With more than 30 years of experience in location and motion tracking, PNI Sensor is well known for its hardware. In developing the PlacePod®, an IoT-enabled smart parking sensor, they delivered the whole package: a complete sensor system that utilizes the machineQ LoRaWAN™ network to share data about open parking spaces in real time.
In some urban areas, drivers spend 20+ minutes per trip looking for places to park, which accounts for 30% of unnecessary city traffic (and significant driver frustration). Identifying the market opportunity for an IoT-based vehicle detection solution, PNI initially planned to simply provide the hardware components and sensors that such a system would require. However, they opted to develop the entire sensor, laying the groundwork for what would become PlacePod.
“With our deep expertise developing sensor systems for applications where a high degree of accuracy, continuous reliability, and low power consumption are required, we decided to create the entire module to address the smart parking market,” confirmed Robin Stoecker, PNI’s Director of Marketing. “machineQ was the right partner for us, and they came along at the right time.”
Following their decision to enter the smart parking market with a high-accuracy sensor, , PNI announced plans for the PlacePod at CES 2017. A conversation with Semtech, one of machineQ’s original technology partners, convinced PNI that the reliability and pervasiveness of machineQ’s dense network combined with PNI’s technology would equate to the perfect storm for smart cities. Four months later, they began rolling the product out on a city-by-city basis with a focus on population centers with an interest in smart city technology.
The PlacePod devices are installed in individual parking spaces and can identify when a vehicle is parking, parked, or absent in a particular space. The sensors are wireless, and low power, with the potential to function for up to 10 years in the field.
Upon detecting the status of a specific parking space, PlacePod sends a real-time status update to a wireless gateway, which forwards the data to third-party applications such as mobile payment, parking enforcement or traffic management systems, or to PNI’s Parking Cloud. From there, the usability of the data is near limitless – it can inform individuals attempting to park where to find open spaces, facilitate precise parking billing, alert remote law enforcement about vehicles that have overstayed their welcome, and more. Parking managers also have the capability to query the sensors remotely without sacrificing security – end-to-end AES128 bit encryption means PlacePod is highly resistant to cyber attacks.
PlacePod is uniquely positioned to benefit the trifecta of individuals, businesses, and municipalities. The solution enables individuals to enjoy a more efficient parking experience, while simultaneously providing data to manage parking resources and support precision billing by parking vendors. Municipalities benefit both from the decrease in traffic that a more efficient parking process provides, and the increase in revenue from ticketing parking violations that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
According to Stoecker, the machineQ network played a major role in PNI’s marketing strategy in the United States. “Having a secure, reliable, trusted network in place makes it easier to go to market and ensure customer success,” said Stoecker. “We can focus on our sensor technology and not worry about the network. When we approach new cities, they may not know about LoRaWAN, but they know about Comcast, which opens the door to new relationships and eliminates concerns about service and reliability.”
PNI is currently completing its latest round of product enhancements and new feature development and will continue its business development initiatives in machineQ-networked cities.
“The benefits of PlacePod go beyond simplifying the parking and enforcement processes,” said Stoecker. “When PlacePod’s parking data is shared with other city services such as traffic management, the technology can foster new economic development and drive operational efficiency, and play a significant role in the evolution of smart cities.”