Weekly Brief: Bing embraces real-time parking data

In this week’s Brief: Microsoft, ParkMe, INRIX, Centre for Economics and Business Research, Nokia HERE, GM, Shanghai GM, AT&T, Ford, Road Safety Foundation, HM Treasury and Transparency Market Research.

Where’s the nearest open parking spot? Ask Bing.

Microsoft updated its search engine last week with real-time parking data from ParkMe, which allows users to seamlessly find nearby parking, check real time availability, and pre-pay for parking spaces across the globe. Additionally, ParkMe displays locations and parking information such as rates, hours of operation, occupancy, entry points and payment types.

Back at CES 2013 INRIX debuted a parking navigation service that guides users to parking facilities with available spots in real time via turn-by-turn directions, so Microsoft’s move isn’t pathfinding stuff. Nonetheless, to see one of the major search engines stepping in the direction of real-time parking data is encouraging, considering that searching for a parking space accounts for 30 percent of all urban traffic congestion.

On that note, INRIX and the Centre for Economics and Business Research released a study suggesting that the combined annual cost of traffic gridlock in Europe and the US will soar to $293.1 billion by 2030, almost a 50 percent increase from 2013. The main drivers are urban population growth and higher living standards as a result of increased GDP per capita. The study estimates the total cumulative cost of traffic congestion for the economies of France, Germany, the UK and the US at $4.4 trillion.

“This report shows that advanced economies could be heading for ‘car-maggedon’,” says Kevin Foreman, general manager of GeoAnalytics at INRIX. “Improving public transport infrastructure may provide more choice for travelers, but it won’t solve the problem. Technology innovations like multi-modal routing and real-time traffic in connected cars and on mobile devices should be adopted more widely, helping to create smarter cities worldwide.”

Sticking with navigation, Nokia HERE made the HERE Maps app available to all Android smartphones running 4.1 Jelly Bean. The app had previously been available only on the iPhone and on the Samsung Galaxy smartphone. Android users can download the beta app straight from Nokia at http://here.com/beta/android.

In other news, the 4G LTE revolution is coming to cars in China soon thanks to GM, which announced that it will become the first automaker in China to offer embedded 4G LTE services in its vehicles. The first Shanghai GM offering to be equipped with OnStar 4G LTE will be a Cadillac model in 2015. The benefits? High-speed data fueling a new built-in Wi-Fi hotspot and better OnStar safety and security services.

Who loves this news? Wireless carriers. After all, the more in-car 4G offerings, the more wireless carriers can profit, as AT&T revealed last week when it announced that it added 500,000 cars to its network in the third quarter of 2014. Driving the growth were GM’s and Audi’s 4G rollouts to cars this summer in North America.

On the advanced driver assistance front, Ford rolled out Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection, which helps avoid front-side collisions by harnessing radar and camera technology to scan the roadway ahead. If a collision risk with a vehicle or pedestrian is detected, the system provides a warning to the driver and, if the driver doesn’t respond in time, automatically applies up to full braking force to help reduce the severity of or eliminate frontal collisions. The technology will debut on the 2015 Ford Mondeo in Europe this year.

Insurance telematics got a plug last week from the Road Safety Foundation in the UK, which published a recommendation to the HM Treasury to remove insurance premium tax from telematics insurance policies for those under-25. Reason being, the Foundation says, that road crashes are the leading cause of death and life changing injury for young people in the UK and insurance telematics technology is proven to reducing the number of crashes and the frequency of reckless driving — all in a way that under-25s actually respond well to thanks to the financial motivation. The HM Treasury is currently consulting for upcoming budget proposals.

Finally, remember the days when telematics was a novelty and the connected car a far-off dream? Well, according to a new report from Transparency Market Research, our little connected car niche market is expected to reach US$131.9 billion by 2019. That accounts for growth at a CAGR of 34.7% from 2013 to 2019, driven primarily by consumer demand, as well as rapid growth in network technology, government mandates and growing awareness about security and safety in the car.

The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.

Ruthana Foulkes is a regular TU contributor.

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