Assessing Parking-Related Technologies to Increase Resilience for the Lambeth Council’s Parking and Enforcement Department

Sponsor: Lambeth London Borough Council  
Sponsor Liaison: Jonathan Pook
Student Team: Rafaello Adler-Abramo, Jeffrey Huang, Andrew Plourde, Jackson Powell
Abstract: The London Borough of Lambeth suffers from poor air quality and congested roads, and high parking demand is a major cause for these two severe problems. The goal of our project was to inform the Lambeth Council how smart parking apps, dynamic pricing, and autonomous vehicles may affect their ability to provide effective parking services. We interviewed Council employees, researched how future technologies may affect the borough and its parking services, and surveyed users of Lambeth’s parking services to gauge how the public might react to these technologies. We recommended the Lambeth Council collect occupancy data for smart parking systems, explore opportunities for conducting dynamic pricing trials, and publish public status reports on parking services.
Link: Lambeth_Final_Report

Executive Summary

Air pollution is the second largest public health concern in London, contributing to approximately 64,000 deaths in 2015 (Matthews-King, 2019). Lambeth’s Brixton Road has the highest level of air pollution of any road in London, exceeding the annual legal limit for air pollution in only 6 days in 2017 (Cockburn, 2019). In 2017, London was the worst city in the UK for parking, which contributes 30% of traffic congestion and is a considerable source of poor air quality (London Councils, 2018; Williams, 2017; Zhang and Batterman, 2013).

The Lambeth Council has been developing strategies to address these problems of congestion and air pollution and has signed onto the Positive Parking Agenda (PPA), an initiative by the British Parking Association to raise parking standards and improve the public’s understanding of parking management (Positive Parking Agenda, n.d.). To meet these standards and improve their parking and enforcement management, the Lambeth Council must understand how technology may develop to pose opportunities and threats for their services.

The goal of this project was to evaluate how parking-related technologies may affect the efforts of the Lambeth Council’s Parking and Enforcement Department to advance the Positive Parking Agenda during the next 20 years. To identify elements of the Council’s parking and enforcement services for advancing the PPA, we interviewed Council employees about current strengths and weaknesses of and goals for their parking services. We researched smart parking apps, dynamic pricing, and autonomous vehicles (AVs) to list and describe ways these parking-related technologies might affect parking and enforcement services in the short-, medium-, and long-term future. Additionally, we surveyed parking professionals and users of Lambeth’s parking services about potential developments of these three technologies and their views about Lambeth’s parking and enforcement services. Finally, we synthesized our findings to help the Lambeth Council identify opportunities and challenges for advancing the PPA that smart parking apps, dynamic pricing, and autonomous vehicles may present.

Core concerns for the Lambeth Council’s services are environmental sustainability, public perception and quality of service, and strategies and performance of their operations. Since Lambeth faces high amounts of traffic congestion and air pollution, environmental sustainability was a major concern for how services could help mitigate these problems. Multiple interviewees also mentioned the diverse demographics in Lambeth and the current poor perception of services, leading to further discussion about how the Council could implement services that are fair and accessible to everyone in the borough. Additionally, many interviews noted considerations for how effectively services provided revenue, used resources efficiently, and carried out various strategies for collaborating with other boroughs to improve their services.

Currently, Lambeth Council is transitioning to mobile parking payment applications. In the next five years, these applications could include smarter services such as parking navigation and reservation. Such features could potentially reduce traffic congestion and air pollution by minimizing time spent searching for a parking space (Leslie, 2014). Another possible benefit is increased efficiency in the deployment of civil enforcement officers (CEOs) by using smart parking application data or sensor occupancy information to guide CEOs to illegally parked cars (SFpark, 2014). Smart parking apps could also reduce illegal parking and parking fine revenue for the Council (Gautam, 2018b).

Within 5-10 years, Lambeth Council may be able to implement dynamic pricing to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution if they can collect adequate amounts of parking space occupancy data (Xerox, 2011). In San Francisco’s trials of dynamic pricing, traffic volume decreased by 8%, time to park decreased by 43%, and greenhouse emissions decreased by 30% (SFpark, 2014). Dynamic pricing may also increase revenue as Justpark, a dynamic pricing solution company, reported an average increase in revenue of 20% when implementing their system (Justpark, n.d). However, public perception of dynamic pricing is less clear as adjusting prices of parking could both positively and negatively affect certain drivers (SFpark, 2014).

Due to obstacles of cost, cybersecurity, and regulations, it may take 10-20 years for fully autonomous vehicles (AVs) to significantly influence parking services. If AVs can efficiently and automatically find parking they may reduce traffic congestion and increase efficiency as drivers won’t need to search for parking. AVs may also reduce the demand for curbside parking as they may only need to drop off passengers, causing the Council to lose parking revenue but allowing the Council to repurpose curbs for other uses that could provide revenue (Litman, 2019). Revenue may further decrease if AVs follow all traffic and parking regulations, however, the decrease in illegal parking would improve safety and efficiency of traffic (Morillo & Campos, 2014).

Based on our findings from research, interviews, and questionnaire results, we recommend that the Lambeth Council:

  1. Improve current parking infrastructure to meet data collection demands for future smart parking technologies such as smart parking apps, to provide accurate information to guide drivers to parking spaces efficiently.
  2. Consult with parking authorities that have conducted dynamic pricing trials to understand best practices for testing dynamic pricing. Dynamic pricing has yielded promising results for advancing the PPA by reducing congestion and improving air quality. However, implementing a successful large-scale model may be difficult due to the different priorities of many different stakeholders.
  3. Follow BPA parking data standards for collecting and sharing data with other boroughs. A unified system across boroughs will allow drivers to move through boroughs and experience consistent services. Additionally, such consistency may enable features of technology that advance the PPA, such as AVs following local traffic and parking regulations.
  4. Promote shared AV mobility options in areas with less access to public transit to provide last-mile offerings to complement public transit and reduce private vehicle ownership.
  5. Publish an annual parking report to increase transparency and improve public perception of Lambeth Council’s goals and projects for parking and enforcement services. An annual parking report would include parking statistics and objectives for improving parking services, and through publication, public perception may improve due to transparency of Council motivations and support for better parking management.


Parking and enforcement services help address traffic problems, such as congestion and air pollution, and help the community by improving road safety and managing the use of curbside spaces and urban areas. Our project explored how smart parking apps, dynamic pricing, and autonomous vehicles could affect the Lambeth Council’s parking and enforcement services, in regard to both the opportunities and threats for the service and its perception by the public.
Innovations and developments in technology are a driving force for change in society, and London must form a united effort across its boroughs in order for parking and enforcement to adapt effectively to these advancements and provide satisfactory services for the public. We provided the Lambeth Council with in-depth future-oriented analysis on smart parking apps, dynamic pricing, and autonomous vehicles for their potential effects on parking services and a model to track and explore other technologies for opportunities and threats to parking and enforcement.