Making Cities Smarter
Wikipedia defines a Smart City as “an urban area that uses different types of electronic methods and sensors to collect data…to manage assets, resources and services efficiently; in return, that data is used to improve the operations across the city.” Data is “then processed and analyzed to monitor and manage traffic and transportation systems … and other community services.” Makes perfect sense that parking garages and lots would fit this model seamlessly, right? Standardized, scalable technologies will drive efficiencies and feed analytical systems that make decisions to optimize pricing, space availability and traffic management systems. The future is going to be great.
While convenient for the parker, online sales come at a steep cost to the facility owner.
But wait a second…
If you’re actively involved the parking industry, just think about the day-to-day. Sure, the industry has improved from the old days, when cashiers collected revenue and manually filled out their daily shift reports. But a gap remains between that model and the needs of the future “smart” city:
1- Customer Data - Customers increasingly turn to online parking “aggregators” to purchase their parking for the same reasons they buy anything else online. However, the facility owner and operator lack access to data regarding their online customers - so it’s impossible to make informed pricing or marketing decisions, or to understand customer service needs.
2- Revenue Erosion - While convenient for the parker, online sales come at a steep cost to the facility owner. Aggregators charge commissions and fees as high as 28 to 30 percent of the net rate in some markets, since commission is based upon a percentage of the gross parking rate. This cuts into the owner’s profitability, making property reinvestment - the very thing that drives innovation - more difficult.
So where do you start to solve this puzzle? Since the key to a Smart City is data, we started there. Realizing the pricing and data restrictions of current market solutions, we created a sophisticated, affordable platform called ParkChirp that provides the critical data points that property owners and cities need as they move forward in the 21st Century. Among many other innovations, ParkChirp gives owners and operators real-time access to the data (including email addresses, zip codes, length of stay, and purchase history) with a simple, easy-to-use customer interface to search for and purchase parking. Since the savings can be passed along to the consumer, national adoption has been rapid; operators and owners can now collect detailed parker data for data and analytic purposes - a big step forward in the goal for a successful Smart City.
According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), public transportation declined by over 76 percent in Q2 2020 compared to Q2 2019. While this trend may slowly reverse, cities are actively looking for ways to collect parker data to track trends, project future volumes for planning and improvements, and provide an improved parker experience. In the new “normal”, it will important to partner with a team that understands the importance of data, with a product that can provide usable, accurate data to achieve your Smart City goals.
Erik Eloe is a member of the Parking Advisor’s Team. He can be reached at email@example.com.