Parking in the Technology Age
Automakers have enthusiastically embraced technology, regularly introducing new technologies that transform the ways we drive and park their products. In fact, the introduction of new auto technologies happens so quickly and frequently that it’s easy to take them for granted. Not too many years ago, we couldn’t have envisioned having GPS systems on our dashboards, back-up cameras, and self-parking cars. Now, we take GPS and cameras for granted, and while self-parking technology is new, it won’t be long before that’s available in most vehicles.
The arc of innovation that
has revolutionized parking has mirrored the evolution of smart phone advances.
These exciting technologies have transformed the ways we drive, but they’ve also revolutionized the ways we park. Already we can manage our parking with our cell phones, and it won’t be long before we can do it from the dashboards of our cars.
The Power of Parking is in the Palm of Your Hand
The arc of innovation that has revolutionized parking has mirrored the evolution of smart phone advances. As a result, drivers are able to use many of the most useful parking innovations with their own personal devices.
The most obvious example is mobile payment, which allow drivers to pay for parking sessions with their cell phones. The best apps recognize where the driver is parked and don’t require much effort (or technological expertise) to use. All the driver has to do is indicate how long the parking session will be. This is an important factor because if a particular technology is too difficult for a user to navigate, users aren’t likely to adopt it. In the case of mobile payment, if drivers have to track down their location and enter it into the app, it’s just as likely that they’ll grab a quarter and go looking for a parking meter. Or skip paying altogether.
Parking reservations platforms can also be accessed from personal devices. Drivers who want to be assured of a space can just bring up a prebooking program on their phones and reserve a space, paying for that space in advance through an established account.
Some parking guidance systems also offer smart phone apps to help drivers find a parking space. These apps allow parking guidance to actually start while the driver is on the move, helping to identify garages and lots with available spaces and guiding drivers to those parking facilities. And it’s not just parking guidance companies that are rolling out apps; cities across the United States are working on apps that will provide city-wide guidance for both municipal and private parking facilities to make it easier for drivers to find convenient and affordable parking close to their destinations.
The best of these apps will offer multiple consumer choices, following the example of European cities. So, for instance, parkers will be able to choose among several mobile payment technologies, using the one with which they are most comfortable. This will increase adoption and reduce the risk that parkers will skip paying because they aren’t comfortable with the technology being offered in a particular city.
The benefits of hand-held devices extend to parking owners and operators, as well. For instance, modern PARCS and parking guidance equipment usually transmits utilization information to cloud-based servers, allowing owners and operators to instantly collect utilization and performance data on their hand-held devices. Some equipment even permits remote operation from remote devices. So, for instance, if an access gate fails to open properly, an operator can open the gate from a remote location using a hand-held device. As with much in our day-to-day lives, parking owners and operators can always be connected if they choose to be.
The On-Dash Future
As with hand-held technology, mobile payment will be one of the most important on-dash parking technologies. Automakers like Volkswagen and Porsche are already developing on-dash technology that will allow for drivers to pay for parking using their vehicles’ on-board technology systems. This will dramatically simplify parking payment, and it will be a lifesaver for people who forget their smart phones.
Similarly, parking guidance technology will soon be available on our vehicle dashboards. Just as we can use on-dash GPS to get driving directions to a particular destination, we will soon be able to access city-wide on-dash parking guidance to find parking close to our destinations at the best price point.
It stands to reason that other parking technologies on which we already rely will also soon be available on our dashboards. For instance, parking pre-booking would be a natural fit, allowing us to reserve parking when we are out and about.
Automakers will have an important impact on parking technology trends in the coming years, particularly for customer-oriented technologies. They will influence innovation by choosing which technologies to include in their on-dash technology suites, and as a result, they’ll have a considerable influence on how we use technology when we drive and park. Just as Apple and Google have influenced app development by providing the platforms on which mobile apps are available, so will automakers drive parking technology development trends over the next decade.
Roamy Valera, CAPP is CEO, Canada and US for PayByPhone. He can be reached at email@example.com.