Future Trends


Future Trends

Across the board, 2017 will deliver positive changes that will make our industry safer (think improved lighting in garages) and “greener” (parking apps that reduce time spent circling for a spot). And with our company’s windshield-blocking parking enforcement system – The Barnacle and its “motorist-release” feature — more convenient for all.

(With this windshield-blocking enforcement system, ticketed drivers also are able to quickly pay for a parking violation by phone without its ruining their whole day. For details, go to http://barnacleparking.com.)

Here are more changes you can expect to see this year in parking spaces and garages across the country:

Hold the phone: As technology has become ubiquitous across most industries, consumers’ comfort level with it has increased adoption rates for new apps. The technical revolution has extended to the parking industry in many forms: digital citations, pay-by-phone, pay-by-plate, and a whole host of mobile apps that allow you to do so much more with a parking spot, such as finding and sharing spaces, among many others.

In 2017, new analytics will help continue to drive efficiency and innovation, new and more efficient devices, and a number of new mobile apps to join the party. Not only will these apps allow drivers to find a spot faster, but they’re fundamentally green-friendly, as they’ll have fewer of us burning fuel and spinning our wheels unnecessarily.

Parking enforcement officer (PEOs) portrayal: Chalk it up to renewed national attention on the topic of police officer safety or to an overall shift in how parking enforcement is being presented and managed, but expect to see more PEOs and agents continue to be rebranded as “city ambassadors” this year. Where they may have once been viewed as an enemy coming to take your money, their role in communities is being reframed — by municipalities, police officers and citizens — as intrinsic to public safety and even to commerce (as parking space turnover is important for local businesses and residents).

As more people are educated about why parking regulations exist, they will come to see that PEOs and agents not only reduce illegal parking and overall traffic volume, but also are valuable members of a working city.

Safety was one of our concerns when designing The Barnacle, too, as we wanted to be sure that the PEOs and agents never have to kneel down in traffic to secure a parking “boot,” so our enforcement tool was designed to allow them to attach it from the safety of the curb, from a standing position.

Governing self-driving cars: When I hear a lot of the-sky-is-falling talk about how self-driving cars will be the death of the parking industry, reducing or even eliminating revenues, I have to laugh. Even if cars aren’t manned by real drivers, cities aren’t going to be pleased if everyone’s autonomous car is circling the block until their human returns. So while consumers have been both fantasizing and fretting about self-driving cars, which now seem less far-fetched and more certainly part of our future, the many questions about how this will all work are now going to be taken more seriously by city officials. This year, municipalities across the nation and around the world will explore the topic of self-driving cars, including how to revise municipal regulations to accommodate them, with great interest.

Look for surge pricing in parking lots to surge all over the country, but don’t expect it to come without a chorus of grumbles.


Supply and demand spaces: You can thank ride-share services for ushering “surge pricing” into popularity. There’s now a move toward it or demand-price parking for on- and off-street locations, too, whereby drivers can choose to park in a faraway location and pay less or park in a closer spot for more.

While this has proven incredibly lucrative for cities that adopt it, it’s also been touted as a way to reduce traffic congestion, pollution and distracted driving. Plus, proponents say surge pricing makes it more likely that merchants will have one or two spots open near their storefront at all times.

Look for surge pricing in parking lots to surge all over the country, but don’t expect it to come without a chorus of grumbles. Critics say it unfairly favors well-to-do drivers.


‘Smart’ parking meters continue to go mainstream: Already we’re more likely to push a credit card into a meter today than a stack of coins, and this year, the meter and how we pay for on-street parking will only continue to morph. In particular, the number of “smart” parking meters will continue to grow as more of us get up to snuff on all of their benefits — they give drivers more ways to pay, require less money to be spent on infrastructure, and ensure that there are fewer out-of-order meters to repair and fewer places from which to collect revenue. Plus, smart meters can collect and report revenue in real-time, and they’re basically vandal-proof.

While technology will persist in infiltrating every corner of the parking industry, 2017 will be a year, too, that brings parking back to the people — giving them more options to find, pay for and even “get out of” a spot.

Kevin Dougherty, President of Barnacle Parking Enforcement, can be reached through barnacleparking.com. A couple of years ago, he and Co-Inventor and Chief Investor Colin Heffron started thinking of how to improve parking enforcement. They began product development in September 2015, when they founded their company, and began the process of bringing The Barnacle to market. Pilot sites for the enforcement system include Fort Lauderdale and Allentown, PA.

Article contributed by:
Kevin Dougherty
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