Can driver behaviour be reliably simulated when searching for parking?

Research developed by a Ph.D. student has resulted in a computer simulator that will hopefully help drive greater efficiency in parking.

Nadav Levy, from Tel Aviv University’s Porter School of Environmental Science, along with his supervisors, Prof. Itzhak Benenson of the Department of Geography and the Human Environment and Dr. Karel Martens of Holland’s Radboud University, have built a simulator that models the real-life parking challenges of a particular district or city, identifying different strategies for improvement and testing the impact of new policies before they are implemented on the roads.

The simulator, called PARKAGENT, takes into account real parking policies, drivers, and parking inspectors for an exact replication of any given city, including roads, buildings, and parking lots. Recently published in the journal Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, the software has already been put to the test, evaluating the potential impact of parking policy changes in Israel and Europe.

The software assesses key values such as drivers’ cruising time, how long they park for, and the distance from the parking space to their destination. Levy analyzes the resulting data to determine whether a policy would decrease the time the drivers would spend to find a parking place near the destination.

With researchers estimating that up to 30 percent of cars driving in the centre of a city at peak hours are looking for parking, Levy’s model may assist in taking a big step towards reducing unnecessary congestion, wasted fuel, pollution and noise.

A more detailed overview of Levy’s work can be found here.

Nadav attended the recent World Parking Symposium in Canada (June 2011) and presented a prototype of his program to the attendees. He can be seen second from the left in the photograph above, with people from left to right:

Shawn Conrad (Executive Director, IPI0), Nadav Levy (Tel Aviv University), Carine Abrahamsson and Gustaf Grapengiesser (Swedish Traffic & Public Transport Authority), Cristina Lynn (Parking & Traffic Consultants), Maurice Anderson (President WPS) and Sjoerd Stienstra (Stienstra Adviesbureau stedelijk verkeer).

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