Spotting illegal parking with video analytics

Andrea Sorri

Vehicles parked in the red zone are a pain in the best-case scenario, and a serious danger to other road users in the worst, but Smart Cities have the potential to identify and tackle the issue quickly, preventing accidents and traffic jams.

We have seen a growing trend of cities becoming “smarter”, solving everyday problems with help of IoT devices, and now that 5G is finally on the horizon, the topic is hotter than ever. The superior levels of connectivity offered by this technology promise a future where sensors will make it easier to regulate every aspect of a city, from its energy consumption to the regulation of its roads.

Mobility solutions already help law enforcement corps in many tasks; for example, by automatically detecting an accident or recognizing and recording the license plate and patterns of free flowing traffic. The same technology of precise surveillance cameras, combined with powerful video analytics, can be used to detect cars parked in red zones, and automatically send an alert to the police or the security personnel of the affected premises.

Double parked carYou might think that illegally parked cars are more of a nuisance than a danger, but actually they pose a number of different security threats. For example, the car may block a section of the road, which means for other vehicles to pass is either very difficult or even impossible, which in turn means the creation of traffic congestion, which again raises the chances of an accident happening.

An even more dangerous case would occur in a scenario where the car in the red zone blocks the view of vehicles and pedestrians. This increases the risk of other road users not seeing whether it’s safe to cross the road or make that turn. Finally, parking in front of hospitals or police stations, in a way that blocks passage for ambulances and other first responders’ vehicles, can actually cost lives.

The longer a vehicle is parked illegally, the greater the risks of accidents. That is why it’s so important to have a solution that automatically notifies law enforcement, who can then act quickly to remove the problem.

Identify and resolve

To understand how this technology works, let’s take a typical scenario of an unauthorized vehicle occupying a space dedicated to other users, for example a bus stop. Instead of pulling over next to the pavement, now the bus is forced to stop in the middle of the lane, making the passage difficult for other vehicles. And if this happens during rush hour, an already heavy traffic flow can exacerbate into a block.

Cars blocking loading zoneInstead of having to wait for someone to signal the disruption, a camera can quickly detect the vehicle through a sophisticated analytics software. If a violation is recognized, law enforcement is automatically alerted and can take steps to solve the situation before it escalates; on top of that, if the camera is connected to a horn speaker, this feature can be used to automatically play an announcement like “You’re parking in a prohibited zone”. Recorded audios often function as a good deterrent, warning the potential offenders that they’re being watched.

As well as city surveillance and law enforcement, the technology can also be applied by airports, stadiums, property owners and critical infrastructure to boost their security and quickly detect potential intruders.

Long term benefits

Avoiding accidents and traffic jams is just the tip of the iceberg. Solutions that tackle illegal parking have a positive impact on multiple levels. On one instance, a better traffic flow means more satisfied, less stressed citizens. Also, the method is efficient – thanks to the automation capabilities – and affordable, as it utilizes the existing CCTV infrastructure and helps the city collect more fees for parking violation. Finally, this kind of solution can lead to a positive change in road users´ traffic behavior over time, making the roads safer and more secure for everyone.

As mentioned before, the rolling out of 5G technology will make the implementation of smart solutions much simpler for cities. Enabling quicker and more connected networks, in the long term 5G will create safer cities for everyone; parking surveillance is just another dowel in this evolving mosaic.

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AXIS Parking Violation Detection