Krishnan: India is heading towards an employment crisis. So, on the one hand we want cost effective systems to enforce and implement parking policies and we also need to generate employment. So, how do we strike a balance between technology and people and how do we design those processes? For example, do we give a mobile app and send a fleet of traffic wardens who implement a parking policy where we keep the cost of technology down but it generates employment. Or do we need a cloud-based backend where everything is linked up and with sensor at every parking bay that can automate and eliminate the need for any human intervention or do we do something in between?
We need to balance between cost deficiency of the system, reduce the perceptuality of people involved in the system for pilferage, that is an issue in India and employment generation. So, how do you see the system coming together keeping all these factors into account?
Sachin Naik: Technology can be used in many interesting ways to solve the parking problem. There are approaches like having a capital-light model – giving the attendant a phone, he goes around scanning number plates, that gets pushed to the cloud – or the other one where you have sensors. There are optics-based approaches that can be used as backups or a secondary source of data. So, in our experience we found that most solutions in India need a layered approach, so you can’t really have one single system that is trying to do everything because it is not going to work all the time. There are going to be points of failure with a mobile app attendant, there are going to be points of failure with a sensor-based approach.
The way a layered approach helps is that if a sensor doesn’t work then an attendant can go and check whether a vehicle is there. But the bigger problem really is unless you can find the money to even put that phone in the hands of the attendant or let us assume that the attendants already have a phone, unless you have the money to build those data pipelines that go to the right people it is difficult because there is a lot of coordination required. It is important to have a single body, but it is also important for the single body to have the authority to enforce something which is another challenge. So, technology, a layered approach, combining different approaches based on the problem would be the way to go in my opinion.
– RM Alagappan
Dierk Grunzig: A study from Shell covering the US and the European market. The European market, an adaptation, can be useful for the Indian market. It is saying that young people don’t focus on cars anymore as much as the older generation used to do. So, they are using the public transport for going to the universities or to work. Later they think about to own a car again, because that is more convenient with a family. So, what we need to do is not just thinking about new parking, only about traffic, or only about public transport: we need to think holistically about a whole system. So, if we are impacting one part we must consider the conclusions on the other as well. I think it is very important.
Wilfred Menezes: I think India is in my opinion is quite different, I mean like you cannot compare one city to the other. Before we think about any system deployment first of all we need to understand the problem. It will be very hard to generalise on systems we need to follow. Talking about the on-street parking, you know there are a lot of technologies available, you can go by mobile app which is just to start with a beginning application, you can go on street parking meters, you can go for mobile payments which is called m-parking but all these systems will work when there is a good enforcement.
– Wilfred Menezes
Alagappan: I am looking at technology as a virtual platform wherein the success of that virtual platform lies with proper coordination within the ground team and the technology provider. Again technology, it is sure it is going to be a win-win situation for both the driver as well as the city authority.
As a car owner my benefits would be I know what are the options available, what are the pricing available, so I can choose as per my convenience. From the civic authority, yes, its turnover is getting increased which will directly increase the revenue. When there is an organised car parking system, the congestion can be reduced and more indirect benefits can come in.
So, technology is going to play a key role in organizing the spaces.
Harmeet Malik: Of course, without technology, we cannot move ahead in this day and age but what I have seen is technology is just implemented without actually studying the problem and that goes for a waste. There are a lot of places where the systems are put but they become redundant because they have not been customised to the locations and cities. The government spends millions of rupees on implementing technology.
There are CCTVs all over Delhi but not even 30% work. So, it is a wastage because there is no backup, and there is no follow-up. Why I am focussing on Delhi is because that is where I live. When we had the Asiad in 1972, a lot of infrastructure was built for the traffic management but that got neglected later. It was the same with the Commonwealth Games. It doesn’t work like that, it is an ongoing process, it just has to continue, you just have to keep at it and improve on technology on your infrastructure which I hope that we have woken up to.
Sachin Naik: Of course, there is the concern that new technologies like machine learning will take away lot of jobs, but there is also a possibility that it will create many new ones. So, it is important to know how we use machine learning and computer vision or image processing in the context of parking. For example, number plate detection has many benefits for security and for vehicle tracking. The third thing would be real-time parking availability.
Krishnan: It is a very important point that after we implement all these systems we need to keep them running and that is a common problem in India. Things should not be allowed to be fallen by the wayside. This is a valid concern we need to address.