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ZigBee System Makes Parking Smarter in Spain

Libelium has released a smart parking solution enabling cities to use Waspmotes to detect the presence of cars in parking spaces, and to transmit that status to a server that both commuters and the city can access.
By Claire Swedberg
Jun 09, 2011This month, Spanish wireless communications hardware firm Libelium released a smart-parking system that employs wireless sensors in parking spaces to transmit data indicating whether or not a particular space is occupied. The solution is designed to help cities or parking authorities manage parking and share information with commuters regarding which spaces are available at any given time.

The solution consists of a wireless mesh network of Waspmotes—Libelium's sensor device that detects the presence or absence of a vehicle, and then transmits that data accordingly—which can either be buried in a parking space or mounted on poles or lampposts, to serve as a repeater. This summer, the motes are being tested by the Spanish city of Santander as part of a €1 million ($1.5 million) wireless technology project. The project, known as SmartSantander, is being managed by a consortium of companies, universities and research institutes, in order to test Internet-based technologies on a citywide scale.

Libelium's Smart Parking wireless sensor
Libelium sells its sensor motes for detecting and transmitting sensory data for a variety of industries, including agriculture, health and logistics. Smart Parking is the latest addition to those solutions, and is part of Libelium's Smart Cities system. The Waspmotes, which consist of a magnetic sensor, a battery, a ZigBee 2.4 GHz 802.15.4 radio transmitter and an antenna, are enclosed in a PVC container buried at the surface level of the road at each parking space, according to Javier Solobera, Libelium's sales engineer. A plastic cover on top of the container is watertight, but allows access to the device in the event that it requires a battery replacement or repair.

The Waspmote wakes up at regular intervals (typically every few seconds). If a car has parked over the mote, the magnetic sensor detects a large quantity of metal, thereby indicating the presence of a motor vehicle. The mote then transmits its own unique ID number, as well as the new status—in this case, the vehicle's presence. The transmission can be received by repeaters installed on poles or other aboveground locations, or by other buried Waspmotes, via the ZigBee connection. A router then transmits the parking data over a GPRS connection to a server, which can be hosted by a city, a parking authority or a third party. The routers can also send data to a back-end server via Wi-Fi.

Commuters searching for a parking space can sign onto the server using a cell phone or some other Internet connection, and the server then displays a map of the area in which the commuter seeks to park, or offers lists of locations in which parking spaces are available.

The mote sensors can also detect when a car leaves a parking space, and forward that new status along with its unique identifier.

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