About The Parking Matters Blog

The Parking Matters® Blog is a new platform for parking and transportation professionals to share ideas, voice opinions, inspire, enlighten, educate, and inform. In addition to a growing list of regular contributing bloggers, we’ll feature guest bloggers from related fields. We hope reading – and commenting on -- the Parking Matters® Blog becomes a productive part of your weekly routine, and one you enjoy.

Global Warming: Does It Matter?

Jeff_Pinyot

If you want good dinner conversation, place at least one liberal and one conservative together at a dinner table and insert a bottle of Pinot Grigio, a nice appetizer, and perhaps the suggestion of global warming for conversation.

The parking industry is often referred to in discussions of the effects of environmental change, so it seems that we have the right to have an opinion on the subject.  When our company is asked what environmental effect our lights have on carbon emissions, we often equate it to X numbers of cars being taken off the road. It actually seems a little stupid to tell Parking Company A that if they use our lights, it will be like taking 50 cars (paying customers) off the road.  I know it really doesn’t effect the number of cars in actuality, but it does seem like a silly analysis given the facts.  Perhaps we should talk about the effect as X number of new trees planted.

We’re not the only ones to have opinions on the environment, of course. Why is it that every celebrity believes himself to be an authority? Could you imagine George Clooney saying, “In ‘Gravity,’ I played an astronaut, which means that I would have probably gone to Purdue University, which means that I should probably be pretty smart, so I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that global warming is for real…I think.”

Silly, right? Here’s what he really said: “If you have 99 percent of doctors who tell you ‘you are sick’ and 1 percent that says ‘you’re fine,’ you probably want to hang out with, check it up, with the 99. You know what I mean? The idea that we ignore that we are in some way involved in climate change is ridiculous. What’s the worst thing that happens? We clean up the earth a little bit? What’s the worst thing that happens? We clean up the earth a little bit?”

I agree with him: cleaning up the earth is a good thing no matter what you believe about climate change. The bottom line is, we should leave the world in at least the same shape as we got it, no worse, and preferably better.

The Growing Green Movement

I just returned from a week-long cruise with my wife and four children. A cruise is not really classified as a green activity. The immense consumption that takes place on board as compared with the desperate poverty that can be witnessed in virtually every port is a cataclysmic reality-check of the wide crevasse between the haves and the have-nots of this unequal world.

One could overthink this cultural divide, or one could look to learn lessons from the people and societies of the various ports of call. I chose the latter.

It has been said over and again that out of poverty comes ingenuity. That was seen in spades along the way in beautiful artwork made from scrap metals to beautiful papers made from recycled fabric. What really showed in the ports of call was the pride of the artisans.

What we call the green movement in the U.S. came out of our consciousness (because of our plenty), but in these developing areas, it comes from necessity. Could we do better? Absolutely! What new renewables can we embrace moving forward? Three that caught my eye on the trip were cork, bamboo, and hemp.

Cork: Cork farmers harvest the outer layers of a cork tree every nine to 12 years. The bark grows back and can be re-harvested up to 12 times from a single tree. A cork tree is not killed in the action of harvesting the product, which is completely renewable. It is as durable and long-lasting as leather and has a very promising future.

Bamboo: The bamboo tree can grow up to four feet in a single day. Bamboo is a great product for flooring and other building products and some of the softest clothing you can buy. This product, raised properly, will play a vital role in the future economy.

Hemp: Hemp’s rapid growth cycle and strong characteristics make it a wonderful product for making textiles and building materials. Look to see hemp take a strong role in the future. Check out the age of this comment from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture:

“Hemp is the miracle plant of our time, breathing in four times the carbon dioxide (CO2) of trees during its quick 12-14 week growing cycle. Trees take 20 years to mature vs 4 months for Industrial hemp! Our forests are being cut down 3 times faster than they can grow! One acre of hemp produces as much cellulose fiber pulp as 4.1 acres of trees!” (Dewey & Merrill. Bulletin #404. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. 1916)

What does all this mean for parking? That remains to be seen–greening has a big future ahead, and it’s going to be a great ride.

Tea and Parking: What’s the Deal?

JC Porter, Parking and Transportation, Bronco Snapshot, cq

Success boils down to how you treat your customers and employees. I had the opportunity to read The Parking Professional’s Goldman Coverinterview with bestselling author, CEO, and green advocate Seth Goldman in the December issue (coming to your mailbox soon), and found it very insightful. Without giving away all the details of the interview, I want to discuss a few themes Goldman talks about and how they apply to parking.

The first thing he addresses is having a mission that employees at all levels can understand and get behind. Often, mission statements are written by leaders who are not out doing the job on a day-to-day basis and may not have the vision of what a frontline job could be. Getting employees’ buy-in on mission requires their involvement from the ground up. We have to give them the responsibility that will allow them to make decisions that go along with the mission, and empower them to make decisions that translate to top-notch customer service.

Goldman’s second piece of advice is to think like a customer, to ensure the services they want and need are being provided. Most times, we like to tell our customers what they want or need instead of listening to them.

Finally, he advises treating everyone equally so no one feels like an outsider in the corporate environment. This, he says, translates to parking pretty easily: cyclists tend to be relegated to the corner or an area that is under-utilized when bike storage is provided at all. Instead, create spaces that are well thought-out and will help encourage cycling. Consider bike storage that is secure, covered, and close to the front door; lockers and showers; and having a vending machine that dispenses tubes, batteries, or other bicycle-related items to allow quick fix before the ride home. The return on investment for these services will be high; bike infrastructure is inexpensive and employees who bike to work are in better health and less stressed when arriving to work than those who commute by car.

I hope you’ll take time to read the interview with Seth Goldman in the December issue of The Parking Professional. Finding your mission can be as easy as looking toward your employees and customers, and not just looking at the bottom line.

 

 

Thanksgiving: Parking Family

Liliana_Rambo-Pink_suit

This is the time of the year many of us take a moment to examine the things we have accomplished during the past 11 months and either celebrate or reinvigorate ourselves with new energy to finish those pending projects in the last four weeks of the calendar year. But it is also a time for traditions; it is a time to come together with loved ones, families, colleagues, and friends, share food and fun, and be thankful.

As I prepare for a Thanksgiving get-together at my house with my two daughters, family, and friends, I am making notes of all the things that I will be thankful for, including those we sometimes we take for granted: the cooking of the turkey, for example!

This year, I am thankful for my health and for the ability to be able to enjoy life with my girls.

I am thankful that Briana was accepted to the university of her choice and that Diana keeps excelling at volleyball.

I am thankful to have crossed completing a Tough Mudder event off my bucket list. But I am more thankful for the friendships and camaraderie formed with other parking peeps during the event.

I give thanks for a job that provides as many challenges as rewards, and for the opportunity to work with a very talented and fun group of people.

I am also very thankful for having the great fortune to belong to an organization such as IPI, where I have been able to grow as an individual and in the professional arena. I feel extremely blessed to call some of the people I have met through this organization not just colleagues, but BFFs.

I am thankful for the people who work for IPI and the many accomplishments they have helped us achieve in the parking and transportation industry worldwide. The list of accomplishments over the last year is exhausting, and many of these accomplishments could not have been realized without volunteers. The real magic of IPI is the number and caliber of volunteers who give back to their profession by offering their talents, time, and expertise on our board, committees, councils, and task forces. Words can’t express the gratitude I feel and owe to all our volunteers–my heartfelt thank you goes to all of you.

We all know that it takes a team to make it happen, and we have a very strong team! More than 400 people answered our biannual call for volunteers, and they are the ones helping us move the needle and IPI forward. We have made great progress in developing the international arena in the parking profession by providing services and programs to parking professionals in North America, Europe, Brazil, Mexico, and other parts of South America, and we will keep expanding on this effort.

I could go on and on listing accomplishments, but I’ll close by expressing my most sincere gratitude to all of you and how privileged I feel to be the chair of such a vibrant and active community–one dedicated to advancing the parking profession.

Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving Day while I prepare to cook my first turkey!

 

 

Talk is Cheap

Jeff_Pinyot

I know many parents who shelter their kids from real conversation, but they’re a great way for children to learn about life. My son Jonathan (JP) loves to learn about my business.

“Do you have investors? Do you have debt? Are we rich? Why are you always so grumpy?” Answers: Yes, yes, no, and because the answer to the third question is no.

Real life is the very best teacher. No college economics class can replace Life 101. My kids are used to every opportunity being a business opportunity. Driving through Birmingham, Ala., on spring break one year, my daughter said, “Dad, look at the awful yellow lights on that parking garage over there. You should meet with that owner and let him know that you could save him some money.” I met with the owner the next morning.

Will our family ever get rich from dad’s decision to quit a solid job of 24 years to start a lighting business? While our investors, my partners, and I believe the risk and investment will pay off, “rich” has a far deeper meaning. I am already rich in the support of my loving family and the sacrifices that they have made so I could reinvest my life into this business. We are rich in experiences.

I’ve always said, when the time is right, there will be a book. The book will be a “How To”, or a “How Not To” book. I am working on the chapters right now.

Be green, but don’t just hug a tree. Climb it!

 

Are You Ready to “Ignite” and Inspire?

Henry Wallmeyer

“The facilitators did an excellent job of presenting the material.”

“Excellent presentation!”

“Great overview and inspiration.”

“Good information. Fun Time”

“He’s a very knowledgeable presenter with a lot of good relevant experience.”

“This was the best class yet!!”

“This is the best presentation I have been to, maybe ever!”

This is just a sampling of what attendees told us about the sessions and speakers at the 2013 IPI Conference & Expo in Fort Lauderdale. Wouldn’t you like the above to be said about you? It can!

To receive these and perhaps even greater compliments, submit your idea for a presentation and become a speaker at the 2014 IPI Conference & Expo in Dallas, June 1-4. If you are an experienced and articulate individual willing to share your expertise and real-world practices, it’s easy to submit a presentation proposal—we especially want those that illustrate case studies, illuminate important issues, demonstrate how-to knowledge, and increase the professionalism of attendees.

We introduced the Ignite: Parking session in Fort Lauderdale: eight individuals presented for five minutes each using 20 slides that automatically advanced every 15 seconds. Because of the packed room and immensely positive feedback, we are expanding to three sessions in 2014: Ignite: Technology, Ignite: Sustainability, and Ignite: Parking.

An Ignite session is a unique opportunity for you to deliver valuable information in a fun and entertaining way, and we’re looking for engaging, high-energy, multi-tasking, industry professionals to lead the way.

Whether you shine in a traditional 60-minute session or an Ignite session, being a speaker at the IPI Conference & Expo can be an extremely rewarding experience, both personally and professionally. Click here for more information and to submit your presentation.

We look forward to receiving your submission by the October 1, 2013 deadline.

Cheer, Cheer

Henry Wallmeyer

This is one of my favorite times of the year and not just because being outside is once again enjoyable thanks to the cooler weather and the kids are back in school. It is because fall marks the start of college football season.

Les Niedbalski and Henry Wallmeyer

Les Niedbalski and Henry Wallmeyer

I grew up in a house where Saturdays and vacations revolved around Notre Dame football. Our family vacations weren’t to Disney World, but South Bend, Ind., to watch Notre Dame football games. I’m not complaining, mind you, just stating a fact.

Last weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to pass on the tradition as my wife and I loaded our two little ones, ages seven and five, into the family truckster (think the Griswolds) and made the 11-hour trip (Google Maps didn’t take into account the fact that we had kids with us when it said it was nine hours) from Alexandria, Va., to South Bend for the kids’ first home Notre Dame football game.

It was wonderful to show the kids the campus and all the things that make it a special place to not just watch a football game, but experience a football weekend. Things such as multiple trips to the bookstore and seeing the likes of Dick Vitale and Ara Parseghian signing their books in the lobby; saying prayers at the Grotto and attending Mass in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart; seeing famous landmarks such as the Golden Dome and Touchdown Jesus up close and personal; and running down the tunnel of Notre Dame Stadium just as the players do.

But the thing that isn’t on any guide of must-sees is the one that I got a tremendous amount of joy from, and that was meeting  Les Niedbalski, operations coordinator, parking/traffic, at the University of Notre Dame, and IPI member. One of the main reasons I have continued my career working for associations is our members–I enjoy working with, learning from, helping, and interacting with all of them.

With my family in tow, I stopped by Les’ office on Friday afternoon. We exchanged pleasantries, talked about the upcoming game, discussed how things have changed over the years including fields once used for parking that have grown buildings, and got to know each other. It was a great chance for me to meet a member face-to-face after many phone calls and emails, and for my children to meet the person in charge of parking. The highlight from the meeting was when Les gave me a Notre Dame Parking Services hat and made me an honorary member of his team. I wore the hat proudly the next day at the game, hoping someone would ask me a question about parking (or even try to complain) so I could help them.

Associations are all about community. I encourage you to take advantage of our parking community whenever you can by reaching out to parking professionals when you’re traveling or in your own town. And now, I need to take up the IPI members from the University of Alabama on their invitation to visit for a football game. Apparently, they think they do it right down there.

Food Truck Webinar Today

Henry Wallmeyer

My first experience with a food truck, or “roach coach” as it was affectionately known, was as a high schooler working a summer job at DSC05203 a junkyard in Richmond, Va. At precisely 10:30 every morning, the break whistle would sound and we’d head to the food truck waiting at the entrance with the latest in in prepackaged sandwiches, chips, and snacks. It was by no means a culinary treat, but it was a welcome break in the day. Fast forward 25 years and food trucks have progressed from that pickup with insulated diamond-pattern doors covering a refrigerator case to the most interesting-looking fully-functional kitchens on wheels, serving the most diverse food available.

Food trucks are even showing up now the big and small screens. The Great Food Truck Race is a reality television series on the Food Network featuring competing food trucks. The competitors are teams of talented cooks who have dreamed up unique food concepts and want to turn their dreams into a reality, which is to operate a food truck business. (Season four begins August 18.)

On the ABC TV show Happy Endings (which, sadly, was cancelled, but that is for another blog) after Dave Rose was left at the altar by his fiancée, he followed his dreams of quitting his office job and became self-employed with his own food truck business: Steak Me Home Tonight.

Want proof food trucks have really arrived? They have their own association. The DC Food Trucks Association (DCFTA) is a group of nearly 50 Washington, D.C., food truck owner-operators who seek to sustain the wellbeing of our industry, foster a sense of community, and work in partnership with the District of Columbia to improve food truck regulations.

Food trucks have come a long way, but have they come too far too fast? The prevalence of food trucks is forcing parking departments to find unique ways to balance the needs of restaurants, citizens, and entrepreneurs in what many have deemed the downtown food truck wars. For many, it’s a big challenge.

You read about how different cities are facing the food truck challenge in The Parking Professional’s May cover story. Today, IPI is hosting a webinar to further explore the Food Truck Wars. Brandy Stanley, MBA, parking services manager, City of Las Vegas; Gary Means, CAPP, executive director, Lexington & Fayette County Parking Authority; and Mike Estey, parking operations & traffic manager, City of Seattle, will show you what these cities are doing to tackle the challenges that food trucks pose. Register here to see and take away examples of ordinances, pilot programs, and next steps in this battle.

Food trucks don’t just mean Lance crackers and automat-style tuna sandwiches anymore. But what does mobile gourmet mean for your parking operation? I hope you’ll join us today for a great conversation on just that.

ADA Compliance Standards in Higher Education

Trussell-Mohlerphoto

I feel as if I have spent a lifetime working in higher education, specifically in the parking industry! After almost 14 years, I’ve learned that nothing ever stays the same, and you always have to be on your toes, staying on top of the latest developments. that’s particularly true in the area of ADA compliance. Policy regarding ADA compliance as it relates to parking is constantly being updated, and it’s our responsibility as parking professionals to be aware of these changes and implement those necessary to ensure compliance.

Ohio University is situated on beautiful rolling hills and the campus intermingles with the City of Athens. The campus is very much a walking campus supported by transit provided by the city and the university.  Lack of parking at many buildings requires the use of Campus Area Transit Cutting Across Boundaries (CATCAB), a service for individuals with mobility limitations, by many individuals with disabilities. One area  behind a classroom building was designated as disability parking, as it provided those with disabilities access to this classroom and the library. There are no other parking options in this area, so we felt we were providing the best parking options available given the area and what we had to work with.

Unfortunately, a pedestrian (who was texting and walking) was struck by a vehicle in this area. This led to the removal of the spaces behind the building. A student with a disability permit who parked in this area every day was quite upset about the loss of these spaces and filed a complaint. The investigation grew to encompass every disability space on campus–spaces that were a quarter-inch off had to be re-lined, signs were changed, lots were completely re-lined to meet requirements, etc. One complaint led to a two-year process of ensuring all spaces were acceptable and up to code.

While parking itself has met all requirements, the university is still–four years later–working to make changes to meet requirements demanded by the Office of Civil Rights. How many of you are quickly finding slope issues, space width issues? How many of your newly-painted or constructed lots were painted and signed by a contractor who did not know these regulations and left your disability spaces outside of compliance? I think you will be surprised to find it’s like a poison ivy: once you scratch it, it spreads everywhere!

Cloud Computing and Parking

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One of the great paradigm shifts in technology currently happening today is the use of the cloud. How it will eventually affect the parking industry is an open issue. It is already certain to affect how we store and process data and conduct business going forward. Operators and parking administrators must understand the implications and how best to deal with the cloud.Parking is currently affected by several changes:

  • Municipalities and cities have identified parking as a major source of income.
  • On-and off-street parking converge more and more into one business executed by one and the same party.
  • Road pricing, city tolls, and parking have started to converge.
  • Technology infrastructure and capabilities have changed radically.
  • As a consequence, things that have been tied together or tied to a location can now be executed independent of location or time constraints (e.g. identification or payment).

In this highly competitive, globalized world, the cloud provides those who embrace it with a competitive advantage. Competition usually mandates growth. Cloud technology will continue to grow faster, achieving more geographical coverage with less effort and investmentIn most cases, different parking management systems come from different vendors, to be installed and used at geographically diverse parking lots. Cloud technology is ideally suited to not only retrieve information, but to also control devices or applications remotely, independent of locations or time of day. Centralized cloud control is not only cheaper to implement, but also standardizes the way car parks can be managed, leading to reduced training and operational costs. And most importantly, it allows the automation of repetitive tasks, which leads to reduce cost combined with an increase in process quality.

Car park operators offer new types of services over the internet. Using the internet opens a totally new business domain and a path to new revenue sources. Cloud technology allows car park operators to benefit from direct access to consumers and engage in new business-to-consumer business models.

In addition, adopters can avoid costly upgrades, improve compliance through effective standardization, reduce service and overhead costs, and can improve data security and availability.

 

Smart Cities = Smart Drivers

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Whether you drive in Barcelona, San Francisco, or Sydney, parking your car can be a nightmare!

Every day millions of drivers around the world get stuck in traffic jams and waste precious hours looking for parking. Fortunately, smart technologies such as real-time traffic updates and real-time parking availability are starting to change that.

Combined with a meteoric rise in the number of connected vehicles on the road, new traffic technologies are starting to have a real effect on reducing traffic and congestion along with eliminating unnecessary time wasted driving around looking for parking.

To address the issue of unnecessary pollution and driver stress caused by searching for a parking space, a recent project focused on a real-time space availability service that received data on the number of available spaces from participating parking lots every few minutes. This information was then relayed in real-time to drivers using mobile and car navigation systems.

The project began to become more and more relevant when studied in relation to on-street/surface parking lots: Multi-story parking garages have the required barrier and/or loop infrastructure to calculate the number of available spaces, but surface parking lots and street spaces generally do not have any mechanisms to do the same thing.

Drivers could make intelligent parking decisions and drive to where there was space availability. They could see what their chances of finding a street parking space were based on the day and time of their arrival, even in locations that had no barriers or sensors installed. This also had a positive environmental effect as it reduced congestion, noise pollution, and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

In terms of providing the information to end users, the data was integrated into car/mobile apps, which were now able to know final destination and current traffic conditions in real-time. The car/mobile app was able to give various options to the driver. An interesting element to the project was the use of historical payment transaction data to provide forecasts of parking space availability in the future.

The project went live with the City of Seattle and Westminster Council in London in 2012. I look forward to sharing more about it on Sunday, May 19 during the IPI Conference & Expo–hope to see you then!

 

 

Back to Life in Abu Dhabi

David Hill

Today, I am in Abu Dhabi, population just less than 1 million and capital of the United Arab Emirates–a modern, urban oasis situated at the crossroads of four continents.

It’s a fascinating place–a bit like Las Vegas without the gambling and glitz, with over-the-top architecture, high-rise mega projects, broad avenues, crazy traffic, hot and sunny days, cool and pleasant nights, dozens of languages spoken, restaurants, night clubs, shopping malls, ocean vistas, and the occasional sand storm, all held together by cheap cars and gasoline and a mutual quest for available parking.

Up until a few years ago, parking in Abu Dhabi was unregulated and free; as a consequence, I am told, it was chaos with a lot of parking on sidewalks, double parking in streets, and vehicles jammed into drive aisles in parking lots. There are numerous private garages in downtown Abu Dhabi and amazingly, some offer free parking 24 hours a day, but the space is not organized or advertised, and so it is difficult to know if you will find a space at any particular time. To bring some order out of this chaos, the city created Mawaquif, a branded parking authority, to provide regulation and enforcement and apply some control mechanisms to the street. In a very short period of time, Mawaquif has done what appears to be a pretty good job. Most parking areas on the streets and in public surface lots have regulatory signage, paint on the curbs, and a zoned pay and display system that charges up to 15 dirhams ($5) for parking up to 24 hours. Time at the meters is not strictly regulated, the fee seems to do the trick.

There is considerable competition for space, particularly for long-term parking for downtown employees during the morning rush. The city is now turning to garage construction in high demand areas, and there are several public structures under construction. The Emiratis believe in doing things big–if you build it, they will come and if you build it bigger, more will come and they will bring money. The UAE was part way through a major building boom back in 2008 when the financial crisis hit, and many of the mega-projects that were in mid- construction simply halted. From my vantage point, parking projects are revving up, the cranes are swinging, and the projects are coming back to life.

There are interesting times ahead.

Bracket Monday, The IPI Way

Henry Wallmeyer

First there was Cyber Monday and now there is Bracket Monday. Bracket Monday is the day after the NCAA Basketball Tournament Bball for blogis announced, when roughly 30 million people anguish over which 12-seed will beat a five-seed this year, which teams are peaking, and which teams might slide as they fill out the 63 spaces on the now-iconic bracket (I don’t bother picking the play-in games). And while there are estimates that workers distracted by March Madness cost employers about $175 million in productivity during the first two days of the tournament, let’s look at the good that can come from it–in an IPI way.

One of the greatest benefits of IPI membership is the ability to network with your peers from across the country and around the world. Whether at the IPI Conference & Expo, through committees, or by other means, it’s easy to reach out and connect. The best way may be nothing more complicated than an introductory email or phone call introducing yourself as “a fellow member of IPI…” This opens doors widely that might be very tough to even crack. That’s what I love about associations—they create great camaraderie. (O.K. great, Henry, but where are you going with this?)

As I heard Villanova’s (that’s my alma mater’s) name called on Sunday as a number-nine seed (too high in my opinion, but I will take it) and learned our opponent would be North Carolina, I immediately thought about Ray Magyar, CAPP, transportation planner at UNC. And my second thought was that perhaps a friendly wager was in order. I’m not talking mortgage or paycheck-level bets, but a little bet to spice things up–a buck or five, or a beer next time we meet.

This is my assignment for you: use your employment, alumni, or superfan status at a NCAA or NIT tournament school to reach out to an industry peer (use IPI’s Who’s Who in Parking to make the connection) at your opponent’s school and have a little fun. Ideally, arrange to collect on your wager at the 2013 IPI Conference & Expo in Fort Lauderdale. No matter what you wager or when you make good, you’ll have the opportunity to meet new people and make new connections in the parking industry.

Don’t just do it for these first-round games, either. I already have my sights set on Donna Hultine, CAPP, director, parking and transit department at the University of Kansas, for round two. In case you were wondering, my Final Four are: Louisville, Miami, Ohio State, and Villanova (picking with my heart and not my head on that one). Let me know your Final Four and the friendly wagers you make with your peers–comment below.

 


 

Defining Moment

Henry Wallmeyer

Professor Blimm at Villanova University gave my Expository Writing Class (it sounded like an easy A) an assignment to write a Screen Shot 2013-02-08 at 11.15.34 AMpaper that defined something.  Pretty simple right? Until the catch: This time, it was that we could not begin the paper with “The dictionary defines…”  There went the foundation for my paper.

Great story Henry, but what does that have to do with parking?

Over the last several years, the use of technology has accelerated in the parking and transportation industry. And with these advances come new terms and changes to the definitions of words we thought we knew. Here at IPI, we often are asked by the media, our members, and the public for the definition of  high-tech parking items that are becoming more prevalent. I am happy to be able to now respond to these inquires by saying that “IPI’s What’s What in Parking Technology defines…”

IPI’s Technology committee, co-chaired by Mike Drow, CAPP, of Standard Parking, and Peter Lange (a.k.a. Johnny Parking), of Texas A&M University, identified the need for a document to define those techy terms and help parking professionals better communicate with their peers, vendors, customers, and the media. Through a great collaborative effort by the committee, What’s What in Parking Technology: A Glossary of Parking Technology Terms was created.

With nearly 100 definitions that cover Access Control, Video Analytics, and everything in between, this is an amazing industry resource. Use it to ensure that your employees (especially new ones) know the terminology they’ll use a day-to-day basis in the office and with the media and public.

What’s What in Parking Technology: A Glossary of Parking Technology Terms has been mailed with the February issue of The Parking Professional. You can also download it free at parking.org/techglossary.

Look for updates to this glossary, too. As we all know, parking technology is always changing.

Credit Check

Henry Wallmeyer

Do you accept credit cards? The past several weeks have been very busy and very fruitful for the International Parking Institute and our members in helping bring some understanding to high credit and debit card swipe fees that affect the parking industry. Swipe fees have increased dramatically over the past 15 years, and they’re now a top cost for parking operators. Why the rise? It’s simply because the fees are set by Visa and MasterCard, and they have the market cornered.

Earlier this month, IPI announced it had joined the Merchants Payments Coalition to combat  unfair swipe fees. The Merchants Payments Coalition (MPC) is a group of retailers, supermarkets, drug stores, convenience stores, fuel stations, online merchants, and other businesses fighting against unfair credit card fees and for a more competitive and transparent card system that works better for consumers and merchants alike. The coalition’s member associations collectively represent about 2.7 million stores with approximately 50 million employees.

We’re taking other steps in this area as well. Last Monday, I met with Dan Swanson, counsel to U.S. Sen. Richard J. Durbin, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, to discuss the Durbin Amendment, swipe fees’ effects on the parking industry, and what we can do about the issue as an association and industry. IPI and the MPC view the passage of debit card fee reforms—often referred to as the Durbin Amendment—as a step toward creating a fairer and reasonable payments marketplace. Swanson said he is happy to talk with any of our members and provide insight on this issue. He can be reached at 202.224.2152.

Wednesday, Liz Garner and Doug Kantor of the MPC presented Credit and Debit Swipe Fees: Combating Invisible Costs as part of IPI’s monthly webinar series. They gave a legislative, regulatory, and legal overview of the issues. They also provided details about  the court case brought against the Federal Reserve for poor implementation in their final rulemaking that gave major credit card brands latitude to increase rates on small ticket transactions. You can access the archived version of the webinar here.

IPI will keep you informed of the latest happenings on this issue and with the coalition, but in the meantime, you can control some of your costs by taking advantage of IPI’s Payment Processing Program through AMG Payment Solutions. It is the best program in the industry and will show a direct benefit to your bottom line while IPI works to lower the bigger cost of interchange fees.

 

New Ways of Thinking

The Parking Matters Blog Avatar

By Casey Jones, CAPP and Rachel Yoka, LEED AP BD+C

Today, Oct. 18, 2012, is National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day. One might take this news as little more than novel. Sure, maybe someone in the neighborhood has a Prius or perhaps you’ve seen an electric car charging station somewhere in your travels. But the truth is that there is a significant, paradigm-changing movement afoot with respect to how we fuel our vehicles, and reason to be optimistic that we might really be on our way to cleaner, more affordable fuel, access, and mobility choices. Here are a few examples to make the point.

BMW is the only privately-held auto manufacturer in the world. But they are also unique in how they are positioning themselves–perhaps what they’re up to gives us a glimpse into the future. BMW has redefined itself from a maker of great automobiles to the world’s leading provider of individual mobility. This is much more than a marketing stunt; it represents a sea change in terms of how we think about automakers. With partners such as Urban Mobility and Propark America, BMW is advancing the use of all-electric car-share vehicles (called DriveNow); has launched a city-specific mobility application called MyCityWay that, according to BMW “instantly identifies your location and shares the best places to get whatever it is you need;” and now offers ParkNow, which allows drivers to find and book parking, oil changes, valet services, and car washes in member and non-member garages.

BMW is not alone in forging ahead with innovation and creativity. Take Google, Inc.: At their Mountain View headquarters, you’ll see several BMW Active E vehicles available for use. There are also more than 100 compressed natural gas motor coach buses that shuttle Google employees (they’re called “Googlers”) around the Bay. Wi-Fi enabled, these vehicles are connected to the Google network and feature plush leather interiors and bicycle racks on the back. What’s more, Googlers aren’t charged to use these amenities. It’s simply part of what they provide their employees (along with free food, use of on-site workout facilities, message therapy, and a mobile barber shop). Like BMW, Google is pushing the envelope in many ways, most especially in the area of access and mobility management.

Neither of these companies is a flash-in-the-pan enterprise or undertaking anything akin to “greenwashing” (a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization’s aims and policies are environmentally friendly). Both offer a glimpse at what is to come and both challenge us to shed our old ways of thinking. Parking organizations and professionals certainly have a role to play in this effort, and forward-thinking now will be critical to future success.

Grants Awarded for Parking Pricing Projects

Henry Wallmeyer

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced more than $363 million in grants from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to fund a wide variety of highway improvements that include the Value Pricing Pilot (VPP) Program. The VPP Program supports a variety of strategies to manage congestion on highways, including tolling highway facilities through congestion pricing, as well as other methods that do not involve tolls, such as mileage-based car insurance and parking pricing. Awardees and grant amount included:

Multimodal, Dynamic Parking Pricing in Downtown Washington, D.C.
This project will implement dynamic pricing and a reservation system for commercial vehicle parking to manage metered curbside spaces in the congested downtown business district and tourist areas. It will encourage freight travel at off-peak times and enable tour bus operators to find parking, as well as use parking revenues to support transit services. $1,090,000 

ParkSmart New York City
The project continues the work of a previous pilot to introduce higher on-street meter rates during peak times in select neighborhoods to support retail areas by increasing vehicle turnover and allowing more vehicles to access on-street parking. It offers tailored pricing strategies in up to 25 new neighborhood retail corridors to reflect parking demand, and will reduce congestion caused by double-parked and circling cars. $950,000

Kendall Square Employer Transportation Benefit Pricing Trail
The city of Cambridge, Mass., and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will evaluate the effectiveness of a range of current parking pricing strategies used by area employers and provide financial incentives to deploy and evaluate additional new strategies.  $743,872

Performance Parking System Implementation in Los Angeles
This project will install sensors to monitor occupancy and adjust prices for 543 on-street and 366 off-street parking spaces to reduce emissions while searching for parking. $600,272

San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Commission Regional Parking Pricing Analysis Tool
This proposal creates a regional parking database that will allow localities to analyze the effects of various parking pricing scenarios designed to encourage transit and other alternative travel in the Bay Area. $560,000

King County, Wash., Park-and-Ride Pricing in Multi-Family Developments
This project will address a regional shortage in parking spaces at park-and-ride facilitates. The project will facilitate the paid use of parking spaces that are vacated during the day in multifamily neighborhoods along transit routes in the Seattle area, thereby allowing more use of public transit. $543,900

Parking Pricing Enhancement Study in San Francisco
This two-part project will study and assess options for implementing a residential parking pricing pilot and develop transferable technical specifications for SFpark, which would help other cities implement similar programs. $420,000

For the complete list of awardees, visit http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/discretionary/2012vppp.cfm, and be sure to download for free the FHWA’s Contemporary Approaches to Parking Pricing.

We encourage all parking organizations to explore the opportunity to improve their operations with the assistance of federal or private grants. For more information on the FHWA grants, please contact:

Allen Greenberg
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
202-366-2425
allen.greenberg@dot.gov

It’s IPI Conference Presentation Call Time

Henry Wallmeyer

It may seem like we’re all still settling in from the 2012 IPI Conference & Expo in Phoenix, but the IPI Conference Program Committee is already hard at work planning the 2013 event in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., May 19-22. If you’ve ever thought about giving a presentation at the largest gathering of parking professionals in the world and helping shape the future of your industry, this is the time to submit your proposal.

Experienced and articulate professionals who’d like to share their expertise and real-world experience with IPI Conference & Expo attendees are invited to submit proposals to present at next year’s event. The official call for presentation explains all the details, but there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Presentation proposals are due Oct. 1, 2012. The Conference Program Committee will review them immediately  after that date, so don’t be late with yours.
  • Presenters are entitled to a 25 percent discount off full or daily Conference registrations (CAPP candidates are not eligible for this discount). We cannot, however, provide fees or expense reimbursements.
  • Please don’t confuse educational sessions with Expo hall pitches. Make sure your educational session content is based on a relevant topic, concept, or idea, and not your services, products, company, or proprietary information.
  • Submit as many proposals as you want, but make your proposals great to rise above the rest.

To learn more about how the IPI Conference Program Committee judges and selects Conference session presenters, see the April 2012 issue of The Parking Professional .

There is no better venue than the IPI Conference & Expo to share your experience; it’s where parking professionals from around the world go for the game-changing thinking and innovation that will propel them and their businesses ahead. I hope you’ll be part of it and consider submitting your proposal by Oct. 1. Please let me know if you have questions, and see you in Ft. Lauderdale!

All Roads Lead to Technology

EmergingTrends_100sq

According to a new survey released today by the International Parking Institute (IPI), technology, sustainability, revenue-generation, and customer service are the top trends in the parking industry and the things most parking professionals are looking for.

The 2012 Emerging Trends in Parking Survey was released at the IPI Conference & Expo in Phoenix, Ariz., this morning. It showed that cashless, electronic, and automatic payment systems join apps that provide real-time information about parking rates and availability and wireless sensing devices that help improve traffic management as the top in-demand technologies in the industry.

More than one-third of respondents said that demand for sustainable services is a top trend, and that they’re talking about energy-efficient lighting, parking space guidance systems, automatic payment process, solar panels, renewable energy technology, and systems that accommodate electric vehicles and/or encourage alternative methods of travel. Technologies that help people find parking faster take cars off the road; an estimated 30 percent of people driving around cities at any time are looking for parking, wasting fuel and emitting carbons.

Survey participants also said that convincing urban planners, local governments, and architects to include parking professionals in their early planning processes is a priority; doing that, they said, would help prevent many design problems in final projects. And when asked where parking should be included as a course of study in academic institutions, nearly half of the survey participants said schools of urban study, followed by business or public policy schools.

The full survey can be accessed on IPI’s website.

Get Your Bike On!

J.C. Porter

Tomorrow, May 18th is Bike to Work Day and you may be asking yourself one question: “Do I have to wear Spandex to ride my bike to work?” The quick answer is no, not unless you really want to! Commuting by bike should be easy, but we like to make excuses such as, “I can’t commute by bike because I don’t have a carbon fiber bike,” or, “I have to buy all new clothes to ride my bike.”

I’ll help lead an International Parking Institute (IPI) webinar next month on making your parking facility bike-ready. Until then, here are a few tips for bike commuting to help everyone get started:

1. Use what you have. Everyone either has a bike in their garage or knows someone who has a bike they can borrow.

2. If the bike has not been ridden in awhile, make sure it is in good working order before you set off. Complete the ABCs to ensure a bike is road-ready:

A: Check to make sure the tires have the proper amount of Air in them.
B: Check the Brakes for slowing down as well as stopping distance.
C: Gauge the Chain to make sure it is well oiled and will shift properly.

3. Wear the clothes you have. Most people just commute in their work clothes. As long as you take it easy and do not pretend you are competing in the Tour De France, you should be okay.

4. Use Map My Ride or another route-finding technology to find a bike route from your home to work. Keep in mind you most likely will not use the same route that you would in your car. Practice your new route ahead of time so you are comfortable with it and can identify any potential surprises that may arise.

Enjoy the ride to and from work, as it is a great stress reliever to the start and end of your work day. Remember, coffee cup holders are available for most bikes!

Would You Recognize a Threat?

Henry Wallmeyer

With last week’s news that the CIA foiled a plot by terrorists to use a much more sophisticated underwear bomb to blow up a U.S.-bound airliner, we are once again reminded that terrorists hope to do us harm.

Parking professionals need to be constantly aware of potential threats not only because parking has played a vital role in several domestic terrorist attacks (the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the explosion that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City both originated from parking spaces), but also because if terrorists are prevented from attacking in the air, they will shift their focus to the ground.

To help you think differently about potential security threats and help train your staff to do the same, IPI worked with the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to develop the parking module of the First Observer anti-terrorism training program in February 2010. Since then, First Observer, which supports the National Preparedness Guidelines of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has trained more than 12,500 parking professionals to spot suspicious activity and report it to the proper agencies.

An article in the March issue of The Parking Professional [PDF] highlighted successful outcomes of the program. Those who’ve taken First Observer training say it opened their eyes to activity that might not have seemed suspicious before.

First Observer training is free—there are no associated costs—and accessible to IPI members on-site at members’ operations and electronically through online, on-demand training. Everyone who successfully completes the training class will receive a First Observer card and certificate.

If you or your organization has not taken advantage of this free parking-specific, anti-terrorism program, I strongly encourage you do so. You can schedule training and find out more about the program at www.parking.org/firstobserver or by contacting the First Observer call center at 888.217.5902.

If you’ve taken the training already, how has it changed the way you do your job? Comment below.

Airport Parking Survey Takes Off

Rick Decker

It is with many thanks to the 11 members of the working group behind the recently conducted ACI-NA/IPI Parking Survey [PDF], conducted by the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), LeighFisher, and the International Parking Institute (IPI) that I share these perspectives. I wish to thank everyone involved for their contributions. I also wish to thank Peter Mandle of LeighFisher and his team for compiling and presenting the survey in a form that is easy to understand and covers the important points, and ACI-NA for their partnership.

We learned some important lessons over and above the value of the information gathered:

  • Streamlined. It is possible to streamline a survey document. It can be short enough that operators will complete it and yet gather the information necessary. This was accomplished by holding fast to our goal of only gathering the level of detail of interest to our audience – both the IPI and ACI-NA members.
  • Repeatable. A well-crafted survey that earns a good response is likely to remain unchanged for the next survey. This means the information gathered can be compared from one survey to the next to observe trends and movement in this industry. This makes the information even more valuable.
  • Collaborative. Collaboration between like-minded trade groups avoids duplicating efforts, reduces costs, and makes the most of committee members’ time.
  • Cost-effective. This type of survey work can be accomplished with current technology. We did not need to spend the expense (time and dollars) to meet face-to-face to accomplish this task.

As a member of IPI’s Board of Directors, I can share with you that IPI has made a concerted effort to collaborate on transportation-related projects with a number of trade groups where greater awareness about parking is a boon to both sets of memberships. These initiatives are proving to be very rewarding. The airport survey is just one example.

I hope you’ll download the report and learn more about airport parking — you may be surprised by what you find!

Thinking Outside the Lot

Eran Ben-Joseph, Ph.D.

Guest blogger Eran Ben-Joseph, Ph.D. is professor of landscape architecture and urban planning and head, joint program in city design and development, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is author of Re-Thinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking, and of a feature in the May issue of The Parking Professional.

One look at a typical surface parking lot raises many questions: Can parking lots be designed in a more attractive and aesthetically pleasing way? Can environmental considerations be addressed and adverse effects mitigated? Can parking lots provide more than car storage? Can they be integrated more seamlessly into our built environment in a way that is not only practical but also elegant and enjoyable? What can be learned from usage behavior and the manipulation of lots by unplanned-for users such as teens, food vendors, theater companies, and tailgating sport fans?

In the May issue of The Parking Professional [PDF], I offer thoughts from my book, ReThinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking. The book explores the origins of the surface lot and its influences on our culture; I think even the most mundane lot has potential to be much more. I argue, using the parking lot as an example, that molding everyday places though simple, generative interventions can transform the way we live and interact with our surroundings.

What is needed next is a renewed vision and exciting ideas for the 21st century parking lot. As a leading voice of the parking industry, the International Parking Institute champions new directions through its Awards of Excellence, which recognize outstanding design in parking. These awards encourage imagination and creativity that help find new solutions intrinsic to the function of the lot, but go beyond the typical aesthetic embellishments and illustrate potential for our future built environment. I am looking forward to hearing about this year’s winners in June.

What do you think can be done to encourage better design in surface lots?

 

4 Ways to Welcome Cyclists

J.C. Porter

Bicycling is receiving a lot of attention in the parking world, and for good reason: it’s healthy, it’s environmentally-friendly, and it helps alleviate car congestion. There are four easy ways to create an inviting bike environment for businesses, cities, and universities:

  1. A little paint goes a long way to help increase the visibility of cyclists and your efforts to promote bicycling. Sharrows, a street marking to indicate a shared-lane (from a combination of the words share and arrow), are easy to paint and save space over traditional bike lanes, as they are meant to be used by both bikes and automobiles.
  2. There are several different types of bike racks that can work for different types of spaces. An inverted U is the most common type of bike rack; this works best for cyclists and is also attractive. Space savers can be used in areas such as underneath stair wells or unused portions under garage ramps. And finally, cycle stalls are multi-space bike racks that are placed on the street. These allow for better access on the sidewalks and, if placed strategically such as near crosswalks, can create better sight lines for both pedestrians and motorists.
  3. A fix-it station is an easy addition to any location. This provides a place for riders to use an attached pump or other tools to keep their bike running.
  4. Joining forces with bicycle-related organizations is a great way to receive recognition for additions and improvements you take on. These organizations will help promote your business, city, state, university, or hospital’s efforts to encourage cycling. Small investments in time and money will go a long way in helping to promote your organization.

Have you encouraged your customers to commute by bike? Let us know in the comments.

More Than Just a Job Board

Henry Wallmeyer

Whether you always dreamed of working in parking (hey, it happens!) or backed into your career, getting ahead is a common goal. IPI’s Career HQ  is an excellent place for parking professionals to post their resumes and search for parking jobs, all at no charge. And it just got a whole lot better. Starting this week, we’ve expanded the IPI Career HQ with career advice, professional resume writing services, and access to a career coach.

This new, more robust resource for job hunters–and recruiters–now offers:

  • Career tips.
  • Professional resume writing.
  • Career coaching.
  • Social networking/profile development.
  • Reference checking/employment verification.

You’ll find some intriguing information just by browsing through the Career Tips sections. Advice on writing a cover letter compares “aggressive vs. non-aggressive verbiage” and a section on “negotiating your offer, closing the deal” has some surprising ideas. I guarantee if you start reading, you won’t stop and you’ll learn a great deal you can put to immediate use.

While personalized resume coaching carries competitive-priced options, a great deal of the advice in these new sections is free.

To see and take advantage of these new career resources, visit http://careers.parking.org/resources.cfm and let us know what you think!