Do Garages Need to be More than a Place to Park?
Recently, parking garages have been asked to be more than just a place to park. Take Sacramento State University, for example. The COVID-19 pandemic introduced the challenge of social distancing and changed their traditional campus routine. They evolved and decided to transform one of their parking garages into a Wi-Fi hotspot for students who don’t have internet access. Nearly 100 students enter the garage every day and can study while staying safe in their vehicles.
With or without a pandemic nipping at their heels, parking garages have already been forced to evolve.
Whether it is to morph into a medical facility or transition into a temporary virtual campus library, this pandemic has proven how quickly garages may need to change and how important signage can be to support those changes. Change is hard, but adding wayfinding signage can help ease insecurities we feel when going somewhere new or different. That’s because signs tell us we are still going in the right direction.
Wayfinding signage around campus can guide students to the new place they can safely study, or even where they can charge their electric vehicles while they study. With or without a pandemic nipping at their heels, parking garages have already been forced to evolve and that has included - embracing the plug.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming more popular, and by 2030 (right around the corner) Edison Electric Institute is projecting 18.7 million EVs will be on the road in the U.S. In 2019, 330,000 EVs were sold, which helps justify this projection. To support all 18.7 million EVs on the road by 2030 it is estimated that 9.6 million charging ports will be needed. That puts a huge opportunity in front of us to get involved in developing the EV charging infrastructure.
If that many EVs are going to be pulling into parking spaces over the next 10 years, choosing the correct signage to display where to charge your vehicle may quickly become a necessity. I’ve learned from personal experience and from working with our partners that nobody likes to circle a seven-level garage looking for that one space, and if you have an EV your options can be even more limited. Cities and universities with EV charging spots can benefit now by installing new signage that promotes their commitment to advance with technology and embrace EVs.
ECO Parking Technologies, based in Indianapolis, IN, had two recent projects that involved EV requirements at the University of Florida and the City of West Palm Beach. Both of these projects had multiple garages with the need to display not only how many spaces are available on each level of the garage, but also where and how many EV charging stations are available.
While some garages may want the sign to read EV, some folks may not understand the abbreviation and benefit from imagery instead. Since the EV symbol has not been standardized nationwide, Signal-Tech worked with Eco Lighting and their clients to develop an EV symbol and a custom color palette to allow each parking area to be uniquely and easily identified. These signs give parkers a preemptive space count for each parking type before entering the garage. For the patrons of these garages, being informed has decreased the amount of wasted time looking for a spot, especially for those looking for specialty parking spots.
As technology and customer expectations evolve, so must we as equipment suppliers. We’ve learned that adding count and wayfinding signage to a system not only complements new technology, like mobile parking apps, it also positively impacts the overall customer experience. Clear identification of the parking amenities your garage offers will bring more parkers to your establishment.
Adding count signs and wayfinding signs can help you manage usage growth by keeping your patrons informed and also decreasing the amount of time it takes parkers to find a spot, whether it is a traditional spot, vehicle charging, handicap, or something new we haven’t thought of yet. Let’s continue to change and adapt to create the best parking experience and embrace the opportunity to become more than just a place to park.
Ryan Hildebrand is Technical Sales manager at Signal-Tech. He can be reached at email@example.com.