Parking Goes Smart, and Needs Smart People
We are only just beginning to realize the potential benefits of smart cities. From improvements in public safety to sustainable and seamless transportation and mobility options to enhanced services for citizens and residents, the opportunities to raise the quality of life for people living in cities seems limitless.
By and large, smart city initiatives rely on technology. Using a combination of data sensors, networks and complex decision-making processes that enable real-time or near real-time monitoring and adjusting of existing infrastructure, municipal leaders can better manage what is going on in their cities. For example, if there is a particular area of the city that is experiencing a traffic issue, the city manager can change the stop light pattern to reduce congestion and ease the flow of traffic.
The smart city trend’s impact is HUGE, and it’s affecting us in parking.
We see the effects of the smart cities movement in the parking industry all around us. It has affected not only the products that the parking industry offers, but also who we do business with, who the players in the industry are, and even the viability of parking companies.
But it goes a step further in its reach.
The smart city trend is also affecting the types of professionals needed in the industry and skill sets required for employment in parking. As cities become smarter and as parking services must continue to adapt, the number of traditional tech jobs will continue to grow, along with countless hybrid positions that utilize skills across multiple job categories.
Technology Drives Parking into the Future
In the near future, technology will remain the backbone in modernizing our parking operations. As such, both smart cities and companies who want to be competitive will need IT, telecommunication and technology professionals to function. In other words, in our new reality, we need talent to be technologically fluent.
However, finding said talent for these smart city projects is becoming a real struggle. According to an October 2017 report by CompTIA, “Building Smart Cities and Communities,” 40 percent of government officials see the lack of technical expertise as a primary challenge to launching smart city initiatives.
Cities and companies need people to plan and implement their smart technologies. It takes people who have the right skills to make it happen, especially when it comes to selling, implementing, or leveraging Athe data that goes along with making a parking operation “smart.”
The ‘In-Demand’ Skills in Parking
I took an audit of the career listings from a dozen parking industry companies and of the major parking industry job boards (Parking Today, Parking Network, NPA’s and IPI’s career pages). The following are some of the more common skill sets that parking industry employers are looking for:
• All things related to data – From entering to extracting to analyzing to making inferences to keeping the data secure, municipalities have data needs, but even more importantly, need people to deal with their data. That, of course, also means there are companies that completely revolve around helping cities deal with the data and, so, there are jobs at those companies, too. If you are looking to gain some skills to future proof yourself – just build up your data skills and you will almost assuredly be guaranteed a job for the next 20 years in the parking or smart cities space.
• License plate recognition, mobile payments, wayfinding, and guidance – Familiarity with these technologies is listed as “preferred” and in some cases “required,” even for non-technical roles such as parkingmManagers overseeing a municipal or campus parking operation. So, if you start to break out in hives at the thought of dealing with a complex software systems day in and day out – managing a parking operation may not be the thing for you because we are only getting more connected and more reliant on such technologies.
• Technical skills – Hardware isn’t gone yet and there are still a lot of components, devices, and sensors that make up a smart city and a smart parking operation. Knowing how to install, configure and maintain parking systems and equipment remains a highly valuable skill set in today’s job market.
• Communication skills – Just because we are going all high tech doesn’t mean we can forget that we are, first and foremost, human beings. Communication skills are top of mind among employers. You need to be able to write, not only formal documents and presentations, but also a simple clear and concise emails. Verbal communication skills are just as important to be able to facilitate meetings, give presentations to small or large audiences, or negotiate one of those public-private partnerships we all like to talk about.
Smart cities bring great opportunities for the parking industry and those who work in it. You can carve a space for yourself within this exciting sector if you are willing to develop and maintain ‘smart’ skills, engage in learning, and be ready to adapt to the exciting and changing parking industry.