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Parking: Itís the Next Smart Thing

October, 2019

Chris Yigit

The increase in city and urban dwelling has resulted in more cars and even fewer available parking spots. According to a recent study by Markets and Markets, the global parking management solutions market is expected to top $5.15 billion by 2023. A key driver in this growth is smart parking deployment projects which have incorporated technology into parking management. 


Cities, municipalities, law enforcement, and private parking companies are – and should be if they aren’t – incorporating automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) technology in particular to manage parking spot availability and enforce parking regulations for both on- and off-street parking. Using ALPR with parking solutions can boost enforcement efficiency with solutions like digital chalking, increased parking compliance resulting in more paid fines, and increased revenues, as well as improved customer service with more parking spot availability. ALPR ensures that only paid customers are taking up valuable spots.


ALPR Technology


The days of uniformed officers moseying in and out of lines of parked cars with a notepad should be a thing of the past. The incorporation of automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) into video surveillance and access control systems has given us smart parking, resulting in improved parking enforcement, management, and compliance.


ALPR systems include specialized cameras that capture license plate images and analytics that automate license plate reading, identification, and potential matching to license plates listed in a live database. These systems make it easier for law enforcement and for municipal and commercial organizations to locate vehicles of interest and enforce parking restrictions. 


Advanced and improved machine-learning based algorithms that have recently hit the market reduce common ALPR misreads and false positives so that end users can now realize an even greater performance. Machine learning involves teaching a device to use inputs and historical information to improve its performance without being explicitly programmed to do so. Instead of coding instructions that don’t change over time, machine learning algorithms and datasets train computers to assess, alter, and ultimately improve their own computational processes. Machine learning technology is superior to the traditional rule-based ALPR technology and its shortcomings. Machine learning ALPR technology is so advanced that ALPR devices can detect license plate backgrounds and designs which can quickly help identify state origin, saving officers valuable time.


ALPR Use in Parking Management


ALPR systems can provide both on-street and off-street parking solutions. Mount an ALPR camera on an enforcement vehicle and it can continuously scan license plates and alert officers in real time to parking violations, scofflaws, or even non-parking related notifications like Amber or Silver alert-related vehicles.


When parking rules and permits aren’t properly enforced, lots can fill up with non-paying customers, leaving paying customers without a parking spot and dissatisfied. ALPR can assist in off-street parking by recording vehicles as they enter and leave monitored lots, revealing off-street violations and lot occupancy in real-time. 


ALPR can also be used to swap a license plate for an access credential. Virtual permits can be used to grant access to an approved license plate for employees or registered visitors meaning automatic entry and no time spent stopping at a gate to enter a code or make payment. 


For Parking Access and Revenue Control Systems (PARCS) that offer real time computerized parking systems for transient and credentialed customers, an ALPR solution can be an effective way to improve customer service and prevent fraud. ALPR can track where people have parked, help long-term parking customers locate their vehicle, check how long vehicles have been parked in a lot, and identify vehicles that are wanted or designated stolen just as soon as they enter a PARCS facility. 


The Benefits


ALPR parking solutions improve parking in a variety of ways. An ALPR system can help deliver a more comprehensive approach to parking management and even help contribute to making more intelligent infrastructure investment decisions. For example, if a lot manager has historical occupancy statistics and can analyze parking patterns, that information can be used when planning maintenance or expansion.


ALPR features like digital chalking help parking enforcement officers complete patrols faster and enforce multiple parking rules simultaneously. Data captured by an ALPR system can aid in defining routes based on peak occupancy, target areas with low compliance, reduce ticketing disputes, and automatically identifying scofflaws.


Of course, the primary benefit is that ALPR systems can help parking management, attendants, and officers drastically improve overall parking enforcement operations, which in turn improves parkers’ experience. An ALPR system can help promptly address lots with the most vehicles in violation and dispatch officers to those locations to enforce and increase compliancy and make room for paying and legitimate customers. 


In Conclusion


With the right parking management solutions, parking operators can efficiently enforce regulations, improve customer satisfaction, and streamline operations, all while seeing a return on investment. Whether you’re managing parking on-street, off-street, or both, an ALPR system helps you get the job done.


Chris Yigit is AutoVu Program Manager for Genetec, Inc. He can be reached at cyigit@genetec.com.



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