Bus over-stayers targeted

Sydney council’s innovative plan to detect bus drivers overstaying in restricted parking spots

Bus over-stayers targeted
Manly council's IT team were integral in developing the automated parking enforcement system

Manly Council has partnered with Microsoft to develop a system that analyses photos of buses overstaying their allotted time.

A number of parking areas in the Manly area are already being monitored by cameras to ensure bus drivers are following parking restrictions, the council announced this week.

"Council has installed a large number of smart and connected devices, including four smart parking stations, about 25 smart parking meters, 20 wireless access points and CCTV cameras, all connected by eight kilometres of fibre optic cable," Manly Council chief information officer Nathan Rogers says.

Rogers came up with the idea for what is now known as Azure Machine Learning when thinking about how the use of artificial intelligence might assist in the enforcement of parking rules.

"We’ve got Azure Machine Learning deployed in three locations across Manly at the moment and one of them is across a large bus parking zone.

"Lots of buses come to Manly to let tourists out to have a look at the beach, which is great, but we just want to make sure there’s equal access to that space for all tour operators."

The system uses CCTV to detect abnormal activity, including buses saying longer than they should and alerts parking wardens nearby.

"If it tells us there’s an anomaly, we have a script on our end that will email the right people, our Ranger’s for example, so they can immediately go and check out what’s happening at the bus bay.

"Now that we have this system, we can target patrols when they are needed and Council staff can perform other duties when they aren’t needed at those locations."

Because Manly attracts millions of tourists each year as one of Australia’s most popular seaside resort destinations, technology is increasingly vital in enabling the council to do its job effectively with limited resources.

Tour and charter operators are very supportive of the initiative as they often have trouble finding available bus bays, with other services staying longer than they should after unloading passengers.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive the ABC e-newsletter, digital magazine and other offers we choose to share with you straight to your inbox

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook