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How To Use IoT For Smart Parking Solution Development

Illustration: © IoT For All

Smart parking is a practical IoT application that can dramatically improve everyone’s life.

Imagine, you arrive at your destination twenty minutes early for a very important meeting. You have plenty of time as long as you can find a place to park.

The parking lot for the building is full. You drive around desperately looking for a space on the street but do not find one. You try the underground parking lot of the building across the street. Driving in, you suddenly have to stop. There is plenty of traffic ahead of you trying to do the same thing. You attempt to call the meeting to say you will be late and there is no cell phone signal in the underground parking garage.

It takes a half-hour to find a space. When you finally arrive at the office for the meeting, you are sweating profusely and out of breath. The receptionist tells you that everybody already left. Your meeting was canceled and you have to deal with serious losses.

You are not alone. An average driver in the US wastes $345 per year, that results in over $70 billion annually nationwide.

Moreover, 40% of drivers surveyed said that they choose not to visit brick-n-mortar shops due to the hassle of finding a parking space.

Recent research is predicting that up to 68% of the people in the world will live in major metropolitan cities by 2050. This could have a direct impact on how car owners park in cities.

So, what can be done to improve parking in cities?

How IoT Smart Parking Works

Innovative smart parking technology combined with IoT connectivity helps solve this problem. Installed IoT sensors determine where empty parking spaces are located. This IoT data is transmitted over a wireless connection to a cloud server. All the data from the parking lot is collected and analyzed in real-time to produce a map of available spaces made available to those looking for a space.

Drivers looking for a parking space can refer to the real-time smart parking map and be guided to the nearest vacant space. Advanced systems can reserve these spaces and take electronic payments from the drivers.

In the case study for IoT smart parking solution development, the technical components include an ultrasonic sensor HC-SR04 that measures physical distances using ultrasonic waves, and a ESP8266 microcontroller. Both are installed at every parking space.

The IoT device sends a periodic update by wireless signal using the MQTT protocol to a cloud server running AWS IoT services. The cloud server assembles data about all parking slots. This shows users via a web or mobile application the available parking spots to let them choose one.

How IoT Sensors Detect Free Parking Space

IoT sensors use an ultrasonic wave to detect the distance to something. Each sensor is embedded in the parking space surface and detects the distance to the undercarriage of a vehicle if the parking space is occupied.

3 Possible Detection Conditions

  1. Space is Occupied: Distance detected to an object by the sensor is in the range of 10 to 50 centimeters (about four to 20 inches).
  2. Space is Free: Distance detected to an object by the sensor is more than 50 centimeters (about 20 inches).
  3. Space is Dirty: Distance detected to an object by the sensor is less than 10 centimeters (about four inches).

If the condition is “dirty” the sensor may be covered by something or blocked and the device needs to be checked.

The application runs on AWS IoT and AWS Lambda and shows a driver free spaces in green, occupied spaces in red, and sensor malfunctions as yellow.

IoT Based Smart Parking System Configuration

The amount of parking spaces in a parking lot determines the software and hardware requirements for IoT configuration and system architecture. For large parking lots, it’s better to use gateway and the LPWAN protocol for the sensors.

LoRaWAN standard adoption is one of the current IoT trends and the way to increase the operating hours of an autonomous system by reducing power usage. According to the specifications of the LoRa Alliance, this reduces the need to replace the batteries. Battery life is extended up to five years before needing replacement.

Sensors for IoT Based Smart Parking

Smart parking sensor types include ultrasonic, electromagnetic field detection, and infrared.

  • Ultrasonic: The accuracy of the sensing is improved by using ultrasound for measurement detection. The disadvantage of this type of sensor is a potential blockage by dirt.
  • Electromagnetic Field Detection: This sensor detects small changes in the magnetic field when metal things come close to the sensor.
  • Infrared: This type of sensor measures changes in the surrounding temperature and detects motion.

Parking 4.0: Future and Opportunities in Smart Cities

Deployment of smart parking systems is expected to continue to increase because the technology is extremely useful and makes helpful improvements in daily life. The following advanced features can be added to the system to turn it into a highly multi-functional management tool.

  • Parking demand management and space optimization
  • Personalized parking guidance
  • Parking reservation systems
  • Dynamic parking prices and policy optimization
  • Detection of parking zones, fees, and overstay violations.

For large-scale parking lots, augmented reality technology may create a mapping function overlay on top of real images captured by a smartphone. These AR-based outdoor and indoor navigation systems can guide drivers with a virtual path to their parked cars.

Another innovation uses visual image processing to capture the license number of a vehicle to recognize it with the help of Optical Character Recognition technology. Then, it automatically opens the gate to the parking lot and the system guides the driver to a suitable parking space.

The future seems to be quite promising for smart parking systems. Technologies lying behind this solution are IoT, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Augmented Reality–the same ones that are driving digital transformation for businesses under the “Industry 4.0” term. Leveraging these innovations, Parking 4.0 will increase parking systems efficiency by solving urbanization challenges.

Written by Viktor Gubochkin, IoT Lead Solution Architect at MobiDev.

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How Will the Emergence of 5G Affect Federated Learning?

Illustration: © IoT For All

As development teams race to build out AI tools, it is becoming increasingly common to train algorithms on edge devices. Federated learning, a subset of distributed machine learning, is a relatively new approach that allows companies to improve their AI tools without explicitly accessing raw user data.

Conceived by Google in 2017, federated learning is a decentralized learning model through which algorithms are trained on edge devices. In regard to Google’s “on-device machine learning” approach, the search giant pushed their predictive text algorithm to Android devices, aggregated the data and sent a summary of the new knowledge back to a central server. To protect the integrity of the user data, this data was either delivered via homomorphic encryption or differential privacy, which is the practice of adding noise to the data in order to obfuscate the results.

Generally speaking, with federated learning, the AI algorithm is trained without ever recognizing any individual user’s specific data; in fact, the raw data never leaves the device itself. Only aggregated model updates are sent back. These model updates are then decrypted upon delivery to the central server. Test versions of the updated model are then sent back to select devices, and after this process is repeated thousands of times, the AI algorithm is significantly improved—all while never jeopardizing user privacy.

This technology is expected to make waves in the healthcare sector. For example, federated learning is currently being explored by medical start-up Owkin. Seeking to leverage patient data from several healthcare organizations, Owkin uses federated learning to build AI algorithms with data from various hospitals. This can have far-reaching effects, especially as it’s invaluable that hospitals are able to share disease progression data with each other while preserving the integrity of patient data and adhering to HIPAA regulations. By no means is healthcare the only sector employing this technology; federated learning will be increasingly used by autonomous car companies, smart cities, drones, and fintech organizations. Several other federated learning start-ups are coming to market, including Snips,, and, which was recently acquired by Apple.

Potential concerns

Man-In-The-Middle Attacks

Seeing as these AI algorithms are worth a great deal of money, it’s expected that these models will be a lucrative target for hackers. Nefarious actors will attempt to perform man-in-the-middle attacks. However, as mentioned earlier, by adding noise and aggregating data from various devices and then encrypting this aggregate data, companies can make things difficult for hackers.

Model Poisoning

Perhaps more concerning are attacks that poison the model itself. A hacker could conceivably compromise the model through his or her own device, or by taking over another user’s device on the network. Ironically, because federated learning aggregates the data from different devices and sends the encrypted summaries back to the central server, hackers who enter via a backdoor are given a degree of cover. Because of this, it is difficult, if not impossible, to identify where anomalies are located.

Bandwidth and Processing Limitations

Although on-device machine learning effectively trains algorithms without exposing raw user data, it does require a ton of local power and memory. Companies attempt to circumvent this by only training their AI algorithms on the edge when devices are idle, charging, or connected to Wi-Fi; however, this is a perpetual challenge.

The Impact of 5G

As 5G expands across the globe, edge devices will no longer be limited by bandwidth and processing speed constraints. According to a recent Nokia report, 4G base stations can support 100,000 devices per square kilometer; whereas, the forthcoming 5G stations will support up to 1 million devices in the same area. With enhanced mobile broadband and low latency, 5G will provide energy efficiency, while facilitating device-to-device communication (D2D). In fact, it is predicted that 5G will usher in a 10-100x increase in bandwidth and a 5-10x decrease in latency.

When 5G becomes more prevalent, we’ll experience faster networks, more endpoints, and a larger attack surface, which may attract an influx of DDoS attacks. Also, 5G comes with a slicing feature, which allows slices (virtual networks) to be easily created, modified, and deleted based on the needs of users. According to a research manuscript on the disruptive force of 5G, it remains to be seen whether this network slicing component will allay security concerns or bring a host of new problems.

To summarize, there are new concerns from both a privacy and a security perspective; however, the fact remains: 5G is ultimately a boon for federated learning.

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WiFi for Enterprise IoT: Why You Shouldn’t Use It

Illustration: © IoT For AllSo you’re building an IoT solution and you’re ready to select your connectivity approach. Should you use Bluetooth? WiFi? LoRa? Cellular? Satellite? As I’ve explored in a previous post, the connectivity approach you choose ultimately comes down to the specific needs of your …

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The State of Indoor Positioning and Asset Tracking Using BLE and LoRa

Illustration: © IoT For AllThe indoor positioning and asset tracking space remains the wild west despite many companies working towards developing a robust, cost-effective, scalable solution. BLE, WiFi, Ultra Wide Band, RFID, and Ultrasonic, to name a few, have been used in the past to develop Indoor Positioning and Asset …

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Cellular IoT: Poised to Hit Consumer Product Market

Illustration: © IoT For AllWith 2020 underway, I’d like to toss my hat in the ring with others who have penned predictions for IoT in 2020. I’ll get right to it; I predict the wide-spread introduction of IoT products with embedded cellular connectivity to the consumer market.To date, IoT …

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An Introduction to a Full 5G System

Illustration: © IoT For All5G will be here soon, and it will be much more than faster cell phone speeds. There are three application spaces designated for 5G– eMBB, the replacement of 4G mobile networks with faster 5G networks; URLCC, low latency high-reliability data transfer; and mMTC, low-cost massive …

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3 Reasons Why Your IoT Initiatives Need SD-WAN

Illustration: © IoT For AllWe’re living in an era of fast-paced digital transformation that’s only accelerating thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT). From agriculture and retail to transportation, healthcare, and the factory floor, IoT systems are delivering new business insights and much more efficient ways of working. …

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MQTT vs SSE: A Comparison

Illustration: © IoT For AllBuilding a real-time web or mobile application is a bit more challenging than building a standard service. That’s because the protocol you choose to deliver data from the server to the client— and back—will have a significant impact on the overall experience.When you …

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7 IoT Certifications to Enhance Your Career Prospects in 2020

Illustration: © IoT For AllAs a software engineer, computer engineer, full-stack developer or any other IT professional, new career opportunities mean better income, perks, growth and a more satisfying job experience. But some opportunities don’t come easily unless you have the right certifications.In 2017, Gartner forecasted the creation of 1.4 …

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What Is CBRS and How Does It Help IoT?

Illustration: © IoT For All

The Internet of Things continues to grow fueled by applications that solve problems for enterprise customers. One of the biggest barriers to IoT solutions in enterprise settings is reliable and low-cost wireless connectivity. Where Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LoRa, Zigbee and others have tried to solve the problem before, CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) is posed to offer a viable alternative for enterprise IoT connectivity.

What is CBRS?

Specific to the United States, Citizen’s Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) is a piece of the radio spectrum between 3550 – 3700 MHz. This is a valuable area of the spectrum because it allows good propagation (ability to penetrate walls and go medium distances) with the benefits of higher bandwidth services, such as LTE and 5G.

CBRS spectrum can be used to deploy a stand-alone, private LTE or 5G network inside a building.

Before CBRS, ensuring a robust cellular network inside of a facility, like a hospital, required installing a carrier-specific Distributed Antenna System (DAS). These systems are costly and only work with one carrier. CBRS systems have the potential to offer a “neutral host” for LTE/5G connections which would connect cellular devices (like phones or IoT sensors) via the CBRS radio infrastructure and then on to the carrier’s packet core network. For phones (and there are not many out yet) that support CBRS, they could use these in-building networks independent of what mobile operator they are using. 

For an IoT device inside of a building, using CBRS could prove a much more reliable connection than trying to connect from the basement HVAC controller to a cell tower 2 miles away, for example. 

Business Benefits

Neutral Host IoT Connectivity

For a direct-to-cellular IoT device (like a pharmacy temperature monitor in a hospital) that is installed in an enterprise, using CBRS as the primary cellular connection could be free if the device was provisioned to participate directly on the enterprise CBRS system. No need to pay Verizon, if the enterprise is providing all of the components for connectivity.

Alternative to Wi-Fi

CBRS 4G/5G systems use radio technology that is much more advanced than Wi-Fi and can cover 3-4x the range even at equivalent power levels. And since security and access are controlled via SIM cards, many of the headaches of managing Wi-Fi access and security are alleviated for IT teams. 

Better Performance Than LoRa or Zigbee

IoT specific wireless technologies like LoRa or Zigbee often use an application layer routing design, which means that some of the flexibility and robustness of the IP network are unavailable. Things like firmware upgrades and service changes are much easier for direct-to-IP connections like those enabled with CBRS 4G/5G.

Broadband Phone and Data Services

IoT is not the central use case for CBRS. It is the ability to improve phone performance in buildings that is the main value driver. IoT networking becomes a nice-to-have add-on for CBRS investments, at least at this stage. Alternatives to Wi-Fi for other devices, like laptops and TVs are likely to be seen in the future of CBRS enabled buildings.                                          

CBRS Applications

Good IoT applications for CBRS are ones that require a lot of bandwidth and probably aren’t battery-powered. Such as:

  • Video – Surveillance or Computer Vision Applications
  • Real-time control- Building Automation, HVAC
  • Push-to-talk- Security, operational voice such as in healthcare
  • Mains powered sensors- Temperature, Air Quality 
  • Gateway based IoT – Indoor positioning, where sensors talk to a local gateway

Indoor Positioning Example

CBRS could be a potential candidate for secure, high-bandwidth backhaul and long-range connectivity for campus-wide IoT solutions of the future. What makes CBRS attractive compared to Wi-Fi is the range the can be supported from a single access point, mobility support for users on the move, and spectral efficiency/capacity to support a large amount of traffic. 

Source: Qualcomm, Architecture for Private LTE Networks

For high-reliability use cases or those in environments already plagued by complex IT systems and crowded unlicensed band usage, like hospitals, CBRS could open up a new capability to install IoT solutions. Indoor positioning systems that rely on Bluetooth or Ultrawideband often have high frequency, real-time data flow requirements that can be challenging for Wi-Fi-based backhaul. CBRS small cells connecting to CBRS IoT gateway devices could provide a new way of solving the backhaul problem.  

For CBRS-based IoT networks, the near term challenges are how device management (SIM-based security and provisioning) will be handled and the limited availability of CBRS capable gateways and sensors. Companies like Athonet are working to solve the software and orchestration problems created by new CBRS enterprise deployments. 

Potential Barriers


CBRS is solidly a USA-only spectrum band. However, other countries are releasing the public spectrum for unlicensed broadband wireless as well. The downside is that each country will require specialized radio hardware to work in a certain band. As these bands take off, cellular module manufacturers are likely to incorporate them. A “private cellular only” module might be on the market in the next few years.

Licensing Details

CBRS is a hybrid of licensed and unlicensed spectrums. 70 MHz out of the 150 MHz total bands are available through auctions, which will likely be consumed by the mobile operators. The remaining 80 MHz is available as General Availability. 80 MHz is still a large amount of spectrum to do private cellular operations. However, just like congestion in the 2.4 GHz band, CBRS GAA spectrum will likely see more and more use over time. 

Customer Availability

For an IoT company looking for connectivity options, CBRS should be on the radar, but it is certainly too new to rely on just yet. Unless an application is very valuable, the cost of deploying a standalone CBRS network just for IoT likely won’t be justified. Waiting for customer sites to adopt CBRS is likely the strategy that the IoT community will have to adopt.

CBRS is an exciting leap forward for publically available spectrum in the US. How it will play out for enterprises and the IoT community will be very interesting. Watch this space.

Source: IoT For All