Remote Wayfinding Know Where You’re Going, Before You Get There
To aid in the mitigation of this unnecessary traffic, wayfinding – clear direction to help navigate the public from place to place – is now being utilized progressively in parking management to communicate all available designated locations. While providing this clarity to both the general public and facility operations is crucial, traditional wayfinding does not always succeed in solving the problem.
Fortunately, next-generation technology is now being implemented to enable remote wayfinding, providing a highly accurate means to assisting parkers into their spaces efficiently and cost-effectively through the use of real-time data.
Evolution of Wayfinding in Parking
In parking facility management, wayfinding first began as digital signage posted in prominent areas and featured arrows pointing toward designated parking locations. As technology has advanced, more involved wayfinding systems were introduced within the actual parking garages. These guidance systems display how many spaces are left, both overall and by level, and even direct drivers to these open spaces by color-coded lights: red for occupied spaces, green for vacant spaces and blue for handicapped spaces.
While these systems are an improvement to static signage and have been well-received in high-volume environments – where customer satisfaction is critically important – they can be expensive to deploy, limited to garages and report only space-specific information.
Today’s advancement to extensible technology with remote wayfinding elevates parking operations, facility profits and customer satisfaction to far greater heights.
Through remote wayfinding, drivers have access to real-time updates on parking availability, and facility operators gain customized data to assist in day-to-day accounting practices and long-term trend analysis for increased revenues. Altogether, remote wayfinding significantly improves an operator’s bottom line and helps drivers quickly and easily to unoccupied parking.
What Is Remote Wayfinding?
Remote wayfinding technology accesses parking occupancy data from expertly designed sensors and feeds these real-time data into smartphone applications, custom web-based dashboards or in-vehicle navigation systems. From their homes or cars, drivers can use these live calculations to decide where to park, how to get there and, in some cases, even make reservations for a space ahead of time. This enables users to know where they’re going before they get there.
For educational institutions, healthcare facilities, parking corporations and municipalities, remote wayfinding technology enables their operators to collect invaluable car count data and facility analytics to identify permit oversell ratios, meter rate adjustments and current space availability.
Here’s how it works: Parking space availability is captured and transferred to a web-based dashboard management program (via the “cloud”). Once these calculations are fed into smartphone applications or in-vehicle navigation systems, would-be parkers remotely tap into these data and immediately gain access to all locations of available parking in any given area—meaning no more circling around the city and no more waiting in long lines to find an open space within an off-street lot.
These real-time data work not only to mitigate high-volume congestion, but also to optimize parking lot utilization for both parking operators and the general public’s benefit. This combination of interoperable data that are distributed through mobile apps and in-vehicle navigation systems enriches the parker’s experience.
A successful remote wayfinding solution combines the following data sets:
• Occupancy data.
• Reservation capabilities.
• Pay-by-phone features.
• Interaction between on-site payment technologies and third-party apps.
By integrating and employing the technologies of these extensible capabilities, remote wayfinding is transforming the parking data industry.
Benefits of Remote Wayfinding
The following four key pedestals outline the benefits of remote wayfinding, as each delivers a positive return on investment (ROI), verifiable link to ROI, and proven advantage to like-minded markets – all of which should encourage facilities to consider implementing some form of remote wayfinding capability.
Remote wayfinding saves drivers measurable time as they travel from one location to the next, while providing a monetary savings by decreasing gasoline usage from circling facilities. Less time spent on the road also translates to each driver’s vehicle contributing fewer environmentally harmful greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.
Remote wayfinding generates significant savings for both drivers and parking operators. When drivers reserve parking spaces ahead of time through a third-party smartphone app, their parking space is typically offered at a discount rate. Operators are able to offer this discount and still make money because they have real-time data detailing how many spaces they have to sell. These occupancy calculations allow them to fully maximize all vacancies and increase their facility’s revenue.
3. Customer Satisfaction – Accuracy Matters
Remote wayfinding increases customer satisfaction, as drivers can pull into the parking facility and specific space they were told would be available to them. This expectation relies heavily on accuracy. Customer satisfaction, and all other pedestals, will not stand if the system fails the accuracy test. True customer satisfaction results from 99.9% accuracy or more and nothing less than that will do, as the overall accuracy of specific occupancy will be off dramatically.
For example, 99% accurate counts will not maintain an occupancy accuracy of 98% – doing an inexplicable disservice to a larger lot of 1,000 parking spaces. If the garage has a daily “turn” of two times occupancy, the resulting entrance and exits would approximate 1,000 x 4 = 4,000 per day.
With 99% vehicle count accuracy, it would be reasonable to expect this occupancy accuracy to be calculated as follows:
4,000 entrances/exits x .01% error rate = 40-space error rate per day
1,000 capacity – 40-space error rate = 960
960 / 1,000 = 96%
Providing such inaccurate information to would-be parkers and facilities – such as a 40-space error rate per day from systems boasting 99% accuracy – will drive customers away from using the system because it lacks relevance and value in the market.
Remote wayfinding has positive implications for the environment at first deployment. As illustrated earlier, 30% of traffic comprises people circling an area trying to park. By reducing this time spent searching for parking, we are able to also decrease the vehicle’s emissions and its carbon footprint.
Case Parking, a provider of parking occupancy data collection technology, recently studied approximately 700 universities and their sustainability efforts. In this study, it was discovered that 25% to 30% of emissions come from commuters on campus and that employing remote wayfinding would decrease those emissions by 25% to 30% at first implementation with immediate effect.
As parking lots don’t often have the budget to invest in technology other than that which collects payment, any sustainability budget can be leveraged to achieve these goals and a substantial return on investment through remote wayfinding capabilities.
There is a growing awareness around the use of occupancy data in parking operations. As a result, the infrastructure to support remote wayfinding is gaining a foothold in the burgeoning parking industry. Technology and data providers have created an open architecture, knowing that they will lose or fail to gain market share if their capabilities and information are not made fully interoperable. This open architecture is exactly what a flourishing remote wayfinding system needs to disseminate information for the benefit of all in need of accurate, real-time information.
Contact John Couvrette, Vice President of Case Parking, at Jcouvrette@caseparking.com.