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Toward a Carbon Neutral City: Advantech Assists Smart Parking Meter Solution with Power-Efficient Technologies


United Nations estimated that by 2030, urban areas are projected to house 60% of people globally, and the number of cities with 1 to 5 million inhabitants is projected to grow from 467 in 2018 to 597. As a result, cities will experience challenges related to livability, energy efficiency, urban mobility and many more issues. Smart city solutions can help address urban problems effectively. Thus, many cities are introducing smart city services, and many companies are dedicated to developing intelligent solutions for the services. These solutions help cities govern everything from air quality, public safety, traffic flows, parking to electricity and water, making cities livable, workable and sustainable.

Solar-powered smart parking meters fasten implementation with energy-efficiency

The smart city solution provider in Taiwan utilizes smart road technologies to help several cities tackle infrastructure and management issues. According to past experience, digitalizing city infrastructures requires long-term planning and budgeting, and the construction is very costly and time-consuming. These are the roadblocks for smart city solution providers to figure out profitable and feasible business models. Therefore, due to cities’ budgeting and financial constraints, the solution provider has been focusing on the development of solar-powered smart parking meters to shorten the construction time and increase energy-efficiency.

“At the time, there was no high computing performance parking meter with low power consumption on the market, and with Advantech’s support, our solution not only met the performance requirements, but also allowed them to change the battery every two months.", said the solution provider.

One-stop design-in service saved efforts in hardware-software integration

Smart parking meters are outdoor unattended solutions that require rugged designs with sufficient computing performance to withstand outside temperatures and operate stably to detect the occupancy of parking spaces. Some parking meters–especially those that are solar powered–have specific power requirements and can only support devices with low energy consumption.

Advantech ROM-5721 SMARC 2.1 Computer-on-Module, powered by NXP i.MX 8M  SOC, was chosen for the project. ROM-5721’s small footprint meets the compact housing design of the parking meter. Its heterogeneous processing architecture, including up to 4x Arm® Cortex®-A53 cores and one Cortex-M4 processor, with the combination of Advantech real-time operating system (RTOS) design-in service, allows the parking meter to utilize the power management and computing resources efficiently. Thus, the parking meter can switch between deep sleep, sleep and operating modes swiftly, and run multiple peripheral and software applications at the same time. Normally, the parking meter’s CPU falls into deep sleep mode, leaving its Cortex-M4 processor to monitor the millimeter wave radar. Only when the radar detects movements, the CPU wakes up to process main functions such as contact-less payments and license plate recognition. Moreover, instead of normal LCD or LED displays, this project uses an e-paper display to save more power.

In addition, Advantech’s flexible modular software and hardware designs, such as ready-to-use embedded Linux (yocto) for Cortex-A53, enabled the solution provider to focus on the development of its own applications and accelerated the overall project schedule. Advantech’s AIM-Linux includes embedded Linux Board Support Package (BSP) based on the long-term-support (LTS) version, and peripheral drivers for diverse software requirements.