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About Shawn Conrad, CAE

Shawn Conrad, CAE, is executive director of the International Parking Institute.

Flexibility: Lessons from the NFL

Shawn Conrad

The National Football League is now in the 13th week of a very grueling 16-week schedule. These games and athletes are at times poetry in motion, and at other times, it’s a game that is vicious and hard-hitting. It’s amazing that any players make it through the season with all of their limbs and senses intact.

I recently listened to a post-game interview with a player who was asked how he was able to make it through so many seasons without any serious injuries. He mentioned that the team’s trainer had emphasized stretching their muscles and joints every day, sometimes multiple times a day, to stay limber and agile. What the trainer was really preaching was for the athlete to stay flexible.

What a great message for us non-NFL players as well. While we aren’t so much concerned with being hit by a 260-lb. middle linebacker, we are constantly having to deal with a rush of constant change in our professional and personal lives. Think about all of the things that are changing around us: technology, new duties and responsibilities, co-workers coming and going, our parents and siblings getting older, kids learning to drive and then soon off to college, and more.   iStock_000000867534_Large

Many things change over time and most of the time, you can’t do anything about it. Things can change because they weren’t working or were out of date—maybe you found something that just worked better.  Having to deal with change requires a degree of flexibility as you figure out how to approach shifting technology or working in a new environment or figuring out children who no longer seek your input.

Adapting to change isn’t easy and it takes a flexible mindset. You have to stay open to new possibilities and opportunities. Those around you who successfully tackle change in their lives are often seen as more open-minded and adaptable, while those who resist change seem as though they are standing between the end zone and a running back who does the 40-yard dash in under five seconds.

We’ve all heard that change is inevitable. The way you tackle it will affect how happy and productive you are.

We will soon be looking at the beginning of 2016—a new year that will bring with it many changes and things that are different than what they once were. Take a moment, take a few deep breaths, and think how this change will affect you. Then, focus on how you can adapt to this new reality.  And don’t forget to stretch.

Singing a Different Tune

Shawn Conrad

I learn a tremendous amount when I sit in on sessions at parking conferences. So many great initiatives shed a light on the value parking brings to municipalities, universities, airports, and medical centers. Sessions about on-street parking as a mobility management tool in Barcelona or digitalization of parking enforcement in Amsterdam are just a few I’ve had the pleasure of attending recently. Closer to home, I heard presentations on parking improvements in Boulder, Colo,; Pittsburgh; and Missoula, Mont.

One speaker I recently heard discussed:

  • The Parking Ticket.
  • Parking Lot.
  • Le Parking Des Anges.
  • Strip Mall Parking Lots.
  • Parking Hug.
  • Party in the Parking Lot.
  • And my favorite, Central Parking Blues

If you haven’t guessed, these are just a few of the 59 titles Spotify identifies as “parking” songs. Evidently, this speaker and others are trying to find all the recorded songs about parking. While 59 seems like a lot, I was challenged to see if there were more.

My guess is that a number of IPI blog readers have created lists of parking songs of their own. Does anyone have more than 59 titles on their playlist?

I wasn’t aware that parking songs are that plentiful. It just goes to show you that you can learn things outside of a classroom setting.

Teddy Roosevelt and Watering the Grass

Shawn Conrad

I like a good quote. Every year, I’m the guy who shops for those desk calendars that have a quote attached to each day. I am especially fond of the ones that place a special emphasis on quotes from former U.S. Presidents, particularly the 16th, Abraham Lincoln.

Recently, though, I have been fixated on another president, the 26th–Theodore Roosevelt. Yes, the Rough Rider, the former secretary of the Navy, governor of New York, running mate of William McKinley (the unfortunately short-termed 25th president). Teddy Roosevelt was the U.S. leader at the turn of the 20th century and most of his speeches and meetings were captured for historical purposes. He coined “speak softly and carry a big stick” and, like Mr. Lincoln, did not have speech writers help him make his point, but instead developed his own messaging. It’s interesting to note that his words were used for many years by a coffee manufacturer when, after drinking a cup at a Nashville hotel, he quipped the blend was “good to the last drop.”

One Roosevelt quote I am extremely fond of places an emphasis on giving back to one’s occupation or community. I came upon this quote when I first started my own career in association management and have placed it at the top of the many special sayings I have kept over the years. Roosevelt believed strongly that:

Every man owes part of his time and money to the business or industry to which he is engaged. No man has a moral right to withhold his support from an organization that is striving to improve conditions within his sphere.

I was recently reminded of this quote as IPI sent out our biannual Call for Volunteers, seeking those interested in helping IPI advance the parking profession by volunteering to serve on one of our committees or task forces. Having worked with other industries before coming to parking, I have been amazed with the overwhelming response we receive from hundreds of eager members looking to become more involved. These volunteers are integral to everything we accomplish. Here’s to all of you!  I believe Mr. Roosevelt would be very pleased with your commitment to your profession. I know I am.
I’ll leave you with one more quote whose author is unknown. This one, I think, applies to almost every aspect of our home and work life: “The grass is not greener on the other side; the grass is greener where you water it.”

Play Ball, and Let’s Keep it Safe

Shawn Conrad

I love sports, all sports. I enjoy playing, watching, and following my favorite teams. In the Washington, D.C., area, we have many teams to follow that are just a short drive away— professional football, baseball, hockey, and basketball teams. We also can follow games at the University of Maryland, UM Baltimore County, George Washington University, American University, George Mason University, Towson University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Virginia, and Georgetown University, among others.  And a short drive away, we can catch Baltimore Orioles and Ravens games. While many people think of Washington D.C. for its political environment, I think of all the opportunities to catch a game and I try to see as many as I can.

D.C. is not alone, certainly, in having many sporting teams.  In North America, there are more than 3,000 stadiums where many people go to cheer on their teams.  As we all know, parking is the first and last impression someone has of a trip to a downtown area, theater, or their daily commute, along with those going to school or sporting events. Many of you manage events that provide for ample and efficient movement of people coming and going to these games.  I was recently was given a glimpse of what it takes to keep these stadiums and the people attending these games safe.

IPI and its Safety and Security Committee are about to embark on a partnership with The National  Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at the University of Southern Mississippi to provide training and awareness for our members on best practices to address risks/threats, counter-terrorism, security management, and emergency management.

During the summer months, IPI and NCS4 personnel will develop ways to share techniques and tools to provide easy and enjoyable sporting events while maintaining a safe perimeter.  I’ll have much more to share when we are together at the 2015 IPI Conference & Expo, June 29 – July 2, in Las Vegas.

In the meantime, enjoy the NCAA March Madness basketball games and before you know it, we’ll be shouting “play ball” as my Washington Nationals take to the mound April 6. I can’t wait.

Hey Buddy, Can You Tell Me About Changes to U.S. Coins?

Shawn Conrad

At the 2014 IPI Conference & Expo in Dallas, Jon Cameron, the U.S. Mint’s director, office of coin studies, discussed research the U.S. Treasury Department initiated on all circulating coins.  Cameron told a packed Opening Session audience that Congress wished to identify ways to reduce coins’ production costs.  Many might not know that each penny engraved with the 16th president’s likeness costs $0.0166 to make, or that each five-cent nickel costs $0.0809 to manufacture.

For the transportation industry and many other industries (vending, laundry) that rely on coin use, any alteration of the size, shape, weight, and electro-magnetic signature (EMS) of coins could require very expensive equipment alterations.

After extensive research and development on potential alternative metal compositions for circulating coins, the Mint’s Office of Coin Studies made the following recommendations to Congress:

  • Continue large-scale testing to identify a metal mixture that could potentially serve as an alternative to current coins in circulation while reducing costs.
  • Explore production improvements.
  • Continue to keep stakeholders (IPI and other organizations) informed and engaged in R&D efforts.
  • Initiate studies to understand consumer behavior regarding the use of coins in commerce.

In an age when the trust and transparency between government and business is often tested, it is very gratifying to see how open the U.S. Mint is to industry input.  With an estimated cost to U.S. businesses calculated between $2.4 billion to $6 billion to accommodate new coins, the Mint’s efforts to include all stakeholders is welcome.

Attendant to Detail

Shawn Conrad

Chivalry and customer service are alive and well in the parking industry. Everyone remembers when we are treated extra-special by someone at a hotel or restaurant or by our auto mechanic.

I’ll never forget the time one of our annual meeting attendees was too sick to fly home and tried to recover in a hotel room. The maid, too, noticed that this person was not feeling well, went out and bought a small teddy bear, an assortment of herbal teas, and a get-well card, and placed it near the customer’s pillow. What a wonderful gesture—it’s probably is an indication that this maid’s manager or hotel owner empowered employees to do things that might make guests’ hotel stays memorable.

The other day, I pulled my car into a very full office garage. Before long, an attendant walked over and at first, motioned that there might be a space available down one of the far lanes. As the last syllable came out of his mouth, he said, “follow me.” Off the attendant went running down a very long aisle, stood in front of an open space, and moved me in. As you can imagine, I felt very special and thanked this gentleman for his help.

The attendant’s excellent service made me feel the same way I do when I go to a big-box hardware store looking for a specific item. When asking a store clerk to help me find it, most will say, “it’s in aisle __,” before leaving me to find the item for myself. Other times, a clerk will walk with me to the aisle and point out the part I need. It’s one thing to say there is an available parking space or that the store sells an item but it’s up to you to find it, and another to go out of their way to find it for you. That’s service!

Maybe in the future all parking customers will be directed to an available space by a parking guidance system. But until then, it’s nice to know someone goes the extra mile to provide exceptional customer service. How about your organization? Are your employees providing services that set you apart from others?

Do you have an example of one of your co-workers going above and beyond just doing their job? Please share!

Ray LaHood Knows Parking

Shawn Conrad

“America is one big pothole right now.” This line came from former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, in an interview Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 4.59.20 PMfeatured in the June issue of The Parking Professional.

Before interviewing Secretary LaHood, magazine editor Kim Fernandez knew he has a passion for fixing/repairing America’s infrastructure woes, but what she pleasantly discovered is that he also knows parking!

For 15 years, LaHood served on the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, a standing committee tasked with looking after U.S. highways, bridges, rivers, public buildings, emergency management, and economic development. It was there that he learned how vital America’s transportation system is to keeping the economy growing, and committed himself to securing transportation infrastructure that remains strong and safe.

In a recent nationwide survey of local government officials conducted by IPI with American City and County magazine, IPI learned there is a disconnect in what many government officials know about the innovations and technology available in the parking industry. Happily, Secretary LaHood proves an exception to that rule. If you haven’t read the June article about Ray LaHood, please do so; you’ll enjoy his perspective.

To entice you to to pick up the the current issue of The Parking Professional, which features LaHood on the cover, I will leave you with four quotes. Enjoy:

“Transportation and parking are interrelated, and the government should help to mitigate congestion by encouraging further innovation by these private enterprises.”

“By increasing availability of parking options near busy destinations, we can help slow the sprawl of congestion. It is necessary and forward-looking to integrate parking policy and transportation policy in urban planning projects.”

“Infrastructure investment is intricately linked to quality of life for these reasons; infrastructure and economic growth go hand-in-hand.”

“One of the most important reasons for investing in American infrastructure is ensuring that the United States remains an economically competitive and viable global leader.”

Announcing a New Green Parking Book

Shawn Conrad

We call it the “Green Book” for short, but you can now pre-order from IPI the 176-page Sustainable Parking Design and Screen Shot 2014-05-05 at 9.35.32 AMManagement: A Practitioner’s Handbook as an ebook or limited-edition hardcover at pre-release discounted prices.

The idea for this book began with Tim Haahs, PE, AIA, of Timothy Haahs and Associates, Inc., long time IPI Board member and the consummate parking professional, who also sat on the National Parking Association’s (NPA) Consultants Council.  Tim envisioned this book as a joint industry project, and IPI and NPA have worked together for the past three years to bring it to publication.

More about the book, including a listing of chapters, is available at

I know “it takes a village” is a cliché, but this book really is the result of many talented people devoting a lot of time to the effort, no one more than book editor and IPI Board member Rachel Yoka, LEED AP BD+C, CNU-A. She deserves accolades and gratitude from everyone in the parking industry for seeing this project through.

The book’s chapter authors and peer reviewers also deserve thanks for their important contributions:

Ryan Astrup, M Arch (Prof) Assoc., AIA
Dennis Burns, CAPP
Michael Cramer
Gary Cudney
Chuck Cullen, CAPP, CPP
Matt Feagans
Vicky Gagliano, LEED AP
Casey Jones, CAPP, MPA
Erin Kueht, P.E., LEED AP BD+C
Megan Leinart, LEED AP BD+C, CNU-A
David LoCoco
Jerry Marcus
Mark Martin
Patrick D. Martin, P.E.
Shannon Sanders McDonald, AIA
Isaiah Mouw, CAPP, CPP, LEED GA
Raju Nandwana
Gary Neff
H. Dean Penny, P.E.
Gerard A. Rewolinski
Steven J. Roloff, PE, LEED AP
Brian Shaw, CAPP
Dave Sheldon, LEED AP
Michelle Wendler, AIA
Timothy T. Wendt, PE, LEED AP
Paul Wessel
Brett Wood, CAPP
Rachel Yoka, LEED AP BD+C, CNU-A
James M. Zullo, CAPP

Featured in the book are more than 20 case studies of facilities that have incorporated sustainable elements and which provide vital information and lessons learned.

IPI’s mission is to advance the parking profession. In our education and outreach efforts we focus on this triad: Technology. Customer Service. Sustainability.

This book is a milestone for our industry. I encourage you to learn from and delight in its pages.

A heads-up: The hardcover version of Sustainable Parking Design and Management: A Practitioner’s Handbook will be a limited-edition. Both the hardcover and ebook may be pre-ordered now at introductory (and IPI member discounted) prices at

It’s an exciting day for the parking industry!






Lending a Hand to Help a Peer–and the Profession

Shawn Conrad

One of the best things about being part of IPI’s wonderfully generous community is the sharing of information and learning from fellow parking professionals.

IPI recently collaborated with David McKinney, director of parking services at Arkansas State University. David is working on his doctoral dissertation on various management practices at universities and colleges. His work will be valuable to our industry and to support his efforts we asked IPI members to respond to David’s survey.

WOW did you respond! Within a short period of time after our request, David received a treasure trove of responses from his peers at academic institutions across North America and was the envy of his colleagues who commiserate about how difficult it is to get responses. (An aside: Kate Windom, our education researcher who conducted IPI’s Jobs Analysis Survey last year, was similarly bowled over by the level of response from our members.)

Once completed, David will share the results of his survey with IPI and we will share it with you. It’s a real win-win for everyone!

In the future, we’d like to help others with a quest to do academic-reviewed research for the parking industry. I know how easy it is to become survey-weary, but I hope you will continue to consider your participation an investment in advancing the parking profession and making an important contribution. It is appreciated very much. Onward, and thank you!

Are You More Prepared Than a Congressman?

Shawn Conrad

The same day New York Congressman Michael Grimm physically threatened a news reporter following President Obama’s State of the Union Address, IPI conducted its annual Media Training seminar for 35 Certified Administrator of Public Parking (CAPP) candidates. This two-day course has been offered by IPI for more than 20 years, becoming more relevant as parking grows as a popular subject with many media outlets.

Parking professionals regularly find themselves sought-out by reporters seeking input on new management approaches or technology improvements. We live in a 24/7 new cycle, and everything big (and not-so-big) is newsworthy.  Cue the misbehaving teen pop singer.

IPI’s Media Training session began with the question, “How many of you think the media is on your side?”  Not one participant raised his hand. The instructors, not surprised by this reaction, leapt at the chance to showcase all of the ways a person being interviewed can get his messages across, showing our CAPP candidates how to tell their stories when the cameras arrive. Being prepared for an interview helps you not only get your message across, but also helps alleviate any anxiety you might have before the microphone is thrust in your face.

Every time a parking professional looks into a camera, clips on a microphone, or speaks at an event covered by reporters is a chance to get an organization’s message across. When you look and act confident and provide useful information to a reporter’s questions, you serve as an effective ambassador for the parking industry.

Contrary to popular belief, most reporters are just trying to get the story accurately and on time. They aren’t out there to ask “gotcha” questions or make you look uninformed. Preparation is key.

You’ll be glad to know that just as IPI offers education modules on technology, payment systems, and sustainability at state and regional meetings, thanks to our Parking Matters® committee, we are currently developing a media training module that should be ready in the fall. We’ll all benefit from having more parking ambassadors prepared to talk about all the positives in parking.

IPI’s Media Training seminars are conducted to a growing audience ever year. My hope is that you never find yourself asked questions that don’t pertain to the subject area you originally agreed to address. But if you do, media training will give you the skills to handle it on a much more appropriate and less risky way than a certain congressman from New York.



New Year, New Address for IPI

Shawn Conrad

updated_movingIt’s 2014. And, it’s our first day in IPI’s new headquarters in Alexandria, Va.

I have a new perspective on the world, literally and figuratively.

Alexandria is minutes from Washington, D.C., accessible to three major airports and a Metro stop, and our new complex has its own bike share station. It’s easier to visit us, and I hope you will!

Being in close proximity to government agencies with whom we have increasingly close ties will be an asset to IPI and its members.

IPI’s new hometown boasts the fourth largest concentration of professional associations in the nation. Many are associations related to building, property management, urban planning, architecture, transportation, law enforcement, municipalities, universities, healthcare—the list goes on! These are groups with which we either have alliances, or want to build alliances, and the proximity will facilitate those connections.

The offices may be new, but the staff is the same, with the same dedication to serving our members. We’re looking forward to all the opportunities our new address will afford. In the meantime, please update your IPI contact information.

International Parking Institute
1330 Braddock Place, Suite 350
Alexandria, Va., 22314

There may be times we’re offline during the next few days (our move has been complicated by the snow here). Rest assured, we are working hard and settling in and we look forward to hearing from you Monday morning. Thanks for your patience—look for a virtual tour of our new home in the February issue of The Parking Professional and plan a visit soon!







Elves, Volunteers and Santa 365

Shawn Conrad

When I say 365, I’m not referring to days in the year. I’m talking about the approximate number of parking professionals who chose to volunteer and share their energy and expertise with the International Parking Institute, affiliates, or allied state and regional parking associations during the past 12 months.

Behind every successful IPI program, there are numerous “elves” oiling the machine, delivering the goods, and doing so with bells on!

This is very top of mind because I just re-read my advance copy of the 2013 IPI Year in Review which will accompany your January issue of The Parking Professional. As the year comes to a close, it’s a satisfying exercise to recap highlights of the past twelve months and see how much we accomplished. As, IPI Chair Liliana Rambo, CAPP, coined it: “A stellar year – thanks to so many.”

We were fortunate to have many talented individuals make such a positive difference by working on a committee, writing an article for The Parking Professional or the Parking Matters® Blogbeing the elvebehind the 2013 IPIConference & Expo, participating in webinars, sharing ideas during ShopTalks,and contributing in countless other ways to advance the parking profession.

This season, we hear a great deal about spirit and generosity, but I have found this to be an industry where those attributes are year round in abundance. On behalf of all of us at IPI, our deepest gratitude and very best wishes for a wonderful holiday and a healthy, prosperous new year.

It’s a Global (Parking) Village in Dublin This Week

Shawn Conrad

I’m in Dublin, Ireland, at the European Parking Congress. It’s only just started, but a highlight this morning was a meeting of the Global Parking Associations Leadership Summit (GPALS). IPI sowed the seeds for this group to provide a forum for parking associations around the globe to share information and work collaboratively for the advancement of the parking industry. The group first met at the 2012 IPI Conference & Expo in Phoenix, and is now 17 associations strong and growing! Learn more at

At this week’s meeting, which was attended by representatives from 15 countries, we shared and discussed the results of GPALS’ global parking trends report, which is the group’s first collaborative project. Based on an adaptation of IPI’s annual Emerging Trends in Parking survey, data was collected from the members of parking associations from Australia, Norway, Finland, Japan, Brazil, Canada, Spain, Ireland, Sweden, Germany, Great Britain, and the U.S. Parking professionals from these countries, as well as from Denmark, Belgium, Serbia, Austria, France, Hungary and Slovakia, participated in the survey.

Survey results focus on the top parking trends as they relate to technology improvements, operations, sustainability, politics, and economic factors that will affect how we regard and manage parking. It also asked respondents to assess whether perceptions about parking were changing for the better or the worse in their countries.

Results from the GPALS survey will be published by each participating parking association next week, and will be featured in the October issue of The Parking Professional. Be sure to look for them when the magazine hits your mailbox next month.

Here in Ireland, there’s a very warm feeling toward the remarkable and unselfish collaborative spirit provided by all of the parking associations. There is much we can learn from each other if we provide pathways for sharing. GPALS is paving the way.


John Walsh, Host of America’s Most Wanted, on Parking

Shawn Conrad

One of my first mentors was a gentleman who coached football, baseball, and any other sport he could sign up for at the local Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 9.13.43 PMelementary and high schools. Big Al was a great big, strong Italian man who had powerful catcher-mitt-sized hands–when he patted you on the back for a job well done, you’d land a few feet forward. We kids didn’t know it, but our coach worked the evening shift at the Congressional Post Office so he could spend daylight hours out on the ball field, teaching us the fundamentals of the game.

The guys I grew up with all respected Al for what he did for us, but also for the things we saw him do for others.  Along with his large frame, Al had a giant-sized heart and constantly looked after the downtrodden and the little guy.  Many times, a kid who didn’t have the means to buy a glove or a pair of cleats found a pair on his doorstep, out of nowhere. He never left a note, but we all knew they came from Al. He also made us call him when we got home safely after games. Those who forgot inevitably heard a knock at their door and knew the coach was standing there, just to make sure.

A flood of memories came rushing back to me this week as I read The Parking Professional’s March cover interview by editor Kim Fernandez featuring John Walsh, the advocate behind the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and host of television’s “America’s Most Wanted.” Most of us know Walsh’s horrific story–his son, Adam, was abducted 34 years ago from a shopping mall in Hollywood, Fla., and killed. It took 27 years before the Walsh family finally had closure and found out who the perpetrator was.

The part of the story you haven’t heard is that John Walsh thinks a trained parking professional may well have made a difference in the way Adam’s case turned out. He shared many great thoughts with us in his interview, but the overriding theme is that parking professionals can be a first line of defense against all sorts of crime in our communities, from burglaries to abductions to terrorism, and he has some concrete thoughts on how that can happen.

Reading this interview reminded me of Al because both men spent the better part of their careers helping their communities be better and safer places to live. Take a few moments to read the March issue and learn more about what Mr. Walsh has to say about the parking industry and the people who maintain and manage our garages and parking lots, and then share the interview with your staff members and talk about how you can put his ideas in place in your own operations. Everyone in the parking industry can play a role in making our neighbors–especially our children–safer in our facilities.



TRB and a Spot for Parking

Shawn Conrad

I have just returned from completing a marathon, but not the kind that involves sweating through 26 miles on foot. This week, the nation’s capital hosted the 92nd Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board (TRB).

The TRB is one of six major divisions of the National Research Council. Its mission is to provide leadership in transportation research and information exchange, conducted in a setting that is objective, interdisciplinary, and multimodal. From the moment I picked up my meeting materials until they closed the exhibits, I heard about a smorgasbord of transportation-related issues and what mobility will look like in the future. Great stuff!

The five-day program included almost 750 sessions and workshops on all aspects of transportation. With topics such as the Department of Transportation’s session on Map 21 Implementation (I will leave this discussion for a future post); Innovations in Statewide Multimodal Planning; Pedestrian Planning, Policy, and Demand Analysis; Nondestructive Hot-Mix Asphalt Testing; and Reducing Traffic by Increasing Passenger Ridership in Cars, Vans, and Transit, there was plenty of information for every transportation professional’s craving.

But what about parking? What about parking operations, management, technology, pricing, transportation demand management, sustainability, financing, or trends? Some of these things were discussed during the event, but let’s be honest: the only proper immersion on these issues happens at the 2013 IPI Conference in Fort Lauderdale, May 19-22. (That’s my plug, but seriously, as one IPI member said as we passed in the hallway at TRB, “Parking is covered at the IPI Conference.”)

That’s not to say that there weren’t very interesting sessions on parking-related topics, because there were. Topics such as parking’s role in congestion reduction, variable pricing, and managing parking at sporting events were addressed.

But possibly the biggest breakthrough discussion centered around parking occurred during the second day of TRB when Josh Kavanagh, CAPP, from the University of Washington made a strong and compelling argument on IPI’s behalf that TRB create a full-fledged parking committee. The interest for a parking committee is certainly at peak level and IPI leaders have offered TRB their time and expertise to making this committee tangible.

I will keep you updated on our progress.

Meanwhile, those in the parking profession should feel empowered about how vital and relevant parking is to transportation. Advancing the profession and increasing awareness for its importance is vital not just to us, but to the greater good.

I’d be interested in hearing your TRB experiences. Comment below or email me.




Shawn Conrad

Our friends at AAA tell us that about 90 percent of U.S. travelers (that’s 39.1 million people) plan to go over the river and through the woods this Thanksgiving in their cars. We know more than anyone that all those cars will be in motion for just part of that time – most of the holiday, they’ll be parked. To aid drivers in the scramble for parking during this busy season, we’ve distributed a news release to consumer media providing parking information, safety tips, and practical advice for holiday shoppers.

We also know that as drivers turn their vehicles into the safe harbor of a parking spot, they probably won’t stop to consider how many parking professionals they have to thank for that remarkable and essential piece of real estate and the industry behind it. So here’s an official thank you from all of us at IPI for your know-how and expertise; without it, we could not connect to our communities, our colleges, our cities, our downtowns, our malls, our museums, our sports stadiums, our entertainment centers, our airports, our hospitals, our retail shops, our residences, our workplaces, or ultimately, our families and friends.

Please count me among those who are thankful for so much at this time of year, and especially for the wonderful people in parking I have the privilege to know.

On behalf of all of us at IPI, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

A Day in the Life of a Parking Professional

Shawn Conrad

What are all the day-to-day tasks involved in being a parking professional?

That’s what we are trying to ascertain with the IPI Parking Job Analysis Survey, which you may have received this week.

This isn’t just another survey–the Job Analysis Survey is particularly important to all of us because it will help us develop a real-world profile of the tasks and responsibilities of parking professionals. That profile will help us better explain the scope of work of our profession to others, and help guide us in developing on-the-mark training and professional development programs within our own ranks.

The difficulty in doing a Job Analysis Survey can be that you really need an extraordinary number of respondents in order for the survey to be truly representative, truly valid. In this day of overburdening emails, too much information, and time constraints, how do you break through the clutter and convince people to take 15 minutes to complete one?

I risked seeming like a wild and crazy optimist when I told our talented and very experienced Job Analysis project consultant, Kate Windom, that I believed our members would surprise her with their response. (Not to brag, but I’m the envy of other association executives when I boast that IPI members in the hundreds fill out our annual call for volunteers.) I knew (hoped!) that I could count on our enthusiastic, thoughtful, and always generous members who were sure to take just 15 minutes to share their thoughts.

Even I was wowed by the response we received to just our first email requesting survey participation. Kate says she’s absolutely never seen anything like it! The response was beyond our wildest dreams!

We still need more. So if you haven’t yet seen an email about the Job Analysis Survey in your mailbox, on IPIs Facebook page, or through the IPI LinkedIn group, please send an email to and ask for a link to the survey. Just write “Job Analysis” in the subject line. You don’t have to be an IPI member to participate. It takes just 15 minutes (every one is a gift to us and to the industry) and you could win an iPad Mini just for responding.

The survey is important in our quest to advance the parking profession and your input is vital.

Hurricane Sandy

Shawn Conrad

IPI’s offices are closed today as we, like much of the Eastern seaboard, prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Sandy. As I write this, forecasters are saying she will be catastrophic–perhaps the largest storm to ever hit the U.S.

We will open again as quickly as possible when Sandy retreats from this area. Until then, much of our staff will be working from home for as long as power remains. Apologies in advance if
a few of your emails or phone calls receive delayed responses.

Our thoughts are with everyone in the path of the hurricane and all who will be affected. It is times like these when I reflect on the meaning of community. The definition I like best is one that defines community as a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. Most of us are fortunate to be part of many different communities, and I am very honored to count the IPI parking community among those most important to me. Stay safe, all!

The Parking Professional and Colin Powell

Shawn Conrad

Inspiration can come from many sources. My inspiration comes from people I meet every day who make the most of their surroundings and those who look for and seize opportunities, like the gentleman on the cover of the August issue of The Parking Professional.

General Colin Powell certainly has made the most of his opportunities. He rose, as he describes  it, from “ordinary circumstances” to serve the United States in many different capacities. Since 1958, Gen. Powell has received 11 military decorations, served as National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State. His devotion to serving did not end when he left public office. Over the past several years, he and his wife, Alma, have devoted themselves to the well-being of children, co-chairing America’s Promise Alliance, a non-profit committed to helping young people succeed.

The general is also a car enthusiast and loves his 19 Corvettes, but that’s not why The Parking Professional sought him out for an interview. As he says in his new book, It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership, then-Secretary of State Powell had a discussion with a group of parking attendants in the State Department’s garage that we at IPI found quite enlightening.

Gen. Powell used the story about the parking attendants to remind people that our actions and how we treat people can have a profound effect on those around us.

I encourage you to read our interview with Gen. Powell in the August issue of The Parking Professional magazine , and if you’re so inclined, pick up a copy of his new book. While we will always remember Gen. Powell for his service to our country, we are also proud that he fully understands why Parking Matters®.

From Puerto Rico: Developing the Second Annual IPI Latin Parking Conference

Shawn Conrad

I just returned from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, which has a rich history dating  back to Christopher Columbus’ second voyage to the Americas in 1493. This diverse series of islands has served as a landing spot for voyagers, adventurers, developers, and individuals seeking the islands’ hidden beauty. What many people don’t know about this gem of the Caribbean is that it is just a few hours’ direct flight from most locations within the U.S., Mexico, Central, and South America.

This December 10-12, the International Parking Institute (IPI), working with a host committee comprised of parking professionals from Puerto Rico, Colombia, Panama, Mexico, Chile, and Peru, will launch our own voyage by hosting the second IPI Latin Parking Conference & Expo, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

While we knew we had strong local interest to bring education and technology to an event to Puerto Rico, my trip to this wonderful place has given me a bird’s eye view of the overall parking landscape. Parking in Puerto Rico is mostly free. That provides many challenges and also many opportunities in communicating with local government officials and with communities. There are many challenges here; IPI is eager to showcase industry best practices and to enable our member experts to share parking management, best practices, and new technologies that could provide a much-needed revenue stream to support municipal, university, and medical center activities.

With assistance from IPI representatives from the Sifontes Group and Desarrollafora LCP, the December Latin Parking Conference will showcase new thinking in managing parking operations, provide for demonstrations of the latest equipment and technology available to the parking and transportation industry, and allow Conference attendees to explore all the beauty that is Puerto Rico. The conference will be presented in English with Spanish translation provided.

Be on the lookout for more information about this event as we continue to expand the borders of why Parking Matters®.

Get Ready for Google Glasses

Shawn Conrad

Here come Google Glasses, “a pair of computerized eyeglasses that streams data onto the lenses in front of your face,” according to Barbara Ortutay of the Associated Press.

Google’s “Project Glass” could be the most revolutionary advancement since the internet, but also the most dangerous obstacle to safe driving since texting. Map directions and available parking could be displayed inside the lenses, just above a driver’s line of sight. This is not some futuristic project, though reports indicate it’s safe to say they will not be available this year. Google has already given prototypes to a select few and Heads Up Displays (HUD) may be coming to our galaxy faster than you might think.

Here’s a video that helps describe how the glasses would work:

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This would be one of Google’s first adventures in the hardware development. Don’t think Apple is far behind, either. According to a Forbes blog, Apple CEO Tim Cook was recently spotted at the headquarters of gaming behemoth VALVE, and a VALVE blogger indicated “wearable computing” is on the company’s radar screen.

Personally, anything this new, creative and technological is something I find exciting and intriguing. I’m afraid to even think of the implications for intrusive advertising. This new technology may give us a whole new view of the world, literally and figuratively. And if everyone starts wearing internet-enabled eyewear, you can be sure one of the things they will be doing at the same time is parking.

Based on the integration of advanced technology into parking over the past few years, I have no doubt this industry has the collective will, brain power, and vision to maximize whatever hi tech innovation is around the corner. Thoughts?

Parking Op-ed in the New York Times

Shawn Conrad

There was an op-ed in the New York Times yesterday by Eran Ben-Joseph, Ph.D., professor of landscape planning and urban planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who has written a new book, ReThinking A Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking. I sent a letter to the editor of the New York Times (below) that supports IPI’s efforts to advance the parking profession. Look for a feature from Dr. Ben-Joseph in the May issue of The Parking Professional. I welcome your comments.

My Letter to Editor of the New York Times:

Thank you to Eran Ben-Joseph for bringing attention to the importance of parking in his New York Times op-ed, “When a Parking Lot is So Much More.”

The Survey of Emerging Trends in Parking conducted by the International Parking Institute last year found that many problems identified with parking facilities today could often have been solved had parking professionals been consulted earlier in the planning process. Well-planned parking can increase use of mass transportation, reduce the number of people commuting, encourage alternative travel methods and better utilize parking through shared use. There is a new generation of parking professionals with diverse expertise in urban planning, public policy, transportation, architecture and engineering who are making significant progress in improving parking through advanced technology, better design, and a focus on sustainability to create more aesthetic and livable communities.

What’s Better Than a Parking Professional?

Shawn Conrad

Q: What’s better than a parking professional?

A: Lots of parking professionals.

I recently heard a group of directors from other associations commiserate about lack of volunteerism and committees that didn’t accomplish anything.That’s not a problem for IPI. Time and time again, I have seen the rewards of collaboration and information sharing that happens during every IPI conference call, committee meeting, gathering, and conference. We are always better together, and we have the most dynamic, eager, generous, and knowledgeable members it’s ever been my pleasure to know.

I’m pleased to welcome you to our shiny new blog, which is going to be all about community. We have a long and impressive list of contributing bloggers as we launch and I anticipate that list will become longer. Posts will cover a full spectrum of topics, touching on every segment of the industry, and will come from all kinds of parking professionals–maybe even you!

I hope you’ll take a minute now to sign up to receive the new Parking Matters® Blog in your email box. Thanks to the immediate-publishing nature of a blog, those who opt for direct updates will likely learn about news of the day and other information before anyone else.

Blog entries on sustainability and perceptions of parking, Twinkies, squirrels, preventing storefront crashes, customer service and other topics are already in the queue, and we’ll feature posts that relate to current events as well.  Have I piqued your interest? I hope so!