The mobility problem
Who hasn’t been circling the block searching for that free parking spot? Drivers in big cities spend an average of 20 minutes hunting for a parking space , making parking one of the most inefficient daily activities. This inefficiency has big consequences:
- 30% of urban traffic is generated by drivers parking 
- +50 hours of time wasted per driver, annually 
- The time and fuel wasted cost consumers and local economies nearly $600M per year 
- Carbon dioxide emissions are significant. a study found that drivers in a 15 block district in Los Angeles produced 730 tons of CO2 searching for parking 
And this is only going to get worse going forward. Bill Ford, Executive Chairman of Ford Motors, warned in 2011 that “the freedom of mobility is being threatened”, since the world fleet of 800 million cars will grow to 2-4 billion by 2050, when 75% of the population will live in cities. This will lead to a “global gridlock”, which “will stifle economic growth and our ability to deliver food and healthcare”. The solution to this challenge is not to build more roads, but to develop smart roads, smart public transportation, and smart parking, Ford thinks. 
The solution: FastPark
Worldsensing is a company that develops Internet of Things (IoT) solutions to improve mobility and industrial activities such as mining or oil and gas exploration. The company’s Mobility branch includes an intelligent parking systems for Smart Cities called FastPark, which helps drivers find parking spaces more quickly and empowers cities to manage their parking resources more effectively. 
- FastPark locates vacant parking spaces using a sensorial network and then sends the information to drivers via smart phone apps or electronic street panels.
- Drivers will be able to save time and fuel, reducing traffic and CO2 emissions
- Motorists using the FastPark mobile app will be able to pay the parking meter from their smartphones
- Fastprk also facilitates 24/7 monitoring and management of parking bays by local authorities using real-time occupancy and payment information. This data can be used by local authorities for many purposes, such as:
- Dynamic pricing of meters
- Higher utilization of parking spaces, since drivers spend less time searching for parking
- Enforcement of parking regulation, detecting vehicles that have overpassed the time limit or those without special parking permits
- Optimized use of human resources. The system increases the number of cars per hour that each enforcement officer can handle
FastPark uses magnetic sensors installed in each parking space to accurately detect the presence of vehicles. Sensor information is sent to the gateways wirelessly. The gateways then aggregate the data from several sensors and send it to the database servers.
This information is then used to monitor and manage on street parking and it is also shared with drivers using a “probability map”: using algorithms, FastPark defines the probability of a parking space being free when a particular driver reaches the spot.
FastPark’s flexible operating model
FastPark’s operating and revenue model may be different in each city.
- In terms of asset ownership, FastPark can either own the sensorial network, the information and the servers (being vertically integrated), or it can sell all the equipment and just provide a build & maintain service.
- In terms of customers served, FastPark is a two-sided platform that can either share its data with the drivers, the local authorities, or both sides of the supply and demand.
For example, in Moscow FastPark sold +12,000 sensors to the city hall, whereas in Barcelona FastPark owns the sensorial network and shares the information with both the local authorities and the drivers.
Going forward: threats and Opportunities
Continuous innovation in the mobility sector can be both a threat and an opportunity. Autonomous cars will reduce the need for parking spaces, threatening FastPark’s business model. On the other hand, drones and video-recognition technology may enable FastPark to more efficiently monitor parking.
Besides being alert on technological innovations, FastPark should explore additional uses of its sensorial network. Future steps may include:
- Use FastPark’s already deployed gateways to accumulate and send information collected by light, noise or water sensors that are being deployed in smart cities. Worldsensing could become the IoT platform and strategic partner for smart cities.
- Partner with local businesses to exploit the parking data. For example, shops could offer coupons to drivers who have parked near their stores.
- Use gateways to detect pedestrian traffic. This information can be sold to real estate companies: high traffic areas could have higher leases.
Worldsensing and its solution FastPark are a step forward in the challenge of making mobility more efficient through digitalization. But will this kind of initiatives be enough to avoid the “global gridlock” Bill Ford predicts?
 IBM Global Parking Survey, September 28, 2011, https://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/35515.wss#release (accessed November 16, 2016)
 Donald C. Shoup, Cruising for Parking, http://shoup.bol.ucla.edu/Cruising.pdf
Department of Urban Planning, University of California, Los Angeles, July 24, 2006
 Frost & Sullivan, Strategic Analysis of Smart Parking Market in Europe and North America, April 9, 2015
 IBM and Streetline Address One of the Great Unsolved City Problems: Parking, September 2011, http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/35514.wss (accessed November 16, 2016)
 Bill Ford, A future beyond traffic gridlock, TED Talks, March 2011, http://www.ted.com/talks/bill_ford_a_future_beyond_traffic_gridlock#t-466336
 http://www.worldsensing.com (accessed November 16, 2016)