Using Internet of Things (IoT) technology, kerbside management and mobility technology firm AppyParking is transforming parking for motorists and empowering local authorities to manage their assets better.
As a specialist IoT investor, Breed Reply first put money into AppyParking in 2017. The most recent funding round (£7.6 million) attracted new investment from major global companies, including Hyundai Motor Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation. Attracting high calibre partners like this is a significant milestone for a UK IoT start-up.
Aside from the quality of its technology and management, we believe what makes AppyParking incredibly attractive as an investment is that it uses IoT to solve actual real-world problems.
The predicted economic benefits of IoT run to the billions and sometimes trillions of dollars, depending on which report you read. However, in popular consciousness, IoT has become associated with consumer devices like the smart electricity meter being rolled out across the UK. However, as a device its not that smart. It tells households how much they spend and not much more. Future iterations could be smarter, for example, helping to control devices like washing machines to reduce energy spend. However, most people’s experience is of a fairly limited technology.
This kind of application has created a distorted view of IoT among some observers. As a result IoT applications can be considered as somewhat frivolous, rather than a critical technology, with the potential to transform whole industries and create new business models.
At Breed Reply, we believe IoT has the potential to be bigger than the mobile revolution. In the beginning, mobiles suffered from a similar perception problem. Mobile phones were supposedly just expensive devices for the wealthy businessman, not the mass consumer proposition that they have become.
What makes firms like AppyParking exciting and attractive, is that it solves a big problem. For cities, managing the ‘kerbside’ is a major issue. The need to control parking, and enforce restrictions is an economic and environmental issue as Cities expand. Congestion is a significant problem that reduces productivity, lowers quality of life, and puts pressure on already stretched budgets. Every year, Greater London Boroughs spend £100 million on traffic wardens. Across the UK, local authorities spend that again on managing traffic regulation orders. To change the yellow lines on a road, takes six months of consultion and review, with multiple public servants involved, resident consultation and newspaper ads, before a lick of paint is applied. What if this could be handled digitally? Rather than painting lines, drivers are informed of restrictions via apps, or through in-car navigation systems?
Inserting kerbside sensors opens up a world of possibility for councils to intelligently manage the kerbside. AppyParking offers councils a platform that can turn parking into a monthly subscription model. Rather than pay for parking from machines, enforced by wardens, what if car parking is monitored remotely and cars are billed by use. AppyParking can create an “Air Traffic Control” platform for cities with data available in real time. Councils can introduce peak and off peak parking or surge pricing at busy times with money collected without cash changing hands, or no need to check tickets. Bye, bye traffic warden.
Fleet operators such as delivery companies could access the data and buy parking licences from councils based on predicted use. This would create an incentive to better manage deliveries to reduce costs and congestion, guiding drivers to cheaper parking on less busy roads or at less congested times. Once the data has been collected, AppyParking can help monetise this further by allowing other organisations to access it. It can improve the efficiency of ride hailing apps, car sharing schemes, and car park owners. For utility providers, it can help decide when to conduct works to reduce traffic jams.
Better data means better insight, and better outcomes.
Looking even further ahead, as the autonomous driving revolution begins to take shape, cities will already have the sensor infrastructure to guide the cars. The possibilities of this kind of technology are almost limitless and will help create genuinely ‘smart’ cities.
We see hundreds of pitches from IoT companies every year. One of the questions we ask ourselves, is, does this solve a problem? Many don’t, but the few we choose to back like AppyParking have the power to be transformative. IoT can genuinely improve the world we live in which is what makes it so exciting.