In part two of his 5-part blog series examining the trends driving the future of parking, T2’s VP of Research Blake Laufer explores the Internet of Things.
Trend #1: Self-driving Cars
The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things, abbreviated as IoT, is a computing concept that describes a future where everyday physical objects will be connected to the Internet and will be able to identify themselves to other devices.
IoT is significant because an object that can represent itself digitally becomes something greater than when that object existed off the grid. No longer does the object relate just to you, but now it is connected to objects around it.
This is much, much more than having your alarm clock start your coffee maker. When many objects act in unison, they are referred to as having “ambient intelligence”. They’re not truly intelligent, but they act in a way as to make decisions that appear “smart”.
Technology research firm Gartner says 26 billion devices will be online by 2020; ABI Research puts that number at 30 billion; Cisco estimates about 50 billion. But whether it’s 26 billion or 50 billion, that’s a lot of connected devices—so does it really matter who is right?
Some people compare IoT to the origins of the microchip. Over time we saw mechanical devices replaced with digital ones. Indeed, the single-space parking meter was mechanical for 60 years before becoming an electronic device. With IoT it’s suggested that everything mechanical OR digital could become Internet-connected.
Devices like the Nest thermostat or your personal Fitbit are part of consumer IoT, but what’s the parking angle?
The Internet of Things has already started in parking, and most parking operations are already a part of it. Vendors in the parking industry now provide Internet connected meters, gates, and handhelds; vendors share data with each other via API’s; and parking operators can even use that data to direct enforcement.
Another suggestion is that IoT and the corresponding intelligence will result in devices that warn you before they will break. We already save our customers time by telling them when to service a machine, or when to empty the meter. The next step will be to sense when a device is going to fail, and send out technicians proactively.