Smart Parking – Can We Get a Seat at the Smart City Table


Smart Parking – Can We Get a Seat at the Smart City Table

If one sniffs around Google and enter the right words, you will find a plethora of information about “Smart Parking.” Its an off shoot of “Smart Cities” and provides a springboard for Parking Pros in cities to secure a place at the “Smart” table in their community.  The following is from a blog by a software firm “Plasma:”  Ten benefits of “Smart Parking”

  • 1. Optimized parking – Users find the best spot available, saving time, resources and effort. The parking lot fills up efficiently and space can be utilized properly by commercial and corporate entities.
  • 2. Reduced traffic – Traffic flow increases as fewer cars are required to drive around in search of an open parking space.
  • 3. Reduced pollution – Searching for parking burns around one million barrels of oil a day. An optimal parking solution will significantly decrease driving time, thus lowering the amount of daily vehicle emissions and ultimately reducing the global environmental footprint.
  • 4. Enhanced User Experience – A smart parking solution will integrate the entire user experience into a unified action. Driver’s payment, spot identification, location search and time notifications all seamlessly become part of the destination arrival process.
  • 5. New Revenue Streams – Many new revenue streams are possible with smart parking technology. For example, lot owners can enable tiered payment options dependent on parking space location. Also, reward programs can be integrated into existing models to encourage repeat users.
  • 6. Integrated Payments and POS – Returning users can replace daily, manual cash payments with account invoicing and application payments from their phone. This could also enable customer loyalty programs and valuable user feedback.
  • 7. Increased Safety – Parking lot employees and security guards contain real-time lot data that can help prevent parking violations and suspicious activity. License plate recognition cameras can gather pertinent footage. Also, decreased spot-searching traffic on the streets can reduce accidents caused by the distraction of searching for parking.
  • 8. Real-Time Data and Trend Insight – Over time, a smart parking solution can produce data that uncovers correlations and trends of users and lots. These trends can prove to be invaluable to lot owners as to how to make adjustments and improvements to drivers.
  • 9. Decreased Management Costs – More automation and less manual activity saves on labor cost and resource exhaustion.
  • 10. Increased Service and Brand Image – A seamless experience can really skyrocket a corporate or commercial entities brand image to the user. Whether the destination is a retail store, an airport or a corporate business office, visitors will surely be impressed with the cutting edge technology and convenience factors.

A buddy of mine focused on 4, 6, and 9. They spell out the WIIFM (Whats in it for me) as it relates to the consumer (Parker) and the organization that owns the parking facilities, be they municipal, university, airport, or private.

If a smart parking program can make a mundane parking experience one that can be relished, make the payment process seamless AND increase loyalty, plus decrease costs, what’s not to like.

The question is, frankly, how do we get that seat at the table.  Do we hitchhike with ‘Smart City” companies like Microsoft, Conduent, SAP, Cisco, and the rest, or do we take a leadership position by selling the benefits of “Smart Parking” as listed above.

It would seem to me that we can solidify our position by taking a lead. Unlike utilities, trash, police and fire which may benefit greatly from Smart City concepts but reflect little to the consumer (water still flows, police still show up, etc)  a “Smart Parking Program” will show consumers true benefits that are not only measurable, but also observable.

Politicians will love that.



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John Van Horn

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