The importance of reliability in IoT sensors and how to measure it

The latest technology is being used to improve life in cities, and this includes managing parking more efficiently. In this context, detection sensors play a key role. But what are they and how is their reliability assessed in the context of car parks?

The latest technology plays a crucial role in improving the quality of life in our cities, and one of the most prominent aspects of this transformation is the optimisation of parking space management. In this context, detection sensors emerge as key players. But what exactly are they and how can we measure their reliability in the field of parking?

Detection sensors are essentially devices specifically designed to recognise vehicles occupying and vacating parking spaces. Their main task is to provide accurate information on whether a space is taken. One outstanding example is the U-Spot sensor, which enables single-space occupancy to be detected by flush-mounted, autonomous sensors. These devices stand out for their reliability and their ability to effectively manage parking spaces in a variety of functions, ranging from monitoring the misuse of reserved spaces to providing drivers with real-time information on the availability of free spaces via information panels.

Furthermore, these sensors can not only detect the occupancy of the parking space but also record the rotation/changes in status with the arrival and departure of vehicles. This is crucial for both monitoring usage and collecting statistics, which contributes significantly to the efficient management of parking spaces in the city.

U-Spot: detección IoT plaza a plaza

U-Spot: detección IoT plaza a plaza

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Factors measuring the reliability of vehicle detection sensors

Vehicle detection devices in parking spaces are based on advanced technology to ensure maximum reliability and provide additional features, such as alerts to wardens when spaces are used inappropriately. Accuracy and error reduction are fundamental to these solutions.

Reliability measurement varies depending on whether the system is for control or guidance. For guiding, it is sufficient to measure space occupancy, which implies taking a snapshot of the status of the spaces at a given time, providing information on the overall availability of places.

However, for control, we also need at all times to know what is happening in each space. Precise information is required on when a vehicle arrives and when it leaves, with margins of a few seconds. Each parking session is tracked in detail, accurately monitoring the start and end of each session to avoid false starts and unfair fines.

At Urbiotica, we are experts and leaders in the development of IoT and Artificial Intelligence technologies to give a positive impact on urban mobility, which is why we work to ensure that our sensors guarantee high reliability and optimal performance in managing parking spaces.

Maintenance

On the other hand, it is important to ensure optimal functioning of the independent magnetic sensors at all times in order to guarantee their reliability in the medium and long term. Whether or not to maintain the sensors depends primarily on whether the intelligence of the system resides in the device itself or whether all the intelligence is located and managed from the IoT smart platform.

When the intelligence of the sensors resides in the device, maintenance must be performed on a regular sensor-by-sensor basis.

In the case of U-Spot sensors managed remotely from the platform, once installed, it will not be necessary to physically go to the site to manage and control them. They are maintenance-free sensors.

Calibration

Correct calibration of the sensors is a prerequisite for optimal operation. The positive side is that this is based on automatic algorithms and therefore, again, thanks to the remote management in the case of Urbiotica sensors, this is not a point to worry about, as it is done remotely. The following aspects are checked in this automatic remote calibration:

  • Correct functioning of the communication network connections system, ensuring faultless transmission of information in real time.
  • Performance of detection tests to check/review the accuracy and reliability of the sensors in detecting space occupancy.
  • Adjusting the sensitivity and checking the stability of the sensors, ensuring that they are stable and that their operation is not affected by changes in temperature, humidity or asphalt wear over time.

These aspects must be considered to increase the cost-effectiveness of the systems, both in parking space control and vehicle guidance.

Furthermore, in order to guarantee the quality and reliability of the services provided, Service Level Agreements (SLAs) must be specified as a requirement in the tender documents. These clearly defined and measurable agreements will establish the successful bidder’s performance expectations and commitments, thereby ensuring compliance with the standards set out in the tender documents.

Sensor types and their technology

The type of sensor and its technology are also key factors in ensuring reliable vehicle detection in parking spaces. As with other products and technological solutions, the quality of the sensors and the complexity of the technologies used in their manufacture largely determine their reliability.

It is important to note that the most reliable sensors are those that are developed with advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Deep Learning and Cloud data management. These technologies allow sensors to learn and generate increasingly accurate information, with greater discrimination capabilities.

When measuring the reliability of the sensors, different factors are taken into account:

  • On the one hand, occupancy through patrols in which all the spaces are checked and the current status is recorded and compared with the information provided by the detection system. It is recommended to conduct rounds of all spaces on different days/times to obtain a sufficiently large sample volume and a significant reliability value. This monitoring of all spaces may take more time and effort.
  • And furthermore, rotation, where a group of spaces is assessed continuously to see the changes in status over a given period of time. As in the previous case, it is also recommended to do this on different days and at different times.

In addition, it is important to perform installation tests and periodic assessments over time to verify the stability and reliability of the system. We recommend performing these tests at least once a year to ensure that the system maintains its reliability over time.

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