In Toulouse Parking Spaces Turn Seductive

Venus and Toulouse are co-starring in an unlikely techno seduction set to benefit motorists by saving fuel and time and councils by boosting parking cash flow.

Lyberta's MD with his smartphone showing a vacant parking space in Toulouse

From this week the planet Venus and the city of Toulouse have at least one thing in common — intelligent landing spots – deployed for space ships in the case of Venus and vehicles for Toulouse.

Thanks to Lyberta, a small Toulouse startup with a suggestive name, vacant parking spots in the car-clogged city centre of France’s 4th largest city will shortly send seductively enticing billets doux to passing motorists.

An SMS along the lines of “Cherie, I’m lonely, can we get acquainted” will hit a passing motorist’s Smartphone, as parking spaces troll their wares and then once the bait is taken, use the same channel to collect the charges due for the parking dalliance.

According to research produced for Lyberta, some 700 million hours or the equivalent of 600 million euros, are lost each year by motorists in French cities searching for somewhere to park the car, making the advantages of the parking spot that comes to you, as it were,  highly attractive even romantic.

By way of  a bonus the local authorities that install the system will, claim Lyberta, enjoy a better return on their parking bay estate; motorists will pay only for the time they actually spend rather than the arbitrary time bands currently allotted by parking meters; and councils get their cash from the occupied parking bay the moment the motorist enters it, thanks to a Smartphone link with a user’s bank account –(similar to the Télépéage express system on the French motorway network).

Developed in conjunction with the French space agency, CNES- Centre National des Etudes Spatiales (that’s the Venus link, CNES technology was conceived for detecting landing pads for spaceships headed for the planet) and Toulouse-based start-up company, Lyberta, Toulouse has completed testing a system that can, on a motorist’s Smartphone, display parking spaces available in those parts of the city equipped with under-surface sensors.

Undersurface magnetic sensor in an empty parking spot seduces passing cars with an "I'm alone" message.

The sytem works via interlinked under street surface sensors that communicate through RFIP magnetically detecting nearby vehicles and transmitting their vacant status in real time to the motorist via GPS technology.

The idea of a simple technology solution capable of telling motorists where they can find a vacant parking spot is attracting attention from traffic clogged cities worldwide and the invention and the city of Toulouse has just been awarded a prize by the 10th world meeting of Parkopolis in Paris for this innovative intelligent parking system – a world first.

As the developer Patrick Givanovitch, director and founder of Lyberta keeps repeating “today, only 27% of parking spaces in cities are paid for”. In his view his Venus smart docking derivative will thus greatly boost car parking revenues for local authorities while also saving on fuel bills for motorists.

See a video of how it works: Lyberta on TF1 on Vimeo.

Alexandre Marciel, deputy mayor of Toulouse, told French News Online the “Statio-Lib” as it is known, provides real time information via special sensors buried under the city’s parking spots, about vacant metered parking around the city and guides motorists, looking for a place, by streaming data to their Smartphone. Payment for the parking place is made by a direct debit against the bank account of the Smartphone user or in the case of regular users, by a token fitted in the vehicle which debits parking in real time from user accounts.

“This is a tool that increases receipts for local authorities,” says Patrick Givanovitch. His company has plans to “install about a hundred parking spaces and magnetic badges inside cars in Toulouse, by December 2011.” He said the Lyberta system successfully completed a Toulouse pilot last June. Apart from other benefits, municipalities will also be able to control abuses, such as people parking for too long on free spaces intended for short-term parking, or on the spaces intended for doctors or disabled people.

Paris, Nice, Casablanca, Prague, Bratislava and San Francisco are among other cities where drivers might soon be guided by mobile phone to a smooth landing in the closest parking spot but the seductive side of the technique will remain resolutely French.

Story: Ken Pottinger

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5 Responses to In Toulouse Parking Spaces Turn Seductive

  1. Rudi June 21, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Great story about Lyberta, great idea. Please put it here in Philadephia.

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