SWARCO Traffic has installed a new parking guidance and management solution to reduce congestion and improve the driver experience throughout Ipswich. Ipswich has several public car parks throughout the town centre and by the waterfront that can become extremely busy, especially during peak times. However, during its Parking Strategy review, Ipswich Borough Council identified inefficiencies in the existing process.
Tony Gillings, Project Manager at SWARCO Traffic, says the main issue was co-ordinating traffic management: “Drivers were struggling to find available parking spaces, which led them to circulate through the town in search of somewhere to park, causing unwanted congestion and air pollution,” he explains. “Ultimately a solution was needed to improve the driver experience through clear communication that also reduced congestion.”
Working in close partnership with the council, SWARCO took a holistic approach, delivering a solution that encompasses both hardware and management software to meet their needs. In terms of technology, SWARCO has installed five Variable Messaging Signs (VMS) throughout the town centre to display clear space availability arrows, featuring the number of free spaces in green or displaying ‘full’ in red. This enables drivers to clearly see whether spaces are available or not in a particular car park from a distance and take the appropriate, safe course of action.
The energy-efficient VMS can also be utilised to display any image or text and can therefore be utilised for multiple purposes, including providing parking and traffic flow information, safety announcements, and to clearly telling drivers and visitors of any events, maintenance works or road closures in and around the town.
Intelligent data is sent to the signs by a series of integrated car park counters, control cabinets and Inductive Loops that record all vehicles entering and leaving a car park. It means the data and status of the car parks are presented in real time via SWARCO’s cloud-based remote management system, enabling the council to better manage parking availability and traffic flow.
Clifford Oladun, Parking Services Manager for Ipswich Borough Council, says “These signs are helping people see where car parking is available when they are on their way into town. They are there to help people get quickly to where they want to go, and this is part of the work the Council are doing to make the town centre even more attractive and to assist the increasing number of those travelling to the centre of Ipswich. These signs have also been installed for their environmental benefits of reducing journeys and making air quality better.”