Westminster City Council is considering extending a pilot to transform congestion and parking in the West End of London using sensor technology and data analytics to up to 35,000 parking bays.

The current trial covers only 200 spaces across five locations in the borough, which use infra-red sensor technology that identifies whether or not a car is parked there. This information is then delivered to the back-end database in real –time to visualise what the occupancy rate is.

Information is then also fed to a mobile application that the Council has developed, which users can download and see in real-time where parking spaces are available.

Westminster is using Qlikview v11 to tie together the data from its underlying Microsoft infrastructure.

According to a prior information notice, the Council is now considering extending the current 200 bays to anywhere between 10,000 and 35,000. It is estimated that this could cost up to £15 million.

A spokesman for Westminster City Council said: “We have to evaluate the pilot program thoroughly before making any final decisions. We expect to complete that process before the end of the year.”

Lewis Johnson, information analyst in the parking services division at Westminster, spoke to Computerworld UK last month and explained how the Council has begun its analysis on the changes in parking behaviour.

He said: “We have started to do an analysis of the data we have from the sensors to see how many vehicles we have had through the area, how long they have stayed, and we are just putting together the applications to take in feeds.”

“Early indications suggest that some of them are starting to see a decrease in the amount of time our officers are in there having to manage the spaces, but we aren’t going to know 100 percent for a few weeks.”

So how could this information impact parking policies in the area? There are a number of options. Johnson said that tariffs could be increased in streets where there is a high turnover of vehicles and demand is high, whilst tariffs could be lowered in quiet streets – all to try and change driving behaviour.

Johnson also said: “Or if a resident’s bay isn’t heavily used during the day, we could open that up. During the night and early morning it could be residents only, but during the day it could be used for loading, visitors, paid for parking etc. This information gives us the ability to look at these things.”