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The Future of Parking and Urban Mobility: A UK Perspective

Christina Onesirosan Martinez

Earlier this year, The British Parking Association (BPA) decided to launch a special interest group to tackle an area that was rapidly gaining momentum: urban mobility. More specifically, the group was asked to look at where parking fits into this area, if anywhere at all!

Reporting to the BPA’s Operational Services Board, we are a small group with representation from commercial operators, municipalities, suppliers, and academia. It is proposed that we are more flexible than a special interest group and our group may even have a limited lifespan. As a result, lively discussions soon arise during our meetings! We meet on an ad-hoc basis with meetings called as required.

This somewhat non-traditional arrangement, we hope, will help us successfully achieve the group’s main objective: To provide a forum for a broad cross-section of members and interested parties to examine key issues surrounding the future of technology in relation to parking and the wider issues affecting the profession as a result of its use.

From our 1st meeting, one common message soon became our unofficial motto when discussing technology in relation to parking and urban mobility: one size does not fit all

Groups such as ours should be very clear when making recommendations on how technology can be integrated at various levels of an organization. The “one size does not fit all” approach should be made crystal clear. (Parking technology suppliers—are you listening?)

By creating useful documents such as a top-10 list of technologies being used with their associated pros and cons, our group aims to be the friendly face of technology.

Our draft terms of reference are clear:

  1. Inform members about trends and changes in new and emerging technology and innovations and advise on current government intentions with regard to the use of technology.
  2. Provide and deliver a platform for members and other stakeholders who are experimenting with new approaches in technology to share their experience openly and widely.
  3. Develop knowledge sharing and develop ideas and best practices in the field of technology, innovation and future parking trends.
  4. Inform and influence government about current and emerging technology, creating trust at both local and national levels.
  5. Identify collaboration opportunities with like-minded organizations, encouraging and fostering good working relationships between parking, traffic management, and urban planning sectors.
  6. Identify areas where change will take place and seek to stimulate debate and discussion and publicize the work of the BPA and its members.

If you, like me, are regularly asked the following questions, you will no doubt agree that this group will be kept busy:

  •  Does my parking lot really need an app for reservations? What type? Are there different types?
  • What is the role of parking in urban mobility and traffic management?
  • How will technology impact my current commercial models?
  • As mobility and technology changes and develops, do we need to re-envisage what the parking sector represents and re-focus on enabling mobility rather than being perceived to restrict/enforce?
  • What role does parking have in the smart cities and multi modal journeys/inter-connected journeys?

5:E NORDISKA PARKERINGSKONFERENSEN

Casey Jones 4x5 (2)

jonesblog3In Swedish, 5:E NORDISKA PARKERINGSKONFERENSEN translates to the 5th Nordic Parking Conference. This gathering of just fewer than 500 attendees and 50 exhibitors from 17 different countries took place last week in beautiful Stockholm, Sweden, presented by the Swedish Parking Association, SvePark. Though the many languages spoken there are unique to our own, the topics and interest in continuing to make progress in our industry is universal. The theme of this conference is innovation and I delivered a presentation on the future of parking.

In looking to the future and what it will hold for our industry, I start with a look back. It’s important that we recognize while we’ve made progress, our parking public may not yet have forgotten about our old ways of doing things. It’s not been that long ago that the technology we offered was no more sophisticated than a metal box with slots cut in it for inserting cash, and we often built parking garages that were inhospitable to the patron and degraded external surroundings with poor design. Our singular focus seemed to be about parking cars, less so on serving the people and businesses relaying on access to our parking facilities, and seldom, if ever, did we acknowledge our part in protecting the environment and engaging the communities we serve. Thankfully things have changed.

Our future is indeed bright because: 1) we now view our role as a service industry; 2) we embrace and advance technology to improve customer service, operational efficiency, and revenue control; 3) we are active in contributing to economic, environmental, and social sustainability; and 4) we’ve broadened our focus to include all modes of travel, not just single-occupancy vehicles.

Jonesblog1It’s a good thing we’re open to new ways of thinking. In my talk I included four converging factors that our industry must be mindful of if we’re to continue making positive strides in the years to come. These include: 1) the continued urbanization of the world; 2) changing attitudes toward owning and driving private vehicles; 3) the decreasing cost of smartphone computing; and 4) the emergence of big data and increasingly sophisticated transportation algorithms that will help us facilitate more efficient use of transportation infrastructure, including parking resources.

jonesblog2After my talk, I realized that I’d forgotten one major key to our continued success: strengthening our global parking community. By sharing our experiences, both good and bad, we are able to learn, innovate, and celebrate our successes. This promotes the collaboration necessary for a vibrant, expanding, and critical industry in which to grow and succeed.

Tack (Swedish for thanks).

In Sickness and In Health

Christina Onesirosan Martinez

Hospital parking has long been an area of intense discussion among parking professionals across the U.K. Last month, the Department of Health issued a comprehensive parking guidelines document—a Health Technical Memoranda (HTMs) that gives comprehensive advice and guidance on the design, installation, and operation of specialized building and engineering technology used in the delivery of healthcare.

Its recommendations to healthcare parking facility managers include:

  • Consider installing pay-on-exit systems so drivers pay only for the time they have used.
  • Remember that you are responsible for the actions of private contractors who run parking lots on your behalf.
  • Avoid awarding contracts that are based on incentivizing issuing parking charge notices.

As a member of the British Parking Association (BPA), I find myself asking why it has taken so long for this document to have been created. As early as 2010, the BPA published its Healthcare Parking Charter, which aimed to strike the right balance between being fair to patients, visitors, and staff, ensuring facilities are managed effectively for the good of everyone.

The Charter, aimed at both managers of healthcare facilities and parking lot operators, emphasized the need to recognize the importance of parking policy in terms of the wider transport strategy and the need to manage traffic and parking in line with demand and environmental needs.

It also tackled that age-old conundrum linked to hospital parking: Free or not free?

While many people expect hospital parking to be free, the limits on space, costs involved, and demand for spaces means it needs to be managed properly. Often the most effective way to do this is by charging for parking.

I am pleased to see the issue of effective hospital parking policy finally get the recognition it deserves and am convinced that the work taking place in the U.K. could serve as a good blueprint for healthcare parking facility managers around the word.

Let me leave you with quotes from some recent press coverage that highlight the complexity of the situation:

The good:

Yeovil District Hospital has streamlined parking operations by removing the original barrier system at its main car park and replacing it with an ANPR system, to relieve congestion.

The ANPR system and its associated signage has been installed at two locations in the 145-space P1 car park in the car parks. A second car park (P2) has been created consisting of 43 spaces and three ambulance waiting zones. The system allows visitors a number of payment options including at a machine, phone payment or online. Card payments can also be made on site.

The bad:

Nursing staff have collected thousands of signatures on a petition calling for more parking provision at the soon to be opened £842m South Glasgow Hospitals campus.

Anne Thomson, Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Senior Officer for Greater Glasgow, said: If nurses and others cant get to work in time for their shifts because parking and public transport are inadequate, the care the hospital offers will be undermined.

We have repeatedly pressed the health board and council for solutions to this, but with only a few weeks to go, our members still dont know how they are going to get to work. And some will have to set off the night before their 8.30am shift if they are to get to work on time via public transport, which is clearly ludicrous.

The ugly:

A Good Samaritan who drove a cancer patient to Queen Alexandra hospital was targeted by an overzealous parking attendant and slapped with a £100 parking fine. Wecock community volunteer Ann Waters took Gillian Patterson, her 67-year-old friend and neighbour, to the hospital for a consultation about ongoing treatment for bowel and breast cancer.

While they were waiting Ann realised the appointment could overrun, so she nipped back to their mini-van to buy additional parking time. But to her amazement she found she had already been issued with a parking notice despite the fact the ticket had not expired. The mini-van windscreen had a narrow black border around its edge, which had partly obscured a small part of the parking ticket. She asked for a copy of the photographic evidence, but the firm completely ignored her.

Is Parking Really Different Elsewhere?

Bruce Barclay

From time to time, I have asked myself, “Is parking that much different in other countries?” The International Parking Institute (IPI) holds an International Parking Conference each year, most recently in Cali Colombia, so there must be common ground in order for the conference to be as successful as it has become. PARCS manufacturers are global companies, each having an international presence. With each question I asked, I realized more questions remained. Despite the differences in language, culture, and government rules and regulations, parking around the world may be similar and different at the same time.

I decided to do a quick inquiry into different parts of the world. I looked at the city of my birth—Dundee, Scotland—and New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. I relied on input from fellow IPI member and CAPP candidate Mark Jameson, who lives in Wellington, New Zealand.

I started with Dundee and found a document on the City of Dundee’s website titled Parking Annual Report 2014, A few interesting items were noted that are almost identical to the issues we face in the U.S., but there are twists:

  • One change made in response to the review was upgrading pay-and-display parking meters, eliminating the need for coins as payment. A parker can park his car, walk to the pay-and-display machine, press a button on the device, send a text message from their phone, and the machine will print a receipt to display. This technology is very user-friendly with no need to set up any accounts in advance. If you have a phone, you have a payment method.
  • Dundee City introduced license plate recognition (LPR) at most of the car parks, allowing automatic entry and exit for resident permit holders and monthly parkers. Wellington uses LPR in garages similar to Dundee, and also for enforcement.
  • Enforcement within the City of Dundee is a challenge due to various restrictions.  An interim phase was added to the enforcement process. In lieu of a citation, the enforcement officer provides a warning notice. Repeat offenders get citations. I am not aware of many cities issuing a courtesy notice to parking violators, but there may be some.
  • Service improvements in Dundee over the course of the year included:
    •  Cashless payment service where parking can be paid for over the phone or via a mobile phone app.
    • The introduction of electric enforcement vehicles has allowed parking enforcement officers to provide more effective enforcement in areas preciously patrolled on foot.
    • One innovation that I thought was quite innovative was the use of body worn cameras (BWC) by enforcement officers. The purpose is to document abuse of enforcement officers by the public.  Since the introduction, the number of incidents of abuse against officers has reduced dramatically.
    • Wellington uses embedded sensors in the parking stalls of the CBD. The sensors allow a parker to use a mobile app to pay for parking and find available parking close to their parking destination.  An added benefit in Wellington is compliance enforcement.

I must admit that after my inquiry, parking is more universal than I had perceived. Terminology may be a little different, but the technology, concepts, and practices remain similar.

U.K. Drivers Enjoy New Parking Resource

Christina Onesirosan Martinez

Research commissioned by the British Parking Authority showed that nearly 24.7 million motorists in the U.K. believe parking rules and regulations are extremely confusing. Half are unaware of their parking rights, and an astonishing one in 10 does not know the difference  between the rules for parking in a municipality lot versus a private parking lot.

The recently launched "Know Your Parking Rights" initiative provides trusted information to motorists who want to understand parking.

The recently launched “Know Your Parking Rights” initiative provides trusted information to motorists who want to understand parking.

How many times have you heard a customer say (or how many times have you said), “I had no idea you couldn’t park here,” or, “Is that citation really legal?”

Drivers often become frustrated because they don’t fully understanding parking do’s and don’ts from both a practical and a legal perspective. How many of us can confidently say we know our responsibilities and rights as a motorist?

Without clear guidance and awareness, frustration and conflict often arise between drivers and parking authorities/lot operators.

The recently launched Know Your Parking Rights initiative wants to be a beacon of light and clarity by providing trusted information to motorists who want to understand parking.

The initiative aims to give clear advice on:

  •  What to do if you receive a parking ticket.
  • What signs to look out for and what they mean.
  • Useful facts about the appeals process.

An easy-to-use website provides drivers with an option to download the Know Your Parking Rights Consumer Guide for information and best practice on parking.

With a bit of common sense and a visit to this new website, motorists in the UK should have all they need to avoid parking fines this holiday season.

Raising Standards in the UK

Patrick headshot 2012 cropped

There is so much happening in the parking world at the moment that it’s hard to catch one’s breath.

The British government is pressing ahead with its plans for local authority parking, the Daily Mail has kicked off a summer offensive against the private parking sector, the Royal Mint is poised to launch a consultation on the new £1 coin, and Park Mark reaches the ripe old age of 10—to name but a few.

There is a link, though, between all these events, and it’s not just that they all have something to do with parking. They throw down a challenge to the parking profession in general and the British Parking Association (BPA) in particular to demonstrate our resilience in putting the other side of the argument and our commitment to drive standards in parking ever higher.

So we have successfully persuaded government not to ban CCTV outright but rather to allow its continued use in specific circumstances; we have shown through establishing Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA) and renewing the Code of Practice on Parking on Private Land that Daily Mail readers who are recipients of parking tickets have an independent means of redress against those tickets; we are directly involved with the Mint prior to its formal consultation so we can shape and influence policy on behalf of our members; and through Park Mark, we can demonstrate we really are serious about raising standards and not just talking about raising standards.

We are going to talk more about raising standards though during the autumn as we try to engage with members on how to develop a Professionalism in Parking Award for all sectors to continue to drive those standards still higher. We need to demonstrate to government, media, and stakeholders that we can do it so we have the tools and the commitment to tackle future onslaughts in the future. That’s why lots of things happening is a good thing if at the end of them you come out on top.

I believe the parking profession can come out on top if it truly believes in raising standards in every part of its make up.

New British Proposals Affect Parking

Patrick headshot 2012 cropped

As you enjoy  your summer holiday, you are (wisely) probably not thinking too much about the challenge of the British government’s proposals on local authority parking, which they published in late June. But I’m afraid those days of sun and sea will soon pass and our focus will be back on the job!

Following significant lobbying by the British Parking Association (BPA) and other organizations, including the Local Government Associations and London Councils as well as individual local authorities, we succeeded in persuading the government that banning closed-circuit television (CCTV) in its entirety was throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  At least the Transport Minister saw sense and has ensured, in the publication of his response to the consultation, that he intends to permit CCTV to continue to be used, but only in specific circumstances of his choosing.

The BPA will lobby on our members’ behalf to ensure that CCTV can continue to be used in the circumstances for which it was intended, namely to relieve congestion on our streets and improve road safety.  We will be working over the summer with members of the House of Lords as the Deregulation Bill, which the government amended in June, makes its way through the Lords on its way to Royal Assent, probably at the end of the year.

There are many uncertainties at present around how the government’s proposals will turn out, and there are a number of opportunities to improve the position from the perspective of local authorities and the wider parking profession, at the same time ensuring that we place the consumer at the heart of our thinking.

The most extraordinary outcome from the government’s published response is that the responsibilities for implementing these changes are shared between the Department for Transport and the Department for Communities and Local Government.  When a government is at loggerheads with itself, organizations such as the BPA must redouble their efforts to deal with two sets of officials and two sets of Ministers.

I do hope that the government is united in developing these proposals as fractures within the policy- and law-making organizations does not make for good legislation, and, as we know, in other circumstances bad legislation can make life very difficult for those who have to implement and enforce it.

I hop you will put in your diary the date of our Annual Conference in October, where we will have very interesting and, I hope, constructive debates about where we have been on this subject and where we are going in the future.

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 parking.org/gpals.

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.

 

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.

Parking Matters® in Korea and Beyond

Rachael Yoka

People in the U.S. used to be worried when Mike Wallace of CBS’ 60 Minutes called for an in-depth interview. It often meant trouble. But, nothing could have been further from the truth when the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) recently knocked at our door with an invitation to feature Tim Haahs on a television news program in Korea. The documentary that resulted is one we are very excited about because beyond Tim’s accomplishments, the segment  explores the complexity and relevance of parking and transportation to the design of cities, both here and abroad.

In producing the documentary, KBS visited IPI headquarters and interviewed IPI Executive Director Shawn Conrad, CAE, on the role and evolution of parking. Since the airing of the show, we have received numerous inquiries about it and our transportation system. People, businesses, and governments are intrigued and challenged by parking and transportation issues and their effects on sustainability and economic development.

The world is watching, and listening, for what’s next in our industry. IPI and its members are responding to those by expanding our reach into international markets and forums in Asia, Europe, and Central and South America. We can’t wait to see what those partnerships and discussions will bring! For now, enjoy the video and let us know what you think in the comments.

 

 

Parking: Coming of Age

L. Dennis Burns

Has big business finally found its way to parking? Consider the following:

  •  3M has acquired Federal APD (PARCS), PIPS (LPR), Sirit (AVI), and VES (a toll service provider located in southern California). 3M currently operates a division that focuses on transportation, but this is significant entre’ into the parking industry.
  • Affiliated Computer Systems (ACS) became part of Xerox which also has a transportation division that includes commercial vehicle operations, electronic toll collections, motor vehicle services, on/off street parking, photo enforcement, public transport, and transportation management.
  • Serco (the largest company you’ve never heard of) is the systems integrator behind the SFpark program.
  • Zeag, which recently acquired Magnetic Corporation, was recently acquired by a large Swiss company.

Initially, I worried that this could be the end of innovation and the beginning of a new corporate mentality that might become pervasive, but then these negative thoughts were drowned out by the following:

  • This investment in our industry is a reflection of the fact that parking is being recognized for the important industry that it’s become.
  • New investment from large multi-national corporations will mean new advancements for the whole industry.
  • The effect of thought leaders such as Don Shoup, Casey Jones, CAPP, and others has created new awareness and spurred huge government investments through agencies such as FHWA and others.
  • Innovative governmental agencies such as the Seattle Department of Transportation and the Washington D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT) are moving forward with creative research and implementation programs even without big federal grants.
  • Transportation planners and transportation demand management (TDM) professionals are becoming more engaged with parking industry practitioners to create new partnerships.
  • Universities are beginning to create sustainable transportation degree programs.
  • The number of smaller technology-based start-ups are increasing and interest by venture capitalists is increasing.

After some reflection, it seems to me we are on the verge a whole new era of growth and advancement. But then, I am always so negative.

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®.