Belfast City Council has begun a pilot project using a mobile app to support ‘smart parking’ for goods vehicles.
It has begun to test the Parkunload app – equipped with a new ‘smart parking button’ interface – at the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust’s Musgrave Park and City Hospital sites.
It is the latest initiative in the council’s Smart Belfast programme and uses a digital platform to manage loading zones and other restricted parking spaces using internet of things devices.
The app was developed by a Spanish based IT and services company, also named Parkunload, and the pilot is being run with funding from the Last Mile Delivery Challenge, a joint venture between the council, Dublin City Council and Enterprise Island aimed at optimising the delivery of goods and packages in cities.
It enables users to identify vacant parking slots and pre-book space, which the council said can make deliveries more efficient and help to prevent congestion. It added that the average parking time in electric vehicle charging spaces has been reduced to two hours, which makes them more freely available to other EV drivers.
Alderman Brian Kingston, chair of the council’s strategic and policy resources committee, said: “Like cities across the globe, Belfast is beginning to experience an increase in traffic and congestion as online shopping becomes more popular. We need to balance the needs of businesses and our residents while, at the same time, look after our environment.
“The wealth of innovation and lessons gained from this pilot present real opportunities to reduce congestion, improve air quality and make city centre deliveries safer. We’re delighted the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust is working with us on this pilot and it’s great that users of EV spaces and loading bays are taking part in the trial to create innovative solutions that can improve city life”.
Parkunload’s chief executive officer Carles Sentis added that the drivers of the trust’s goods vehicle fleet are among the first in the world to test the smart parking button interface on the app.
Belfast City Council said the pilot will run until the end of this month, following which its lessons will be fed into citywide policy.
Image: Carles Sentis and Simon Hayes from Parkunload with Brian Kingston at the launch of the pilot