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Award-winning program creates 'vehicle turnover and more parking opportunities'

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A program designed to clamp down on unlawful parking has won a national award.

The Sunshine Coast Council initiative, dubbed ParkSmart, was acknowledged with the ‘On-street Excellence in Technology and Innovation’ award at the 2023 Parking Industry Awards recently held in Sydney.

The program is designed to ensure drivers abide by the rules at car parks around the region, including at a busy school and in several public car parks.

Buderim Mountain State School Parents and Citizens Association last year approached council for assistance to tackle their parking challenges.

Council teamed up with SenSen Networks, an innovator in sensor artificial intelligence (AI) solutions, to install AI cameras into key parking signs around the school.

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Council customer and planning services group executive Debra Robinson said the school camera program was an Australian invention and council was proud to be the first local government to trial it.

“Council recently responded to concerns raised by Buderim Mountain State School in relation to the impacts being experienced at drop-off and pick-up times where people park unlawfully or overstay the allowable time limits,” she said.

“Buderim Mountain State School P&C Association felt that they had exhausted their education and alternate parking options and sought support from council to provide assistance.

“The nine pole-insertable cameras, manufactured locally in Melbourne from parts costing less than $100, are now used to monitor driver compliance. Vehicle behaviour machine learning models and number plate recognition allows for infringements to be issued to those not complying.”

The technology was designed to ensure minimal impact on the urban space while contributing to a safer environment for children and other pedestrians.

The Buderim Mountain State School drop-off zone.

The program has copped come criticism. Councillor Ted Hungerford urged the council to work with the state government to find a better solution outside the school.

“Just fining people doesn’t solve the problem. I’d rather make a better situation for people,” he said after the cameras were installed in April.

But Buderim Mountain State School P&C president Rachel O’Brien said the program, in its second term, had improved parking behaviour.

“We have seen higher vehicle turnover and more parking opportunities, keeping our kids safe, making for a smoother and less stressful journey to school,” she said.

“Working alongside council to trial the innovative ParkSmart solution has helped address a longstanding road safety issue in a way that’s fair and sustainable.”

The trial is in its assessment phase to understand how the activity can be scaled in a sustainable way to provide similar services to other locations.

A ParkSmart car at Alexandra Headland.

Along with the pole-insertable cameras, AI technology is also being used to regulate parking in other areas of the Sunshine Coast, via ParkSmart vehicles.

The camera captures images of parked vehicles during morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up, and records the vehicle location (GPS coordinates), number plate and time.

It allows council to monitor regulated parking areas to ensure motorists are adhering to parking regulations.

ParkSmart operates in all weather conditions and identifies regulated parking conditions on the street.

In addition to the Buderim Mountain State School pole-insertable cameras, the technology is already being used to regulate parking in Birtinya, Point Cartwright, Nicklin Way, Caloundra, Maroochydore, Mooloolaba, Nambour and Eumundi via a ParkSmart vehicle to increase safety for all and increase turnover and subsequent business patronage.

Face and body blurring is used to protect the privacy of students, parents and the community.

For more information about council’s ParkSmart program, visit Sunshine Coast – Parking.

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