Bad Hersfeld, Germany, Streamlines Parking with Smart Parking Innovation

The Customer

Located in the central part of Germany, Bad Hersfeld is a city rich in history, centered around monastery ruins that were built around 769. Each summer, between June and August, the annual Bad Hersfelder Festspiele opera festival and concerts are held in the monastery ruins, as well as Lullusfest, Germany’s oldest folk festival in October. Additionally, Bad Hersfeld’s city center is home to its popular twice-weekly farmers market. With almost 30,000 full-time residents, and scores of visitors each year, it’s critical for the city to maintain streamlined traffic and parking management at all times, and looked to deploy a smart parking innovation to achieve its goals.

The Challenge

The city’s age has made establishing advanced infrastructure a challenge, and event traffic — as well as everyday usage — causes significant congestion throughout. In the city’s center specifically, there is a single road into the main parking area, making traveling during busy times challenging for drivers, as well as stressful for business owners and residents in the area. As a result, it was critical for city leaders to change how they handled traffic from both visitors and tourists.

“There’s a lot of stress and discomfort, and many times, shoppers and visitors are annoyed before they ever start their shopping experience in our town,” Bad Hersfeld Mayor Thomas Fehling explains. He has experienced similar challenges as a visitor in other cities, and as a leader at Bad Hersfeld, he proactively sought out a solution.

According to Fehling, ease of travel for the city’s residents and visitors is imperative. Customer service is critical, as happy drivers can result in an increase in tourism revenue. And service begins the moment a person starts searching for a parking space. Because of this, streamlining the parking experience is a top priority for cities.

“We want to provide drivers with a stress-free experience when they visit,” he said. “Parking can be challenging during busy times, and with traffic flow in and out of the parking areas, there needed to be a way to guide cars quickly and efficiently to speed up the process.”

The Solution

Fehling faced an uphill battle in addressing the city’s parking challenges. The city had previously deployed in-ground sensors that were supposed to identify whether spaces were free or occupied. However, this type of technology is present in a number of cities today with limited success. Fehling said the technology “never really worked well,” and in fact, it created problems for both the city’s parking management and drivers themselves because of costly installation and frequent servicing issues.

Following an internal review of the existing solution, a team removed the in-ground technology in favor of an integrated, intelligent smart parking innovation from Cleverciti Systems. Cleverciti sensors are installed above the parking spaces on light poles, overcoming challenges that in-ground sensors face, such as interference from magnetic fields and the high risk of damage by vandalism, roadwork or snow plows.

Initially, the city implemented a pilot program with a sensor that oversaw 10 spots in the area. City leaders analyzed the results and used the information to make a decision to install sensors that now oversee and maintain 250 open-air parking spaces near the city center.

The smart parking innovation revolutionizes the process of parking by delivering real-time identification of free and occupied spaces, easing the search for a parking spot while reducing environmental impact. Long-term, this can result in less pollution, a goal that many smart cities around the world share — and one that Bad Hersfeld takes seriously as well.

The Results 
Cleverciti’s smart parking innovation monitors parking space availability in real-time in the center of the city, while also giving the city’s parking department valuable information about the length of stay, size of a free parking space and restricted and loading areas. “The data gathered from open and occupied spaces is calculated and the information is pushed to guidance monitors at the entrance of the parking area,” said Fehling.

According to Fehling, the smart parking solution is running with a reliability of 99.9 percent, which is far superior to the in-ground sensors that the city previously had in place. The dashboard, which is visible to city leaders, allows them to visualize how the system is operating, providing an overall picture of parking availability and congestion, enabling them to make decisions and allocate resources to help streamline traffic flow during peak times.

The Cleverciti smart parking innovation also integrates with large displays that transmit more information to drivers, directing traffic to open spots, decreasing congestion during the city’s many events. Drivers are also dynamically guided to free spaces through the sensor’s integrated LED screens called CIRC360 that have been added since the project began.

The CIRC360 solution is an omnidirectional floating LED sign that displays messaging, including emergency notifications, important citywide announcements or information about events in the area, creating a unique and progressive approach to managing a city’s smart parking. The ability of the solution to be leveraged for multiple uses also extends ROI. The CIRC360 displays are in use in the city’s center, as well as at park-and-ride locations outside of the city that serve commuters along the railway.

The Cleverciti smart parking solution incorporates all aspects of traditional parking technology into one integrated, intelligent system. This platform combines overhead sensors, mobile apps, management software and analytics to streamline the parking experience for drivers and operations teams, gather information about usage and space availability, and offer real value to visitors and residents.

“Looking for a parking space now is not based on luck and hope; it’s based on proven data from Cleverciti,” Fehling said. “Overall, we’re happy with the system. We’ve gotten very good feedback from local retailers. Driver frustration has been reduced, which was the main goal of ours.”

“Bad Hersfeld wanted to increase the quality of life for visitors coming into our city and for the people who call this home, and with the Cleverciti solution, we’ve accomplished this and continue to find ways to expand the solution to benefit drivers,” he said. As a result of his foresight and commitment to delivering a better parking experience, Fehling was able to address challenges today’s cities face with a highly efficient and comprehensive solution.

Watch the video to see more of the deployment and insight from area residents.