Reducing traffic and pollution, making happier citizens and more cost-efficient cities

June 09, 2013 // By Ross Yu
Ross Yu, Product Marketing Manager, Dust Networks Product Group, Linear Technology Corporation explains how ultralow power sensor nodes combined with a wireless mesh network can offer a novel municipal metered parking solution.

Linear Technology’s Dust Networks wireless mesh network solution enables Streetline Networks to reliably gather the real-time status (occupied, empty or expired) of municipal metered parking spots, and use that data to reduce traffic congestion. Even in the harsh and unpredictable environment of a city street, Dust Networks

Streetline needed a wireless networking solution robust enough to function in harsh and dynamic street conditions, one that could be large and dense, and that could run for years without changing the batteries.

Dust Networks SmartMesh products, with ultralow power 802.15.4 nodes and advanced Network management, create intelligent, auto-forming and self-healing mesh networks able to run for years on two AA batteries. SmartMesh provides the robust and reliable wireless mesh network Streetline needs.

It’s estimated that 30 percent of urban traffic is caused by motorists looking for parking. In a study that measured traffic in one small district of Los Angeles, researchers found that drivers drove more than 950,000 miles, produced 730 tons of carbon dioxide and used 47,000 gallons of gas searching for parking.

The frustrations of wasted time, traffic congestion, road rage and pollution are all aggravated by the difficulty and randomness of finding an empty parking spot. Municipal parking enforcement, too, is an inefficient, labor-draining activity where finding offenders is like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack.

The solution is, of course, to collect data from individual parking spaces in real time, but this is not a simple task. Wiring each parking space for power and communications is out of the question, and so is any requirement for frequent battery changes. Therefore, the solution needs to be wireless and needs to be able to run on batteries for years at a time. Also, the city street is not kind to wireless radio transmissions. Automobiles, vans, trucks and buses present continuous and dynamic barriers which deflect, reflect and attenuate radio signals. The solution,

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