Privacy in Parking


Privacy in Parking

Pick your poison: wine, roses, or gourmet chocolates. None of these items are enough to make most people forgive a breach of trust. 

Not surprisingly, your customers are no exception. 

Merry from Maryland asks a good question about parker privacy and data collection. 

Dear Kevin, 

I was approached by a technology company that wants to run my parking location, but after doing a bit of Googling, there are quite a few complaints about their approach to customer privacy. Does privacy really matter in parking? 

Merry in Maryland 

Hello Merry, 

Great question. While it might seem a bit counterintuitive, customer privacy is a crucial part of any quality parking management program. You might ask, “how can a vehicle everyone can see be considered private?” 

A publicly parked vehicle is rarely private; the whole idea of a license plate is to publicly identify the vehicle. But what is, or at least should be private, is the information about the people driving and parking the vehicle. 

Details such as name, address, parking location, payment information, and even aggregated parking activity should be kept private.  

Additionally, in almost every situation, beyond the crazy people in the parking industry, parking is not the primary activity a person is there to do. They are parking to do something else. 

So, while the parking itself might not reveal anything personal, the fact that you are repeatedly parking to visit the specialist doctor’s office which the parking location serves undoubtedly does. 

The cost of parking your vehicle shouldn’t also include details about your private life. By providing privacy by default in your service offerings, you increase your customers’ trust overall. Let’s face it, most parkers don’t need another reason to dislike parking and the people who run parking. 

One of the first steps to protect the privacy of your parkers is to create, publish, and follow a privacy policy for your organization. This document should outline how your organization keeps data about your customers private. 

At a minimum, your privacy policy should outline what data you have, who has access to that data, how long you keep the data, and how customers can learn more about your privacy policies. 

You, of course, can add more to this policy, and depending on your state, city, or organizational type (public vs. private), you might have regulations on other items that need to be included in this policy. 

Once you have created a policy, have it reviewed by whoever provides legal assistance. 

After legal reviews it, and you gain any other needed approvals, post your policy on your website, train your staff on what that policy means, make any procedural changes required to comply with this policy (which could also include requiring changes from your vendors) and finally, review your policy annually (and repeat the steps above). 

A privacy policy should not be something completed once and then put into a drawer. It should be one of the guiding values of your organization. 

Like any other relationship, it is always easier to avoid breaking trust than to repair it. 

You might never need to answer questions about how you treat your customer data from a news reporter or city leader. 

Still, if you ever do, a high-quality, well-executed privacy policy will go a whole lot further than a box of chocolates to help you build and keep trust with your customers, staff, and community.


If you have any questions that you would like answered in this column or have additional questions about parking privacy policies, please reach out to 

Article contributed by:
Kevin Uhlenhaker
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