Studies of automotive traffic have shown that on average 30% of traffic in congested urban areas is due to cruising drivers looking for parking. While we have witnessed a push towards sensing technologies to monitor real-time parking availability, instrumenting on-street parking throughout a city is a considerable investment. In this paper, we present ParkSense, a smartphone based sensing system that detects if a driver has vacated a parking spot. ParkSense leverages the ubiquitous Wi-Fi beacons in urban areas for sensing unparking events. It utilizes a robust Wi-Fi signature matching approach to detect driver's return to the parked vehicle. Moreover, it uses a novel approach based on the rate of change of Wi-Fi beacons to sense if the user has started driving. We show that the rate of change of the observed beacons is highly correlated with actual user speed and is a good indicator of whether a user is in a vehicle. Through empirical evaluation, we demonstrate that our approach has a significantly smaller energy footprint than traditional location sensors like GPS and Wi-Fi based positioning while still maintaining sufficient accuracy.
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