Press Kit: Pebble

A pebble sensor on the ground

Hi there!

Parking in cities can be a problem. There’s not enough in some cities, which causes traffic congestion and pollution as drivers circle for a space at the curb, in a garage, or in a lot. In others, there’s too much parking available, which raises building costs and takes up space that could be repurposed for housing, parks, or other valuable uses.

Sensors exist for collecting information about how curbs and parking spaces are used, but they can be expensive, hard to install, or both. That’s why Sidewalk Labs created Pebble, a low-cost, easy-install vehicle, privacy-preserving sensor that helps with curb and parking management. Pebble gives city agencies, developers, and parking operators real-time insights into when parking spaces and curbsides are occupied and when they’re not.

By giving everyone involved in the planning and management of parking and curb space a way to measure use, we can help get any number of new ideas for more sustainable and innovative cities off the ground.

Best,
Thomas George
Head of Pebble


What Is Pebble?

Pebble is a low-cost, easy-install, privacy-preserving vehicle sensor designed to help manage parking in innovative and sustainable ways. Pebble provides real-time data about parking space availability, with a dashboard to help analyze historical parking patterns. These insights can communicate space availability to customers, reduce circling, and create shared parking zones that minimize the number of spaces built in the first place. Pebble’s low-infrastructure design — the sensors don’t require trenching or underground wiring — makes it easier to install and lower cost than existing street sensors on the market.

Key Benefits

  • For city agencies: Curb space is in high demand in cities. By understanding how curbs are being used, cities can reduce traffic congestion, generate revenue that can be invested back into the community, and give more users access to the curb throughout the day.

  • For developers: Cities require developers to allocate a certain amount of parking for new projects, but Pebble can help make the case to build fewer parking spaces or create “shared” parking zones that reduce the need to build costly new spaces. Such insights can reduce development costs significantly and lead to better uses of land, such as more housing or open space.

  • For commuters: Parking data from Pebble can be integrated into third-party navigation apps using Pebble’s API. This can enable drivers to navigate directly to a spot, instead of searching and circling for one. Drivers who know there’s little parking available may also be more inclined to use public transit, which reduces the amount of vehicles on the road to decrease pollution.

What’s Included With Pebble?

The wireless Pebble system consists of two parts:

A Pebble sensor in the palm of a hand

Individual Pebble sensors

Peel the adhesive and place the small (2.8 inches in diameter) sensor on a parking surface to detect the presence or absence of a vehicle.

An image of a Pebble gateway and sensor beside a quarter

Pebble gateway

Strap the solar-powered gateways to a pole for communication between the sensor and Pebble’s software, which allows operators to analyze historical trends, as well as manage lots or garages in real time. Since the gateway uses the cellular network, no new wires, trenching, or through pavement is needed.

How Do Pebble Sensors Work?

Pebble uses two types of sensors to determine whether a space is available. First, a low-power magnetometer initially detects the presence of a vehicle. Next, an optical sensor confirms that the space is being used. By only waking the optical sensor when absolutely necessary, Pebble stays energy efficient while remaining super accurate.

How Does Pebble Use Data?

Consistent with Sidewalk Labs’ approach toward data minimization, Pebble was designed with privacy in mind. Once in place, Pebble sensors relay the presence or absence of a vehicle in real time. That’s it! The device was intentionally designed without a camera or other ways to identify a person or vehicle. There simply isn’t a need for this type of data to achieve the goal of vehicle detection.

Downloads

Download Pebble brand assets here, including logos, hardware, and software images. Download Pebble brand assets here, including logos, hardware, and software images.

Download media kit (coming soon)

About Sidewalk Labs

Sidewalk Labs is an urban innovation company that tackles cities' greatest challenges. We create products and solutions, invest in new companies, and help developers build more sustainable, innovative, and equitable places around the world. Sidewalk Labs was founded in 2015, and today has a diverse team of more than 130 urbanists and technologists based in New York City.

Learn more