Real-time parking space search

The Smart City System start-up is part of the first class Volkswagen Future Mobility incubator programme in Dresden. It is digitalising parking spaces in the centre of Dresden – a revolution for local transport around the city.

In partnership with the Verkehrsverbund Oberelbe (VVO) transport association, the start-up Smart City System is simplifying the search for parking spaces. Although the VVO offers commuters among other things numerous park-and-ride spaces alongside S-Bahn train services, knowing where there is a space free has been causing headaches. Even the transport association is in the dark. “We are currently checking the use of parking spaces irregularly on a random basis”, says Stefan Gerstenberg, who is a traffic planner at the VVO. Parkplätze unregelmäßig und nur stichprobenartig“, sagt Stefan Gerstenberg, der beim VVO als Verkehrsplaner arbeitet.

Starting with 200 parking spaces

To start off with, 200 parking spaces will be equipped with sensors by the end of the year. “We are almost done with the Pirna and Dürrröhrsdorf train stations. The same goes for Arnsdorf and Radeberg.” Tests have also been in full swing behind the scenes. “We are in the process of integrating the service into our website and VVO app,” says Gerstenberg. “The launch will be rolled out in two phases. Customers will be able to see the parking spaces on our ticket tool at the beginning of next year. The second step will involve integrating connection information.” In practical terms, this will mean that somebody looking up a train journey from Radeberg to Dresden, for example, will not only be shown the train connections but will also see how many park-and-ride spaces are free. “There is also additional information, such as the number of disabled parking spaces or the number of charging stations for electric vehicles,” the traffic planner explains.

This is one of our largest projects. This collaboration with the VVO is an important step towards making people more aware of the technology and getting it used in practice. Thorge Harms

Thorge Harms from Smart City System is also excited about the VVO contract: “This is one of our largest projects. This collaboration with the VVO is an important step towards making people more aware of the technology and getting it used in practice.” says the 25-year-old, who with his company has already fitted sensors to 200 parking spaces in Leipzig and 300 in Dresden. Once attached to the ground, the weatherproof sensors perform for up to five years. It is clear from the large number of enquiries that the idea is gaining interest. With the help of a development programme, the city of Dresden will fit 200 parking spaces at the airport technology centre with sensors over the coming year. Volkswagen Financial Services has also commissioned the young company to fit up to 7,000 parking spaces in multi-storey car parks with this technology in Braunschweig. Ceiling sensors will initially be tested for this project.

Supermarkets also interested in this technology

Along with the goal of guiding drivers to free parking spaces, the founders of Smart City System have found another application for their technology. “We are now working with numerous supermarket chains and digitalising their parking spaces.” This includes the Lidl supermarket on Pirnaischen Platz in Dresden. The supermarkets have one more reason than the VVO to want this technology: “Supermarkets want to have an overview of parking space occupancy. They want to know if anyone is parking there for more than an hour,” Thorge Harms explains.