What is Free-Flow Parking?
Free-flow parking, also known as CameraPark or camera parking, is the term for a parking process that completely dispenses with barriers or other physical barriers. Instead, the arrival and departure times of vehicles are automatically recorded via license plate recognition. Entry and exit are therefore fluid, as car drivers do not have to stop to take a ticket upon entry.
An ideal parking process with this parking solution looks something like this: a driver who has installed an app with a free-flow function on his smartphone drives into a parking area equipped with cameras for license plate recognition. The time of entry is automatically recorded via license plate recognition and communicated to the parking app. The driver exits his vehicle, enjoys his stay in the city, gets back into his car at the end, and drives away from the parking area. The license plate recognition system now communicates the end of the parking process and the app. The amount to be paid is automatically billed.
How Does Free-Flow Parking Work?
A distinction is made between two variants of free-flow parking processes
- The automatic process
- The semi-automatic process
Which type of flow is possible at a specific location is indicated by the signage on site.
Automatic Sequence of Free-Flow Parking
In an automatic parking process, cameras record the license plate number as the vehicle enters the parking area or parking garage. As soon as the license plate is captured, the app used automatically starts the parking process. The parking process ends automatically as soon as the license plate is detected again by the cameras when the vehicle leaves the parking area. A prerequisite for the fully automated parking process is the activation of the free-flow function in the app.
The Free-Flow feature is offered by parking apps such as Parkster and Easy Park. The Parkster app, for example, refers to the Free-Flow option as "Automatic Camera Parking" in the menu. The user activates it by selecting their license plate, sliding the slider to the right, and confirming.
Semi-Automatic Sequence of Free-Flow Parking
Even during a semi-automatic free-flow parking process, the license plate number is recorded by cameras when entering a parking area. The difference with the automatic process is that the driver starts the parking process manually in the app after entering the parking area and ends it again before exiting. The billing of parking fees, therefore, relates to the period between the manual start and the completion of the parking process in the app.
How Is Free-Flow Parking Used In Practice?
An example from Upper Bavaria shows how the free-flow process not only improves the parking experience for parkers but also prevents backups and thus contributes to the efficient management of traffic flow in city centers. The city of Traunstein is now relying on Free-Flow. Together with Peter Park and the parking app Parkster, a fully automated concept was developed and implemented.
In June 2022, the underground parking garage of the city hall was retrofitted and put into operation with the new free-flow system. The underground parking garage spans four floors and is equipped with 200 parking spaces. Enough to provide space and comfort for employees and visitors alike.
Implementation of the System
Peter Park provided two scanners for license plate recognition and two vending machines for conventional payment of the parking process, The parking process is carried out by barrier-free entry and exit through the fully automated license plate recognition. A two-sided real-time LED board in the outdoor area indicates available parking spaces. Viewing all data as well as managing and activating long-term parkers is done via an intelligent dashboard and is additionally possible via digital activation via tablet directly in the city hall. The system from Peter Park is also linked to the Parkster app to guarantee a seamless operation. By integrating the two systems, both an automatic and a semi-automatic free-flow parking process is possible.
Advantages of Free-Flow Parking for Traunstein's City Center
The barrier-free parking system makes the parking experience much more pleasant for Traunstein's residents. Waiting times in front of parking barriers and traffic jams when entering and exiting the parking lot are now a thing of the past, speeding up the parking process.
For the city, the digital parking system also results in significant cost savings by eliminating the need for high-maintenance and vulnerable barrier systems. The automated tracking processes save the municipality's employees time and manual effort.
The environment also benefits: The free-flow system saves a lot of paper in the long term, thus avoiding unnecessary waste. By avoiding backlogs, CO2 emissions are also reduced.
Resonance of the City of Traunstein and Parkster
The city of Traunstein has the best experience with free-flow parking: "Thanks to digital parking, we are a big step closer to digitizing our administration. Municipal parking management can play a central role in optimally managing traffic and making cities more attractive. Barrier-free parking not only offers our citizens a new, improved parking experience but additionally focuses on efficiency and quality of life." says Christian Hümmer, mayor of Traunstein.
Patrik Lundberg, Managing Director of Parkster GmbH, is very satisfied with the cooperation with Peter Park: "I am very pleased that we are taking digital parking to a new level by working with partners like Peter Park, who are pioneers in the digitalization of off-street parking spaces. Thanks to the integration of the Peter Park system solution and the Parkster app, the parking experience for drivers has never been so convenient and easy."
The Free-Flow concept has many advantages. Parking processes are simplified and the parking process is much faster and more efficient, as the automated payment process saves customers from having to go to the pay station and stop in front of a parking barrier. Parking operators benefit from Frow-Flow parking systems because manual time, maintenance, and personnel costs are saved.
Peter Park is a digital parking system that eliminates the need for parking tickets, barriers, and parking discs. Peter Park System GmbH transforms parking lots into mobility hubs by providing parking lot operators and municipalities with automatic license plate recognition and cloud-based management software. The system from Munich was launched in 2019 and is already available in Germany and Austria.