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Covid 19

In times of crisis Innovation thrives

April, 2020

John Van Horn

I received this note from Spot Parking’s CEO Elizabeth Zealand. If you have any innovation that has emerged during this crisis let me know…JVH


Code the curb company Spot Parking knows what it’s like to adapt. As a scale-up operating across the U.S. and Australia, Spot feels fortunate to be an agile, tech-based company who can effectively work with customers remotely and give something back, no matter how small, in these difficult times.


To help support local businesses who can now only provide takeaway services, Spot partnered with a large Australian city to provide a COVID-19 interactive map, where the city can show the community new curbside restrictions to support pick-ups rather than parking, and local restaurants and pharmacies can communicate their new operating hours and offers to the local community.


Businesses that are still operating within the restricted guidelines need the ability for their customers to receive quick and safe curbside pick-up. Retailers such as supermarkets have introduced special trading hours for the elderly or vulnerable to be given priority service, and there was a need to communicate this along with the curbside restrictions.


“As a tech company, the ability to work on this with a city to help their citizens at this time has been an amazing experience, said Spot CEO Elizabeth Zealand. “It was the City’s innovative suggestion to adapt our current digital curbside and campus platform to allow for real time input from affected local businesses”


Drawing on Spot’s digital curbside mapping and visualization technology for cities, coupled with real time notifications of parking changes built for Ohio State University, the team were able to design and build the site within days.


“The Spot team are very used to working remotely as we are located across the U.S. and Australia, but this was a new way of working for our city client, Elizabeth added.


“With so much of our industry in deep pain right now, this was a welcome innovation and our chance to play a small part in helping cities keep their local economy going whilst keeping citizens safe.”


Hiatus


A


 temporary gap, pause, break, or absence can be called a hiatus. When your favorite TV show is on hiatus, that means there are no new episodes — not forever, just for a little while. … If someone has to leave her job for a time, she’s going on hiatus.


Rather than look at the upcoming month or two as the complete destruction of our industry, perhaps we could look at it as a hiatus. A temporary pause. A forced one granted, but a temporary one nevertheless.


Only the most pessimistic among us would believe that this interruption in our business is permanent. Painful, yes. In some cases it means laying off staff members, in others a deep reduction in whatever resources that had been put aside for emergencies. Well, this is an emergency.


I doubt if this hiatus will be long term. My prediction is that it will be weeks rather than months. It will not end as it began, like the flipping of a switch. We were told that we must ‘social distance’ and in a very few days our industry was brought to a screeching halt. There were no cars to park, no drivers to charge to park, no cars to valet, nothing, zero, zip. The tens of thousands of employees had literally nothing to do. There was no money to pay them. They, too, were forced into hiatus.


We shouldn’t forget that operators aren’t the only ones affected by the hiatus. Vendors, suppliers, consultants, all have their work slowed, and thus their income. There are no tickets to spit, few citations to write, no meetings to attend, (remember that pesky social distancing), and because of the ‘SD’, extreme difficulty in making presentations about new products and services. We may think we can proceed without interruption digitally, but there is no replacement for face to face discussions.


When the virus withdraws, and it will, life will return to normal. But it will do so slowly, perhaps over a period of weeks, if not a few months. We won’t get an ‘all clear’ and head off to a bar or restaurant to celebrate the end of the pandemic. This may not be a bad thing. We will have the opportunity to end the hiatus in such a way that will remove the pain, not increase it.


If you look at the definition of hiatus above, the key word is temporary. This is temporary. It is also an opportunity. We are being forced to take a look at our organizations, our people, and our industry and rethink just how we are approaching our business.


When we come back, we will be smarter, stronger, and better. It may seem cliché as we take our dog for the fourth walk of the day, but when it is over, we will be gifted with a new beginning. Not a completely bad thing.


Make good use of this hiatus.


JVH



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