• Jordan Justus, Co-Founder & CEO

Why automated curb management solutions are critical to prepare cities for the e-commerce future

On-demand delivery used to feel like a luxury, but in 2020 that changed. E-commerce is now an integral part of our daily lives and our economy, but it’s also giving rise to a new set of challenges that cities must address. Conventional curb users, including passenger vehicles, buses, taxis and bikes, are now competing for street space with ride-hailing services, food delivery vehicles, and delivery trucks and vans. Unprecedented growth in commercial vehicle traffic has made city streets and curb space increasingly congested, polluted and unsafe.


The World Economic Forum projected, pre-pandemic, that there would be a 36% increase in commercial vehicles on city streets by 2030, which was expected to lead to a 32% increase in emissions, 21% increase in congestion, and an additional 11 minutes of commute time per passenger per day. Commercial vehicle use has surged since that prediction was made, with e-commerce growing 44% in the first quarter of 2020.


Today cities have access to a variety of curb management solutions that aim to reverse these trends. From high-tech parking meters and mobile applications for reserving and paying to parking sensors and more designated (un)loading zone space, cities are exploring how to overhaul decades-old systems and regulations with completely new technology and policies that better prioritize the needs and safety of pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and local businesses.


Recent smart loading zone pilots in cities such as Aspen and Columbus have shown that technology that supports full automation is a critical component of any curb management strategy. These pilots demonstrated that retention rates for mobile application users are lower than 20% among commercial drivers. And, this does not account for all the commercial drivers from leading delivery operators like UPS and Amazon who are unable to download mobile apps. Additionally, binary occupancy sensor technology located directly on city streets is proving easy to tamper with and limited in its data collection capabilities.


For these reasons, Automotus offers a suite of fully automated curb management solutions that runs on cellular-enabled cameras equipped with computer vision technology and attached to street light poles, at least 10 feet above the ground. Every camera is capable of supporting full automation by capturing a minimum of 30 frames per second for automated license plate reading (ALPR), allowing cities to automatically invoice drivers — whether individuals or companies — for the exact amount of time they use the curb. No app or meter is required, increasing compliance; minimizing distracted driving; decreasing safety hazards from double-parking; and reducing non tax deductible parking citations for fleet operators.


Additionally, this technology allows a city to get full visibility into ongoing activity at the curb and develop dynamic, equitable policies that are reflective of real-time multimodal demand. Unlike binary occupancy sensor technology, or solar-powered technology with no power source, our automated computer vision technology offers easy access to granular, real-time data on all traffic and curb activity, including parking turnover; average dwell times; occupancy rates; and all violations, including double-parked overtime, non-permitted. Each data point can then be broken down by vehicle type, including passenger, delivery, ride-hailing, bus, and bike, and distinguish between internal combustion engines (ICE) and electric to measure environmental impacts, support zero-emissions delivery zones, and create policies that incentivize EV adoption.


For more information on why fully automated solutions are a critical component of a city's curb management strategy and what cities should look out for in a curb management solutions provider, you can request our in-depth buyer's guide.