Follow this series of six posts highlighting content from the European Parking Association (EPA), presented by EPA President Nigel Williams. Nigel joins some of the EPA’s data experts and other thought leaders to bring you this content, published by EPA in September 2023, offering insight into the EPA’s data initiatives and highlighting the importance, value, and use of parking data, and shining a spotlight on the Alliance for Parking Data Standards (APDS).
Part 4: Avoiding the Tower of Babel
The need for a common language becomes even more acute when the different mobility communities – including EV charging, public transport, bike and scooter hire, car sharing, and parking – need to talk to each other. One important driver for intermodal communication of data is the EU’s ITS Directive 2010/40/EU and its Delegated Regulations, whereby each European Member State must establish a National Access Point (NAP) for mobility data that will eventually, and inevitably, include static and dynamic data on parking (location, availability, and pricing).
NAPCORE was formed two years ago to coordinate and harmonize mobility data platforms across Europe. Timo Hoffmann, general secretary of NAPCORE and an employee of the German Federal Highway Research Institute, says, “The problem with the NAPs quickly becomes apparent. If every Member State develops its own data mobility platform, with the formats and standards differing from country to country, then the collection of 30-plus NAPs resembles the Tower of Babel. We realize that trying to standardize everything would take a really long time and is not always the best thing to do, so we are trying to harmonize things while taking into account the differences between NAPs. With ever-advancing technology, it is possible to make platforms interoperable without them being the exact same. NAPCORE is the platform for facilitating pan-European mobility data exchange.”
Under the cooperation agreement that the EPA signed with NAPCORE earlier this year, the EPA and APDS are showing the way by developing a translation module that converts parking data in the APDS format into the NeTEx format (NeTEx is intended to be a general purpose XML format designed for the efficient, updateable exchange of complex transport data among distributed systems.) With the help of industry experts such as Q-Park’s Ronald Frijns, the EPA is also developing a standardized European data profile (or list of data items) that fulfills the requirements of the relevant EU Delegated Regulations and takes account of the needs of our sector.