Belfast's 'smart' loading zones 'help improve parking spaces'

  • Belfast City Council’s has launched a ‘Smart Belfast’ pilot project, which aims to tackle urban transport delivery and parking challenges using a new PARKUNLOAD® app.

    The app enables drivers to ‘check in’ to smart loading zones and electric vehicle (EV) charge points. The council said this helps manage loading zones and other restricted parking spaces, using IoT (Internet of Things) devices and mobile applications.

    The digital platform is currently being piloted at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust’s Musgrave Park and City Hospital sites. Belfast City Council said that using the app to identify parking slots and pre book space is “improving use of space available, making deliveries more efficient and helping to prevent congestion.”

    The council also stated that the average parking time at the EV spaces has been significantly reduced to just two hours, making it more freely available to other EV drivers.

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    Alderman Brian Kingston, Chair of the council’s Strategic and Policy Resources Committee said: “Like cities across the globe, Belfast is beginning to experience an increase in traffic and congestion as online shopping becomes more popular. We need to balance the needs of businesses and our residents while, at the same time, look after our environment.

    “The wealth of innovation and lessons gained from this pilot present real opportunity to reduce congestion, improve air quality and make city centre deliveries safer. We’re delighted the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust is working with us on this pilot and it’s great that users of EV spaces and loading bays are taking part in the trial to create innovative solutions that can improve city life”.

    This pilot project is part of the ‘Last Mile Delivery Challenge’ competition, a joint venture between Belfast City Council, Dublin City Council and Enterprise Ireland. The competition has made €230,000 SBIR (Small Business Innovative Research) available to find smart, low cost solutions to optimise goods and package deliveries in cities.

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    A number of SMEs applied to the SBRI competition and PARKUNLOAD® is one of nine companies receiving funding to research and develop their proposed solution.

    The trial at the Belfast Trust sites finishes at the end of February 2020 and EV parking users are encouraged to take part.

    For more information on the Last Mile Delivery Challenge and Smart Belfast, visit www.smartbelfast.city

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