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.
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.
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.