Has big business finally found its way to parking? Consider the following:
- 3M has acquired Federal APD (PARCS), PIPS (LPR), Sirit (AVI), and VES (a toll service provider located in southern California). 3M currently operates a division that focuses on transportation, but this is significant entre’ into the parking industry.
- Affiliated Computer Systems (ACS) became part of Xerox which also has a transportation division that includes commercial vehicle operations, electronic toll collections, motor vehicle services, on/off street parking, photo enforcement, public transport, and transportation management.
- Serco (the largest company you’ve never heard of) is the systems integrator behind the SFpark program.
- Zeag, which recently acquired Magnetic Corporation, was recently acquired by a large Swiss company.
Initially, I worried that this could be the end of innovation and the beginning of a new corporate mentality that might become pervasive, but then these negative thoughts were drowned out by the following:
- This investment in our industry is a reflection of the fact that parking is being recognized for the important industry that it’s become.
- New investment from large multi-national corporations will mean new advancements for the whole industry.
- The effect of thought leaders such as Don Shoup, Casey Jones, CAPP, and others has created new awareness and spurred huge government investments through agencies such as FHWA and others.
- Innovative governmental agencies such as the Seattle Department of Transportation and the Washington D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) are moving forward with creative research and implementation programs even without big federal grants.
- Transportation planners and transportation demand management (TDM) professionals are becoming more engaged with parking industry practitioners to create new partnerships.
- Universities are beginning to create sustainable transportation degree programs.
- The number of smaller technology-based start-ups are increasing and interest by venture capitalists is increasing.
After some reflection, it seems to me we are on the verge a whole new era of growth and advancement. But then, I am always so negative.