Pittsburgh using autonomous vehicle data to track parking trends in Strip District
Aaron Morris’ first car was a 1987 Pontiac Firebird that he started driving in high school.
Now he’s using it to map the congested parking situation in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.
Morris and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto on Monday announced that the city will use parking data supplied by Allvision, a geospatial analytics startup company headquartered in East Liberty and co-founded by Morris, to improve parking in the Strip.
Peduto said the Strip is changing rapidly with $500 million worth of development planned or underway. He said it means the city will have to find better ways of providing safe streets for bicyclists and pedestrians and parking spots for drivers.
“The partnership with Allvision will give us the ability to see in real time what is happening as it regards to parking, to use that data to make informed decisions and then to make adjustments accordingly,” Peduto said. “This partnership with Allvision will help us to get real results… of knowing where parking is available, where it isn’t, how people are interacting with the built environment and then making changes and adjustments according to data.”
Pittsburgh is paying for the information, but officials could not immediately provide the total cost.
Allvision used information supplied by one of the city’s autonomous vehicle companies, which Morris declined to identify, to map parking trends among 60 blocks between 16th and 25th streets, Penn Avenue and Smallman Street and cross streets. Surveys happened on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays during peak hours, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
It found, among other things, that the area contains about 387 parking spaces and that Sundays are the hardest days to find a spot with 88 percent of all spots taken. The hardest times, other than holidays, to find a space throughout the week is noon to 1 p.m.
Some streets such as 24th between Penn and Smallman were parked to over capacity. The survey uncovered a 115 percent usage rate for space on 24th street, indicating that drivers parked there illegally.
Morris described the Strip as “one of Pittsburgh’s most notorious parking issue havens.”
“Every time a car passed by we looked at what was parked there, and we checked that against what the parking rules said,” Morris said. “Tremendous insights kind of came up from there, one of which is if it’s unmetered street Pittsburghers are great about over parking. If it fits seven cars, they’ll make sure it fits eight almost all the time.”
He said Allvision would continue mapping and compiling data, and he hopes to expand to other congested city neighborhoods.
His 1987 Pontiac Firebird, dubbed Alvn, was totally restored to look like one used in the television series Knight Rider, which ran from September 1985 to April 1986, and was outfitted with a super computer to fight crime.
The car is outfitted with a sensor that can be easily removed and attached to another vehicle.
“You will be seeing us driving around here with Alvn,” Morris said.
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .