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Hacking Satellite: M2M and Parking
The last few articles from the Hacking Satellite Series have been related to autonomous vehicles and the opportunities they will create within the satellite ecosystem. As a brief departure, this is a great opportunity for us to take a quick look at the foundation for the next few articles in that series by examining M2M (Machine to Machine) from a core level. Is it really any different from IoT (Internet of Things) or “smart” technologies? What separates one from the other?
M2M is a categorical descriptor for any technology that allows connected devices to send or receive data, automate processes, or perform triggered actions within a network and without the need for human interaction. The IoT can loosely be described as the network I mentioned in the previous sentence, and "smart" is a term referring to the ability for a device to be connected to that network. The defining characteristic of M2M technologies, really, is the idea that they attempt to enable automation and the eventual removal of human agents from the chain, while IoT and “smart’ technology is all about ease of use and accessibility for human participants.
With this in mind, it becomes quite clear why M2M is such a major field of interest for the satellite sector, as data movement and sensor-based triggering technology are primary focal points for SCADA solutions and other primary lines of business in satcom. Automating the process of “checking,” “monitoring,” or state-based triggering saves thousands of dollars for smaller operations, and millions of dollars for complex large-scale systems and operations. The greatest value satellite brings to the M2M ecosystem is its network; being non-terrestrial and omnipresent allows companies to offer solutions that are more reliable, better supported, and often more secure than traditional data networks. We can even support M2M operations and solutions anywhere in the world without a concern for network reliability or variable costs.
In keeping with the autonomous vehicle theme, one specific example of M2M technologies that satellite can enable is the development and execution of a monitoring system for parking and charging of unoccupied vehicles. People often postulate that individuals in urban areas will no longer own cars when they are all autonomous, as summoning a car on demand will make more sense. For those that do, the assumption is also that apart from the ride to and from work or home, the vehicle will be out earning money as part of the ecosystem, because it would be a waste of potential money to have it parked and empty when it could be out driving other people around town.
Given the idea of driverless taxis roaming the streets, it stands to reason that they will need to refuel, and sometimes they will in fact need to park and wait. Specialized charging or fueling stations can be set up around the city which are reserved for these vehicles, and their availability will be fed through an API, which allows the cars to locate the nearest open spot, reserve it (if necessary), and even complete transactions from that parking spot (paying for recharging or refueling, etc). So what’s stopping this from already being a thing? We have all of the technology, we are trending toward this type of future, and we have companies chomping at the bit to capture revenues associated with it… so why haven’t we seen it yet? The short answer is that we’re watching a slow transition, and companies (as well as governments) are hesitant to invest prior to a full systematic rollout.
Thanks, Justin, but how do we change that?
Let’s Build Something Together
Our Core Competency
GSE has the perfect tools for hardware enablement of an initiative like this, and it can be used immediately without an ecosystem of autonomous cars on the road. Using the GSatMicro Series, including and especially the GSatMicro OEM module, we could develop the data infrastructure that drives (see what I did there?) the development of an API and software proof of concept. We could fuel (sorry, too easy) the growth and changes to the ecosystem by demonstrating the viability with parking and charging stations in existing urban infrastructure.
With GSatTrack, a system administrator can manage all assets and “smart spots” on the grid from one centralized user panel, regardless of whether that smart spot is using GSE hardware. Managers can configure the rate, sensory triggers, and other alerts or status indicators directly from the panel without ever needing to visit the spot directly. The panel can be configured to notify meter attendants to cars parked without payment so that they can go directly to vehicles causing infractions instead of checking every spot manually.
When it comes down to it, GSE is prepared to offer a full solution to a government or private entity who needs the hardware and administrative infrastructure to get out in front of this trend. Where you can get involved with helping us develop this solution is with the creation or configuration of a consumer application that would incorporate our API data.
Your Core Competencies
If you already have a consumer app focused on parking, or if you have the ability to develop a cross-platform native application that can also be utilized by each vehicle’s onboard system in the future, you have an opportunity now to work with us to develop this solution and make it a reality. Your application should help users (and eventually autonomous vehicles) identify available parking spots, route to them using the preferred navigation app, and process the payment transaction as well as any fees associated with vehicle charging.
The Sales Part
You might also be interested in working with us if you’re a local government official looking for a solutions architect for the future of your parking infrastructure. Is it time to upgrade your meters? Are you looking for a way to increase the efficiency of your payment system? Do you wish you could automate the parking enforcement process? Likewise, are you a university campus or other venue with extensive parking enforcement needs? GSE’s solution can prepare you to save money now and to prepare for the future without having to invest more than once.
If you think you’re up to the challenge, let’s build a product. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us why you think we should work together. If you think you could use this solution because you are a parking enforcement official, we’d love to hear from you as well.