Greek Island Brings IoT Intelligence to Parking

Published: December 18, 2023

Paros is rolling out a LoRaWAN based solution from Cicicom using Actility’s software to help citizens find parking, alert police to parking violations

When tourists descend on the iconic Greek island of Paros each summer, they bring or rent cars, and that creates a unique parking challenge as both vacationers and permanent residents must vie for the limited parking spaces available in the popular vacation spot.

To solve the problem, the island has deployed Actility internet of technology (IoT) technology to bring a view and intelligence to each parking space.

The island’s parking authority has been working with Cicicom Ltd, to deploy a long range wide area network (LoRaWAN) based network of parking sensors, and software to manage the data, as well as apps to share relevant information to the public and to traffic control officers. Actility provides the network server.

LoRaWAN IoT Connectivity Management

The parking management application is the first in what could be many use cases that could benefit life on the island, making it what the technology companies call Europe’s first smart island.

The solution is based on a LoRaWAN digital infrastructure, says Angelos Kapsimalis, Cicicom’s project manager.

Cicicom is an Athens-based software solutions company founded in 2012. In recent years, the company developed IoT-based mobile apps and monitoring platform, and transitioned to include hardware such as wireless sensors. Its sensors are used for parking as well as smart water metering and other applications.

Greek Island Tourist Destination

Paros, in the central Aegean Sea, is a popular destination for tourists from around the world, with beaches, wineries, ancient ruins, castles and Byzantine churches.

While the island has a population of just 14,000 permanent residents, every summer more than half a million people visit the island on vacation. Tourists come by ferry, and many either bring a car with them or rent one when they arrive.

The result is that available parking can be scarce not only for tourists but locals. While spaces come with a one-hour limit, many drivers park long beyond that maximum. With only a few people on staff to monitor that cars don’t stay too long, or stay after their payment expired, the island needed a better solution.

“Locals are very dissatisfied during the summer months and because they can’t monitor their situation effectively, they have a loss in municipality revenues,” explains Kapsimalis.

Intelligence for Finding Parking

Technology could not only help identify cars parked without paying or beyond their maximum time, but help drivers find a spot.

With the solution from Cicicom, each of the 150 spaces near the port of Parikia is equipped with one of Cicicom’s S-LG-13 devices that comes with three sensors to confirm the presence of a vehicle. That includes a magnetic sensor to detect metal above it, as well as motion detector and nano radar to better capture the activity and movement in the space.

The sensor uses a LoRa radio to transmit the data back to Actility’s ThingPark Enterprise platform, via area LoRaWAN gateways. That data can be viewed by city parking authorities in real-time and trigger alerts based on activities such as an unauthorized parking event.

Apps for Drivers and Police

The solution comes with two mobile apps. One is a citizen app that detects the user’s location, leverages parking sensor data to identify the nearest available space, and send wayfinding functionality to the app user.

The app can them guide the user to that spot based on GPS data.

Additionally, the app allows the user to pay for their parking, and receive a notice when their parking time is set to expire. It can enable users to renew their space by paying for more time. Currently, the Paros parking limit is 30 minutes or one hour, after which drivers can pay for an additional 30 or 60 minutes after their time has expired.

“They don’t really want the vehicle to stay for long periods of time,” due to the shortage of parking, Kapsimalis says.

Enforcement Use

The dedicated police app is used by officers who are responsible for managing parking on Paros. The app can alert the officer if a vehicle has outstayed its allotted time at a specific space or is unauthorized to park there. They can then be directed to that space.

The Cicicom sensor comes with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) functionality that can be used to detect BLE beacon tags used in some cars. Such tags can be placed in the car’s glove box and can identify a driver who has special permission to park at certain spaces, such as those for disabled drivers only.

In the case of a restricted space, if the system detects a car parked at that space without the correct identification tag, an alert is then forwarded to police using the app.

Win/Win for Community and Drivers

Currently, the parking solution consists of sensors deployed at 150 paid parking spaces. Those spaces were chosen as part of the first phase of the system roll out, due to their location near the port, and at the heart of the busy downtown area.

The benefits of the technology are likely to be multi-fold, Cicicom predicts. It is expected to increase revenue by ensuring drivers do not remain in spaces they haven’t paid for.

Additionally, the system will reduce labor hours for the island’s municipal police since they won’t have to walk around parking areas reading meters, but instead simply receive a notification of each violation, with directions to the offending vehicle. That feature also enabled officers to respond more quickly to a violation.

For tourists and citizens, the system should mean less time searching for parking. “It’s a win-win situation for the municipality and for the citizens in general,” states Kapsimalis.

With the network already deployed, the technology can also be used for other applications, such as water metering, if IoT water meter sensors were attached at water customer sites.

Key Takeaways:
  • Paros is using LoRaWAN IoT technology to track 150 high demand parking spaces in its downtown, port area.
  • In the long term, the system may be deployed across the island, and expanded to other applications.