What Does Parking Have in Common with the U2 Spy Plane?


What Does Parking Have in Common with the U2 Spy Plane?

The response to the question posed in the title can be answered two ways. The first answer is summed up in the words, “Convergence of Technology,” which, in short is bringing together previously unrelated technologies, often in a single device. The best example of a convergence of technology is the cellphone. When cellphones first rolled out, they were designed only to make and receive phone calls. But today, the cellphone is so much more.

The second way to answer the question is summed up in a name; Balu Subramanya, a former NASA engineer, and Founder of CivicSmart, which is the parent company of Duncan Parking Technologies. With skills crafted while working on U2 projects, Balu set out to create an efficient way to manage on-street and surface lot parking, changing the enforcement-based model in use since 1935, to a more user-friendly, consumer-based, transactional model. It also offers CBD merchants the opportunity to become actively engaged. 

It is no secret that on-street parking is a major frustration for people. Each parking experience is a combination of struggling to find parking, depending on pure luck to find a space, playing the odds of getting a citation, dealing with payment methods, and oftentimes confusing curb signage. Mobile apps lessen the pain for some, but it can still be an unpleasant experience overall. 

While city managers understand that a well-managed on-street parking program boosts the city’s economy, the challenge of knowing how to purpose each piece of curb real estate for its highest value use is daunting. This is primarily due to lack of real data and forecasting demand patterns. A section of curb space may be best used by short-term business visitors in the middle of the day, lane traffic during rush hour, and by event patrons in the evenings. But a nearby section may have a different profile. 

As NASA often does, to solve these challenges, we went back to basics, asking a series of fundamental questions.


 Why can’t a parking transaction be a simple purchase instead of a gambling exercise? Why can’t enforcement be fairer for people who intend to follow the rules? Why does a PEO need to walk a beat? Why can’t a motorist be guided to an open space? Like most good solutions, the answers turned out to be simple: it is all about data, having the right information at the right time. Timely and accurate data about when and which car occupies a space solves the problems for motorists, city managers, and local communities. 

Our Automated Parking System (CAPS) builds on advanced sensors to scan two parking spaces and combines with embedded specialized cameras and AI platform to identify each parking session. The powerful AI at the edge can also recognize the make and model of the vehicle and works in all conditions. The solution is all wireless and solar powered avoiding expensive civil works.

Motorists can find open spaces ahead of time. Just “park and walk” with linked accounts or pay after the fact at a convenient time. With CAPS, cities receive extensive demand pattern data and analytics to manage curb space, enforce consistently and courteously by providing multiple payment opportunities, increase efficiency, reduce handicapped placard abuse, and manage loading zones. The system is integrated with partner solutions for registered owner retrieval and transmission of notices by mail. 

CAPS aesthetically blends into the sidewalk’s furniture zone and is available in three form factors. Standalone 30” tall x 5.5” square bollard, a 12” x 5.5” pole attached version, and a flat, curb-mounted version. The “zero-footprint” curb sensor can even be used in narrow sidewalks without obstructing pedestrian movement. The system is compatible with marked and unmarked parallel spaces, straight-in, and angled parking geometries. 

CAPS works well with existing payment and enforcement systems, and the automation capabilities can be phased-in gradually to avoid a disruptive change. For example, a city may continue placing tickets on the windshield and utilize the system for “Directed Enforcement” so PEOs with real-time violation maps can skip scanning every car and proceed directly to the violating vehicle, saving valuable time and improving PEO morale. Our experience shows that PEOs walk 30 percent less and improve productivity over 300 percent with a directed enforcement system. 

This future of curb management can be thought of as the on-street equivalent of “Electronic Tolling”. Explore how this innovative solution can deliver truly smart parking to your operation. 

John Miskell is Vice President, Sales at Civic Smart. He can be reached through sales@civicsmart.com.

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John Miskell
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