Peter at PIE: “It Ain’t Rocket Science’


Peter at PIE: “It Ain’t Rocket Science’

Editor’s note: Peter Guest, PT’s European Editor-at-Large, will speak at PIE 2015. Europe is often the proving grounds for technology years before it appears in the U.S.. Peter will tell you what to expect, and what not. He’s funny, he’s sarcastic, and he tells it like it is. If you want to find out what you will be using as technology in the next five years, this is the seminar to attend. JVH
When JVH invited me to come to PIE 2014, he invited me to speak about pretty much the same subject as this year’s session. So to revisit the same topic 12 months on gives me a real challenge – and an opportunity to look around at what’s going on over here, and there, and in fact everywhere that’s not America.
I look forward to giving you my take on what’s going to be heading your way, hopefully without repeating myself.
(The 2015 Parking Industry Exhibition, sponsored by Parking Today, will be March 29-April 1 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, IL.)
 Having looked back a year to see what was covered then, I’m surprised at just how much new stuff there is to tell you about.
Last year, I tried to cover a pretty broad range of stuff, including:
The parking facility, how it’s built and what goes into it to make it work.
How new types of vehicles and new forms of motor power will affect the way we look at accommodating the car in our facilities.
Parking and revenue control systems and things to do with paying for parking.
How we use street space and how we manage that use.
The technology and techniques of parking management and enforcement, including protection for front line staff.
A year on, and what’s happened? The answer is a lot, and in the time available in the PIE 2015 session. I will try to give you all an update on what’s happening out there.
One of the most interesting things to me is to see how, out there in the world, the attitude toward parking is changing.
Governments are, perhaps for the first time, recognizing parking’s importance as a major part of how we think about and plan for urban transport, and several countries are actively pursuing plans to develop parking master plans as a constituent part of urban transport planning. I want to talk about this, and what it could mean for our industry if “market forces” are replaced by “political diktat.”
Last year, I spoke about how the philosophy of carpark structural design was evolving in the UK, and in particular how attitudes toward materials were evolving, with particular emphasis on sustainability and re-usability. A year on, and we have moved further forward with carparks that turn into urban gardens and the use of lighting to make the carpark an art form as well as a facility.
Has petrol/diesel had its day as a fuel source? Is the electric vehicle forever “tomorrow’s solution?” Or, as an industry, should we build in a battery-powered future, and if so, how? Other fuel systems are available, and each in turn presents its own challenges, and opportunities.
Cash is king. Cash is dead – long live the credit card. Neither of these statements is true, but PARCS manufacturers are all hell-bent on responding to client pressure to get cash out of the system because if it isn’t there, it can’t be stolen and doesn’t have to be collected and handled.
Trouble is, just because someone has a card, should they be forced to use it? And what about the cellphone? We all have one, but should I be required to have a phone, or a card, in order to use my car? Neither “solution” is mandated in law, and remember, guys, we are a service industry; i.e., we serve people.
Last year, we heard a lot about the SFpark parking management project and the marvelous stuff they did in San Francisco. Trouble is, there are other views, including one comment that they spent $56 million and got a really neat logo.
Using, managing and enforcing street space is a complex, multi-faceted issue, and I’m not sure anyone has really got this right yet. But, at PIE 2015, let’s talk about what’s being done elsewhere, and whether there’s anything to learn from overseas.
A year on, and the technology of parking has advanced, of course, and I will try to bring you up-to-date on some new ideas from around the world.
The trouble is, in the U.S., ideas that work elsewhere tend to fall over when confronted with some uniquely American ideas about how the world should work. I will flag some of these issues, and if a few sensible people sat down in a room, I am sure that your world could become a lot easier to deal with.
As the guy said, “It ain’t rocket science.”
(And just like last year’s session, there will be a question at the end, with a prize for the best answer, so make sure you pay attention!)
Peter Guest, a Consultant in the UK, is PT’s Editor-at-Large on all things British, European, Middle Eastern and Indian. Contact him at


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