers who visit its latest high-tech and green building, One Park Avenue,” says Angel Sanchez de Movellan, Regional Manager for HUB Parking Technology, who was involved in fitting the building’s parking facility with modern car parking technology.
“Taking into account the multiple levels of parking in the building, and the client’s (I&M Bank) requirements, the parking facility has been designed to create separate parking slots for the building’s tenants, the bank employees and visitors - either visiting tenants or those seeking bank services,” he said.
Although the parking slots are separated according to target customers, the One Park Avenue’s new parking facility has embraced the use of parking Internet of Things (loT) management system that not only allows access, but also identifies and alerts drivers of free and occupied spaces. This is made possible through aggregation of sensor data that is then interpreted into readable images showing occupancy state of all the building’s parking lots.
One Park Avenue’s parking system has been completed with Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology, which enhances the security of the vehicles and drivers.
The technology “captures logs of each car that enters and exits the building, using the license plate as a unique vehicle ID and also acts an access control mechanism wherein registered vehicles have a seamless passage through the barriers, thus eliminating queuing time,” Movellan explains.
The advantage of using ANPR technology in modern car on-street and off-street parking is because it “is reliable and fast”. And because ticket and license plate matches are made at entry and exit points, the technology supports a free-flow access that reduces queuing time, “making drivers more comfortable in these trying times where safety is a must.”
The aggregated data that is collected via ANPR technology is organized into customized reports such as occupancy by week, by day, by hour rate and exit details.
The One Park Avenue carpark utilizes Janus Management System. The system eases operation of the parking facility by enabling the recording of all license plates, the associated pictures and data relevant to each entry and exit.
Furthermore, data collected via the JMS “is actionable information about drivers, as allowed by applicable laws, and which parking facility operators can analyze to target and enhance their marketing efforts.”
The completed project’s built environment promotes green credentials with its integrated photovoltaic glass installations, perhaps the first in East and Central Africa.
The One Park Avenue project is an attempt, although not the only one so far, by the private sector in Africa, with support of conducive government investment policy, to support the evolving idea of smart cities in the continent.
Due to limited expansion space in most cities, such as Nairobi, property developers and city planners hope that the use of modern technology to improve existing infrastructure will enable them create more smart parking space to accommodate increasing car numbers.
For example, the Catholic Church Cathedral and Basilica in Nairobi, which is also the headquarters of Archdiocese of Nairobi, in early 2020 commissioned its new underground parking of four basement levels with 536 parking slots.
The parking facility, which uses automated system of payment and selection of parking bays, has been fitted with smart parking solution from Nairobi-based Paytech Ltd, a technology and service provider for payment and revenue collection solutions in the transportation and retail sectors.
The parking facilities at both Nairobi’s One Park Avenue and Catholic Church Cathedral and Basilica, could be yet another indicator of the growing appreciation of smart parking solutions in the still under-explored East African car parking market.
Shem Oirere is Parking Today’s on the ground reporter in Africa. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.