In the Santa Catarina state of southern Brazil lies a hub of industry and commerce that is home to some of the most advanced companies in the world.
The Perini Business Park is the largest multi-sector facility of its type in South America, covering an area of 2.8 million square feet. It is home to more than 290 national and multinational organisations in the electronics, automotive, financial and logistics sectors, with over 10,000 people heading to the site to visit and work daily.
The business park is like a town in itself. There are 15km of roads and sidewalks and a host of facilities, including shops, food outlets and even an education hub. It is the embodiment of a modern, thriving business district.
Time-consuming access to the site
However, the Perini Business Park was seemingly “smart” in every way but one: getting access to the site by car has always been based on labour-intensive entry processes that were slow and cumbersome. Subsequently, large queues would build up at peak times, causing frustration.
The standard entry procedure for those driving to the site involved each vehicle stopping before a security gate. The driver would show their ID to park staff, driver information was checked, and the vehicle license plate, model and colour logged. The visitor would then be given a tag, and the gate opened.
This process took between 60 and 90 seconds per vehicle. This activity could result in stoppages at the entry gate at peak times – frustrating for visitors and the hard-pressed security staff alike. Park management was receiving a lot of negative feedback about the entry experience. It was, therefore, interested in speeding up the process while maintaining security.
The need for a smart access solution
The business park owners wanted to investigate a means of deploying smart IoT-based technology to overcome these problems and meet several targets and objectives.
The directive was comprehensive: the intelligent mobility and visitor management solution – which was to be powered by digitised platforms and artificial intelligence (AI) – had to vastly improve end-to-end journeys for visitors and guests. This meant delivering fast access to the site, in under 15 seconds, based on vehicle license plate recognition, while offering improved car parking management, resulting in better capacity utilisation.
The solution also needed to provide valuable statistical insights for business park management, and it had to be a scalable solution to include real-time occupancy detection. Ultimately, the business park owners wanted it to enhance the experience of visitors and guests throughout the day.
Selecting the right industrial partners
Finding a solution to the needs of the Perini Business Park required a collaborative approach involving industrial partners with core capabilities in several key areas. First, there was a requirement for embedded solutions, such as hardware computing at the edge, which would provide the fundamental building blocks for the smart parking management system. In tandem, there also needed to be specialist knowledge of access solutions for people and vehicles that could provide a fast, reliable and user-friendly entry and exit.
This combination came to life through ASUS IoT, the project orchestrator via the ASUS AIoT Partner Alliance Program. The company is known for bringing proven hardware design and software development capabilities, a complete IoT product portfolio and AI solutions, and an IPC-grade platform that would provide longevity for deployment over time. ASUS developed the hardware and AI, comprising a Tinker System, motherboard, edge computer and license plate recognition toolkit.
Meanwhile, the access solution was provided by SKIDATA, one of the world’s leading providers of advanced access solutions for vehicles and people, having provided more than 8,500 parking management installations in 97 countries, including at international airports like Amsterdam Schiphol and London Heathrow. SKIDATA’s digital solutions and high-quality hardware allow people to enter and leave destinations simply, securely and sustainably, with an emphasis on contactless technology that enhances the user experience.
Bringing the technology together
The various solutions provided by ASUS IoT and SKIDATA needed to be integrated seamlessly to deliver a robust and reliable end solution. And this is where state-of-the-art systems and technologies came into play.
In terms of the hardware, ASUS provided a compact, rugged and reliable Tinker Edge R. This comprised a small and powerful Single Board Computer that provided excellent performance for edge devices at the business park, performing up to 3 tera-operations per second with the built-in Rockchip NPU AI accelerator, using only 1.5 watts at maximum loading. Since Rockchip NPU was optimised for neural network architecture, Tinker Edge R could support multiple frameworks of machine learning models. Tinker Edge R also offered high performance and low power consumption compared to desktop-grade x86 CPU and could be used in many scenarios.
Meanwhile, ASUS IoT’s ALPR Edge AI Dev Kit represented a comprehensive automatic license-plate recognition solution. Powered by the Tinker Edge R, the ALPR solution was shown to be capable of up to 99% accuracy with high-inference performance and could be easily integrated with supporting vision-based infrastructure. This technology would provide the bedrock of contactless access to the site.
Meanwhile, in addition to the software solution, SKIDATA oversaw digital signage, onsite payment and ticket operation and barriers. Both partners managed product bundling and integration to ensure the seamless working of all systems and technologies.
Development of the solution
Close collaboration between engineering teams at ASUS IoT and SKIDATA resulted in the developing of the innovative access control and parking management system for the Perini Business Park based on digital technologies in just a few months.
The solution offered an entirely touchless entry experience. Vehicles and passengers are registered in advance for entry via a website, and license plate recognition technology means visitors can quickly pass through the barriers automatically without delay. Interactive and dynamic parking management signage then quickly directs visitors around the site to each of the individual parking lots, so that visitors and employees can save time trying to find available spaces. Ultimately, it provided a much better end-to-end user experience while also providing the site owner with valuable real-time data.
Importantly, the solution also provided the park operator with valuable data that could be used to enhance future services.
Future deployment opportunities
The Perini Business Park project is now moving towards implementation, and it will spectacularly improve entry and exit at the site and ease of parking. Furthermore, the scalable parking solution can be developed to include real-time occupancy detection, alerts, mobile payment and validation, and wayfinding, further enhancing overall operations within the park and providing the site owner with valuable data to support future operations. The solution paired perfectly to fix the pain points around getting in and out identified by park management at the start of the project. And its scalability means there are many other possibilities in the next phase.
Looking to the future, ASUS IoT and SKIDATA will continue working with complementary skills and technologies to transform access control for vehicles and people at places like sporting venues and ski resorts. For example, SKIDATA systems sell more than 70,000 ski tickets per hour annually, and its systems manage 80% of worldwide ski resorts annually. Its solutions are used in over 200 stadiums, including the Allianz Arena in Munich and the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon. There is excellent scope for ASUS IoT and SKIDATA to work together to refine and improve these processes, deploying state-of-the-art digitised platforms connected and supported by AI.
Through this project, the two companies showcased the power of partnership, and continue to explore future opportunities together. Creating these seamless access experiences with exciting technologies such as facial and number plate license recognition depends on advanced computer devices and AI algorithms. Therefore, ASUS IoT plans to continue working with SKIDATA in an integrated way.
“It has been a fantastic project,” says Thomas Pühringer, senior director at SKIDATA. “Not only did ASUS IoT bring powerful hardware and AI know-how, but it also introduced us to an excellent partnership network that brings the right people together with the right experience. This unique approach helped us focus on what we were good at. Working together on the project has been super easy and a great process so far.”
For the visitors and employees at the Perini Business Park, the solution will make life easier and improve their daily experience. That, ultimately, is the primary goal of any connected technology in smart city environments.
Silvia Kuo is Business Development Director at ASUS IoT.