PIE 2024: Reflections and Ideas


PIE 2024: Reflections and Ideas

As advertised, PIE 2024 provided a great opportunity for making connections. The organization of the conference was flawless: from speed networking to seminar scheduling to facilitating discussions on the exhibit floor. As a new entrant in parking management, and a first-time attendee and speaker at PIE, it was a particularly valuable experience for me. Most participants were from municipal and university parking operations. For me, coming from an experience base in private property parking management, PIE provided a tremendous opportunity to learn about the broader market. 


As an exhibitor, our PatrolWorks with LPR offering was probably somewhat of a novelty item. Interestingly in “Sources of Innovation” (Eric von Hippel), the researcher argues that the innovations are often more than just a technological advance. Frequently, innovations result at the “intersection” (synergistic interaction) of multiple planes of knowledge – e.g., lead customers, technology experts, IT gurus, materials specialists, and insights from other industries. With this as the point of departure, I have outlined a few ideas from my time at PIE: perspectives from private parking that might spark some even better ideas that could be applicable for public parking operations?? 


Idea 1: Could integrated mobile LPR enforcement solutions – with options for both citations and impounding – be beneficial in increasing available parking capacity? In some conversations at PIE, tickets/receipts from pay stations placed on the dash were preferred as evidence of parking permission. Other operators relied on meters. In some conversations, the vehicle license plate was captured in the payment process and used as the permit, which then enabled the use of mobile LPR to identify violators – typically for citations. 


What if …. Parking permitting used the vehicle license plate. AND, there was mobile LPR enforcement/patrolling that could trigger both citations and impounding for violations. The solution could be integrated such that violations were automatically forwarded to companies that would provide responsive impounding. 

• More frequent patrolling becomes practical with mobile LPR. What is often a manual, visual walk-around process looking for vehicles that are NOT on a list (violators) is replaced with spotter vehicles equipped with state-of-the-art camera systems to digitally identify vehicles in violation. 

• Based on policy criteria, violations could trigger a citation (first offense?) or impounding (repeat offender?).

• Impounding would remove the vehicle illegally consuming a scarce parking space, making it available for others and generating higher revenues for the parking operator.


What if ….. Parking management – enforcement and (optionally) permitting – was outsourced to a third-party security organization? 

• The “process outsourcing” option could be divided by segments of the parking scope – e.g., by community and/or by lot – to instill competitive pressure for high quality and customer centric performance. 

• The professional security organization would manage the LPR patrolling. It would also manage the “arms-length” contracting with multiple impounding companies (avoiding any appearance of conflicts of interest) to provide visibility on performance. 

• If the security organization was also responsible for permitting, their remit could include dynamic pricing to match variability in demand. By integrating permitting and enforcement, there would be a closed loop process – single source, “one throat to choke.” 


Idea 2: Is there an opportunity to reduce the capital intensity in parking management by transitioning more quickly from “hardware” to “software”? Discussions were prompted among operators at PIE looking to expand the coverage of individual pay stations to more parking spaces – i.e., more spaces along a curb or fewer stations in a lot. Some attendees were looking to avoid expenditures on gated entrances and exits, often equipped with pay stations and/or fixed LPR implementations. Maybe there is a “clean sheet” approach that avoids much of the hardware?


What if …. Parking had more “credit card” only spaces and lots, with the objective of shifting (pay to park) permitting to an online process, with the customer using their cell phone rather than a pay station? This could also provide added customer convenience for the use of “wallets” such as Apple Pay and Google Pay – cost effectively.

• Many parking garages and airport lots have already implemented “credit card only” lanes.

• Pew research estimates that the vast majority of Americans (97 percent) own a cell phone and nine in ten own smartphones. 

• From our experience, for over 40 percent of payment transactions at Pay to Park lots using PatrolWorks (private parking), customers are using a mobile device “wallet” that the vehicle owner has pre-configured on their mobile device with credit cards. 

• A forward-looking permitting strategy could accomplish permitting requiring only a browser on the mobile device (no app) – and already in the pocket of the vehicle operator. 

• Customers would scan a QR code and be directed to a secure, online site to enter their license plate and make payment. (QR code fraud concerns can be mitigated with daily tracking.)

• The license plate becomes the permit for LPR patrolling. 

• This could also be integrated with other permitting sources such as monthly or annual permitting, and permit information would flow directly to mobile
LPR enforcement. 


What if… Hardware-intensive “preventative” solutions – such as gated entry and exits with pay stations and/or LPR solutions – could be shifted to lower cost “behavioral modification” strategies that make owners cognizant of and responsive to the consequences of illegal parking? 

• For example, could a gated downtown, university,
or airport lot be converted to online Pay to Park (scanning a QR code) with frequent mobile LPR patrolling and enforcement? The equipment installation and maintenance costs would be reduced dramatically. Delays when entering or exiting would be eliminated. And vehicles in violation could be impounded or immobilized. 

• Some attendees reported their LPR systems notify them if an illegal vehicle enters a garage. But then what – an Easter Egg hunt to locate the vehicle and immobilize it? If the garage was Pay to Park using QR codes (and capturing LP data), then enforcement/patrolling with mobile LPR would identify and execute the policy for violations.

• Another example: an HOA could implement online permitted parking (e.g., nominal cost for curb parking, premium price by the pool, and guest permitting priced based on duration). Permitting would include LP information and mobile LPR patrolling could be focused on times when violations are prevalent. Details on vehicles identified as in violation would be forwarded automatically to the company responsible for impounding.

• Note: from our limited experience, the news of impounding spreads quickly and changes behavior. 


Jim Shellhaas, President, PatrolWorks, is the founder of Ranger SST (in 2005) which is the SaaS platform upon which the new PatrolWorks with LPR solution for private property parking management has been built. He can be reached at jshellhaas@rangersst.com.

Article contributed by:
Jim Shellhaas, Ranger SST
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