Vodafone uses M2M to find parking spots

Users will also be able to avoid parking tickets and get help finding their car

Vodafone has developed an intelligent parking guidance system called MyPark Space, which keeps track of available parking spots via M2M communication.

Forty percent of urban traffic congestion is caused by drivers looking for parking spaces, according to Vodafone. The carrier joined with Azeti Networks to develop the product.

Parking spaces must first be equipped with sensors and a network connection, which together can tell a cloud-based system when a space has become vacant. Using the MyPark Space app, drivers can locate a parking space close to their destination, and then hurry to snap it up. Drivers will appreciate not having to drive around looking for somewhere to park, according to Vodafone.

Once the car has been parked, users can pay for the spot with their smartphone. To avoid getting parking tickets, they will also receive a message before the parking time runs out so they can extend it without having to return to the spot. The MyPark Space app also stores the car's location.

The first pilot tests are scheduled to take place this year in major German cities, the operator said, without providing more details.

The app is a good example of what is at the heart of the M2M promise: improving a product, service or business process by connecting it, which in turn can result in increased efficiency and cost savings.

M2M is one of the big themes for Vodafone at this year's CeBIT trade show. Just like many other operators it has high hopes for the sector, as it looks for new revenue streams. To show the breadth of what can be done, Vodafone is demonstrating an energy data management system used at its Düsseldorf campus; a vehicle tracking and monitoring system; and a connected defibrillator.

By connecting the defibrillator, it becomes possible to remotely ensure that it is working properly. The device can also send an alarm with its location to emergency staff when someone has activated it.

The vehicle tracking and monitoring system allows a construction company to keep track of its diggers, for example. In addition to knowing where they are located, it is also possible to send an alarm when they leave a predefined area. Another important feature is remote vehicle maintenance, according to Stephan Horten, principal partner manager at Vodafone Global Enterprise's M2M group.

"Before you had to go out every year and do a maintenance check to see how the vehicles were doing. Now that is no longer necessary," Horten said.

Whatever data a mechanic can access via the vehicle's interface when standing the next to it, can now be accessed remotely.

"I expect [the use of M2M] to explode this year. There are really solutions for everything and often you can save a lot of money and time," Horten said.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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