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Smart Parking System (SPS) Architecture Using Ultrasonic Detector

Smart Parking System (SPS) Architecture Using Ultrasonic Detector

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Time and cost are two important factors of human life, whether for an individual or a
business. As quality of life increases, more and more people are inhabiting cities. Urban life
requires centralized public facilities. Shopping complexes are an important point of interest
both for a city's inhabitants as well as for visitors. With the emergence of modern shopping
complexes which provide a variety of services, more and more people are attracted to visit
them. Hence, more shop owners prefer to locate their business in shopping complexes to
target more customers and increase revenue [1].
Recently, shopping complexes have begun providing services much more diverse than just
pure selling and buying. Customers can use banking services, post offices, food courts,
cinemas, children's play areas, and so on. The growth of shopping malls has influenced
shopping culture and behavior. For instance, in Malaysia window-shopping, or visiting
shopping complexes simply for looking rather than buying, is a common activity [2].
Providing sufficient parking for visitors is one of the main issues in developing shopping
complexes. Offering safe and secure parking lots with a sufficient number of spaces and
paying attention to handicapped drivers are a few of the factors which can increase customer
loyalty and attract customers to visit a shopping mall more frequently. Among the various
types of parking lots are multilevel parking, roadside, roadside with ticket and barrier gate
and roadside with parking meter; of these, the multilevel parking lot is the most preferred by
patrons [3]. Safety, weather conditions, proximity and car park fees respectively are the main
factors by which patrons choose a specific parking lot. Hence, multilevel parking lots are preferred, and for this reason were selected as the parking lot type for this study. SPS detects
car park occupancy through ultrasonic sensors which are located above each parking space.
Vacant, occupied, handicapped or reserved spaces are indicated by different colors of LEDs.
"Improper parking" is the situation in which one car is parked straddling two vacant spaces
and occupies both. Detection of improper parking and providing directions to vacant spaces
and payment facilities are other services offered by SPS.
The objectives of this study are to highlight parking lots’ importance, indicate the difficulty
drivers have in parking their vehicles at shopping complexes, propose an applicable solution
to solve the aforementioned problems, and outline an SPS architecture design. This paper is
organized as follows: the introduction details the importance of shopping complexes and
parking lots. Part 2 discusses current parking lot problems and the difficulties that customers
encounter in parking lots. Section 3 explains detection technology and compares ultrasonic
sensors with other types of detectors. Section 4 gives a system overview and the features of
SPS. Section 5 outlines SPS architecture and the devices required to implement it. Finally,
the last section offers conclusions and discusses current research

Difficulty in Finding Vacant Spaces

Quickly finding a vacant space in a multilevel parking lot is difficult if not impossible,
especially on weekends or public holidays. One study showed that 86% of drivers face
difficulty in finding a parking space in multilevel parking lots [3]. Finding spaces during
weekends or public holidays can take more than 10 minutes for about 66% of visitors.
Stadiums or shopping malls are crowded at peak periods, and difficulty in finding vacant slots
at these places is a major problem for customers [4]. Insufficient car park spaces \ lead to
traffic congestion and driver frustration [5].

Improper Parking

If a car is parked in such a way that it occupies two parking slots rather than one, this is
called improper parking. Improper parking can happen when a driver is not careful about
another driver’s rights. Sometimes improper parking occurs when a driver parks on or a bit
outside of the lines of a parking space. The driver may notice his improper parking after
leaving his car, but may not be willing to unlock his car, restart it, and adjust it to be inside
the lines. This matter annoys other drivers and most of the time a driver who wants to park in
a small leftover slot will give up and feel frustrated. Figure1 presents an improper parking

SPS User Overview

In order to find vacant spaces, drivers look at an LED display board which shows how
many and which type of vacant spaces are available at each level at that time. After
navigating to the desired parking level, drivers look at internal signs hanging from the ceiling
at the end of each aisle. Each internal sign shows two parts: the number of available spaces
and the direction (left, right or forward) of the aisle which has a vacant space. Each individual
parking space is equipped with LED lights which are located above the space and can show
green, red, blue or yellow. The color indicates the status of that space: green means the space
is vacant, red means the space is occupied, blue means the space is assigned for handicapped
drivers and yellow means it has been booked or is a VIP or reserved space for specific
reasons. When a driver enters a vacant space, the green light changes to red. Figure 3 shows
the four steps of utilizing a car park guidance system.

SPS Technical Overview

Our proposed SPS detection system is based on ultrasonic sensors. For each individual car
park, this would require one sensor fixed on the ceiling above each parking space. Ultrasonic
sensors work based on echo-location. The sensor transmits a sound, which hits a solid object
(car or ground) and is reflected back to the sensor. The time between the sent pulse and the
returned echo is used to calculate distance. In a vacant space, the time between transmitted
sound and reflection is longer than in an occupied space, hence the sensor can detect when a
space is occupied. Figure 4 illustrates how it works.

LED lights can be attached to the detector sensor or mounted separately. SPS uses a
separate LED indicator to be more flexible and make it possible to fix both pieces at the best
position. The LED and the sensor connect to each other through a phone cable. When the
indicator displays green, it means the parking space is available; when the indicator displays
red, it means the space is occupied. In case of a handicapped parking space, a blue LED
indicates vacancy and red indicates occupancy. Reserved spaces are identified by a yellow
LED. Figure 5 shows two LED indicators, red and green.

SPS Features

Smart Parking System (SPS) consists of main and secondary features for different purposes
and situations. Some of the features mentioned in this paper will be part of future research.
The main features of SPS are:
 Detect occupancy status of each individual space in a multilevel parking lot.
 Display the number of available spaces at entrance of parking lot, at entrance to each
level, and at end of each aisle.
 Display directional signage for each aisle, showing drivers which direction has vacant
 Parking monitoring and management software to coordinate and operate the various
 Display different colored LED lights to differentiate between spaces (reserved,
occupied, vacant or handicapped)
 Touch’n’Go module to facilitate payment of parking fees.
 Assign space beside each directional sign for advertising purposes.
 Line detection system to avoid improper parking.
Business logos are shown on the directional signage board, as shown in Figure 6.

System Architecture

To develop the SPS architecture several pieces of equipment are required: ultrasonic
sensors, LED indicators, indoor display boards, outdoor display board(s), zone control unit
(ZCU), central control unit (CCU), network switch, telephone cable and management
software. The ultrasonic detector transmits its status message through a phone cable to the
zone control unit (ZCU), which collects and forwards the information to the central control
unit (CCU) through Cat5 cables. The CCU processes the data and sends commands to the
ZCU and LED panel. The ZCU is the middle layer of SPS and is responsible for controlling
the ultrasonic detectors. Each ZCU manages a group of 40 to 60 ultrasonic detectors, sending the relevant information to the CCU. The ZCU connects through an RS-485 port to the indoor
display board and ultrasonic sensors and communicates with the CCU through network
switch and LAN connections. The CCU is responsible for the collection of parking space
information and for processing data for the whole parking lot. The CCU transmits commands
to the LED display board to update the parking space information. Simultaneously, collected
data can be saved in the parking lot server’s database which will allow a supervisor to
monitor, manage and control parking lot information. Each CCU can support around 40 to 60
nodes, include ZCU(s) and outdoor display board(s). For a more efficient system, it is
recommended that a maximum of 40 nodes be connected to each ZCU and each CCU. Figure
7 shows a prototype of a complete SPS.


The main contribution of this study is to introduce the most significant parking problem —
i.e., finding an empty space — and propose a solution. Ultrasonic sensors can be used both
for parking space detection and improper parking detection. The proposed architecture for a
parking detection system would decrease searching time for vacant spaces and reduce
instances of single cars improperly parking across two spaces. Future research might examine
car park booking procedures and optimization of sensor usage. Cost effectiveness and
marketing could be studied as well.

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