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Pay It Forward

Brett Wood

I’m not sure how many of you use Flipboard on your tablet or smartphone, but it’s an amazing source of all kinds of news for any subject you are interested in. For me, it’s all about college football, urban planning, travel, and, of course, parking. The parking news page is everything you could hope for, including industry news, information about municipal/university parking challenges, innovations in parking, etc. Of course, there are always articles and slideshows about how badly people park. That’s my secret obsession—seeing how badly people behave in parking lots and the awesome reactions of their colleagues and neighbors. Seriously, Google “bad parking.” It might not get any better than that.

But the other day, I ran across a great story about humanity in the form of parking tickets. Recently in Australia, a new mother spent several days in the hospital with her sick 9-month old baby. When the child was released, the mother returned to her car to find a parking ticket on her car. But instead of the normal information, she found a note that read:

Hi there, I saw your car had a parking ticket on it. Im sure whatever you are going
through at the hospital is tough enough, so Ive paid it for you. Hope things get better!

You often hear of this concept in other forms: parking meter angels feeding coins into a meter to pay for an expiring transaction; someone buying the food or coffee of the person behind them in a drive-thru line. But this was one of the first times I had heard of someone taking care of a ticket while it still sat on the car. The concept seemed extremely generous and really served to make the new mother’s day a little brighter.

It also got me thinking about the policies and practices of our parking enforcement staffs and decision makers. Why should the new mother have received the ticket in the first place? Well, I’m sure the enforcement program at the hospital was put in place to manage demand and ensure a seamless customer experience. But was there appropriate signage or navigation to show the new mother where to park or how to pay? When the system was designed, did the decision-makers think about how distraught a patient might be upon arrival or that parking might be a very distant afterthought? Were hospital employees instructed to inform the patient about parking policy when they arrived?

Many of these customer service amenities might help to make the parking experience better and alleviate the need to write the ticket in the first place. While the mystery patron was very noble in their payment of the citation, the hospital could also pay it forward by making the parking experience a little easier.

Automated Customer Service

Frank L. Giles

The parking industry seems to be moving at the speed of light. That means fast everything, mobile everything, and automated everything! So what about customer service? What about the gentle greeting of a human cashier? Is it possible to get a top-notch customer service experience at a fully automated parking facility, or is there a tradeoff we must expect when ushering in this new age of hi-tech parking? I believe the former. I believe that the smart parking professional will be able to meet the customer with warmth and gratitude via our new futuristic doodads, but we may have to meet them before they get to the facility.

First of all, there is the obvious stuff. Make sure your customers can reach you. If the customer is paying for parking through a third party on their cell phone or just using their monthly access card to swipe through, it should never be a chore to contact management or get assistance whenever needed (yes, this means day or night). Even if they don’t need to contact you at the moment, it’s comforting to know they can, so contact info should be obvious on any platform.

Secondly give perks. A rewards program, coupons for local retailers, or simply offering safety tips or nuggets of wisdom that change daily, monthly, or by the season will create a connection with the parker The better the connection, the better the customer service.

Finally, respond quickly. When a parker needs to contact management or press that little call button, they are already distressed and as we know, each minute translates to an hour for someone waiting for an answer from parking. These are just some small things we can do so that even when our facility is space-aged, our customer service is still down to earth.

How do you offer top-notch customer service? Comment and let us know.

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?

Should There Be an App for That?

Casey Jones 4x5 (2)

I’ve spent a good bit of time being unhappy about media reports of a new parking application that helps people fight parking tickets. I write and present on parking technology a fair amount and the idea of an app that helps you beat the system rubs me the wrong way. I want technology to solve parking and transportation problems, not let people dodge their responsibility to use parking systems as they are intended. I don’t want it easier for people to fight legitimate and important parking enforcement efforts, especially because we all know that parking chaos often ensues without the right amount of enforcement. This seems akin to Radar detectors thwarting the efforts of law enforcement to maintain safety on our roadways (minus the possibility of horrific car crashes).

The app, called Fixed, recently received a good bit of attention leading up to its launch in the spring. According to a CNN report, here’s how Fixed works: “When someone gets a ticket, they snap a photo of it on their iPhone and enter the violation code. The Fixed app will tell them what percentage of those types of tickets are usually overturned and then show a list of possible reasons it could be found invalid.” The Fixed team does the legal research and advises the parker on their chances for winning an appeal. If the parker wants to file an appeal, they sign an electronic letter (through Fixed) that is sent to the parking provider. Fixed gets a cut of what the citation would have cost if the parker prevails and nothing if the appeal fails.

Okay, so maybe I’m being a little harsh on the Fixed founders. Maybe they aren’t really promoting lawlessness and maybe just maybe there’s some good that can come from an app that helps people fight parking tickets.

I do a considerable amount of consulting and one area I focus a good bit of time on is a client’s parking enforcement program where I look at citations by type, frequency and location. This often reveals some problem that the client is unaware of like inadequate, confusing and contradictory signage. Sometimes the analysis points to a need to adjust pricing, change how parking permits and credentials are allotted, and make adjustments in parking rules, policies, and approaches to parking fines. Perhaps Fixed and other similar apps can be viewed similarly as a means to helping parking programs become less confusing, more informative, and better positioned to help their patrons and guests locate and pay for parking facilities. Rather than look at this type of technology as a threat, perhaps we need to look at it as a way to improve.

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).

Cha-Ching—Chasing after Parking

Wanda Brown

Growing up in St. Mary Parish in Louisiana, I got a chance to see a number of great examples of hospitality toward your neighbor. There was always someone you could call to get a ride (free of charge of course) to go to a doctor’s appointment or to the grocery store or even to church. Little did we know that this hospitality would grow to the tune of a billion-dollar industry.

Already producing billions in revenue, commute options such as Uber ($4.9 billion) are already leading the way in replacing taxi services. After seeing how many new companies are following suit (Lyft, Blablacar, Hallo), it started me to thinking: The larger these options become, what types of shifts might we see in the parking industry? What will happen to the building of new structures and what effect will a reduction have on supporting industries? Could the next generation purchasing fewer cars and deciding not to obtain driver’s licenses be the next big step in a paradigm shift? Will there be less hardware purchases and more software? How will hardware differ from what it is today?

These are questions that came to mind after reviewing software applications such as ParkWhiz ($12m), SpotHero ($7.4 million), Pango ($6.5m), or Parking Panda ($4.7m), which are certainly making access to parking less stressful and establishing themselves as a viable support system to companies that include Uber and Lyft.

With the aging Boomers and the encroaching Millennials, it is almost certain that there will be great demand for such services far into the future—not to mention fewer on the road decreasing CO2 emissions. I heard this morning on the news that insurance companies have already begun providing coverage for these new innovative options, seeing clearly the handwriting on the wall.

What should we be doing then to capitalize on this new trend? Where do these innovative options take us as an industry? What new skills, knowledge, and abilities will be required for this change? Will it further change the way we teach and train our future parking professionals?

I don’t know about you, but I am hoping that as the aging process in my life continues, I can go back to a time in my life where my neighbor is still willing to pick me up (for a small fee, of course).

What if Apple got into the Parking Business?

Dave Feehan

There’s been a lot of speculation in the media recently about Apple’s interest in the auto industry. Some have even suggested that Apple has enough cash on hand to buy GM, Ford, or Fiat Chrysler. Of course, Apple has already tiptoed into the world of autos with CarPlay, which turns your in-car screen into a bigger iPhone screen. So will Apple ever build a car? Stay tuned.

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 2.17.16 PMWhat if Apple decided to get into the parking business? Where would its expertise and formidable design sensibility take it? I doubt that Apple would be interested in parking garages. With pay-by-cell, why would it have any interest in parking meters? And I would be shocked if it ever ventured into the back-end of the parking industry, into revenue control systems and ticket spitters.

But what if Apple’s design principles could be applied to, let’s say, multispace meters. What would they look like? How would they interact with customers?

Several years ago, when my downtown management organization took over full operation of a municipal parking system in a small Midwestern city, I challenged a parking task force of downtown businesspeople to think differently. “What would our system feel like and look like if it were run by Nordstrom,” I asked. (Nordstrom was then considered the ultimate retailer in customer service.) We devised more than three dozen innovations and won numerous awards while seeing an 80 percent drop in customer complaints and a 50 percent increase in revenues. The key was to see the parking system through the eyes of the users – who were, in many cases, women.

(Full disclosure: I’m writing a book on designing downtowns for women.)

So let’s just for fun think about a multispace meter designed by Apple. First, the display would be bright and readable. Many meter displays today are tough to read in bright sunlight, and can be impossible for short customers who see nothing but glare-reflected from above because for them the display is above eye level. Second, it wouldn’t take what seems like an eternity to process a payment and register a license plate or space number. Third, the design would be a work of art.

Perhaps multispace meters are already somewhat obsolete. Several cities I’m working with are moving directly from older meters to pay by cell. But if parking meters are going to be around for a while, maybe instead of asking Apple to design them, we should be asking women.

Urban Engines, the Connected Traveler and Leveraging Parking and Access Management

L. Dennis Burns

Innovation in the form of mobile apps is nothing new. Statistics regarding the number of apps available for download in leading app stores in July 2014 totaled more than 3.1 million! An increasing number of these apps has specific parking and transportation components, and others have a focus on helping us better understand and navigate our favorite urban environments.

BurnsBlogPicA team of former Google employees has begun to merge these key areas creating apps called “Urban Engines.” This exciting development shows early signs of promise for revolutionizing intra-city movement. The app differs from Google maps in certain significant ways. For one, you can drag and drop location and destination pins, allowing the app to instantaneously draw a smart path from place to place. This feature works without exact addresses, so if you’re traveling across town to merely wander, you don’t need to have a destination in mind.

Urban Engines aggregates city transportation options so you can find the most efficient route, whether that be by car, bus, subway, sidewalk, or some combination of all options. These directions are ranked by time, though they may be sorted to minimize distance or maximize use of a certain transportation mode. It also includes offline maps of 10 North American cities—Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, and Washington, D.C.—so residents and visitors need not even have an Internet connection to get around. In addition, the Urban Engines app has a cool X-Ray mode which opens your camera and uses augmented reality to overlay your route on what you’re seeing —city streets, inside the subway or anywhere.

Tech Travel Trends and the Connected Traveler

Mobile devices will be a primary tool allowing the traveler to do their transportation research while on the move in the future. The introduction of new transportation and mobility related apps allows the traveler to be more informed and make better informed choices. A few of the most popular travel apps are:

  • Foursquare: with a custom-created set of must-see locations.
  • TripIt: for the itinerary.
  • Passbook: for hotel bookings.
  • Citymapper: to get the traveler to/from the airport (in the U.K.).
  • Find My Friends: to help travel companions find each other if the group of travelers gets split up.
  • Google Glass: Google’s augmented reality glasses allowing the traveler to capture photos and videos, browse the web, or make calls.

For consumers, online travel and its new world of self-service options have brought convenience, access, speed, and control. The concept of personalizing transportation tools will be vital for the travel, hospitality and, yes, the parking industry going forward. It involves understanding our customers’ needs, preferences, and budget, and then offering custom packages that meet those needs. Allowing our customers to stay highly connected through mobile devices and various apps will be a key to success for parking and transportation programs in the future.

At the upcoming IPI Conference & Expo in Las Vegas this summer, Josh Kavanagh, CAPP, and I will be giving a presentation on “Releasing the Parking Brake: Strategies to Leverage Parking and Access Management as a Tool to Create Local Competitive Advantage.” The innovations described above are just one dimension of this exciting concept. We hope you will attend our session and learn about the full range of options available to enhance your community’s competitive position.

A New Spin on Shared Parking

Brett Wood

The planning side of our industry has actively promoted the concept of shared parking for more than 20 years now. The idea basically states that two or more land uses can share a parking space because their peak utilization patterns will allow for variations in demand. Basically, I need the parking space in the morning, you need it in the afternoon, so let’s build one space and save $20,000. The concept has been wildly successful at mixed use developments and shopping centers, helping right-size parking supply and save precious land.

The concept has and will continue to evolve over time, allowing for better use of limited space. But new trends in our ever-changing world may change the way we define shared parking. In one of my recent posts, I discussed the trends that were changing the transportation and parking industry. One of the defining trends is the idea of shared resources, including ridesharing, carsharing, and bike sharing. All of these trends are well documented, with high-profile providers like Uber, Car 2 Go, and CitiBike making headlines across the country.

What’s not as highly documented is the idea of parking sharing. While the concept isn’t new, it certainly doesn’t get the headlines that Uber does. A coworker of mine in Atlanta recently got a SpotShare app and says it has completely changed the dynamic of how parking is utilized in his residential tower. The app allows residents to donate their spaces when not used, or request spaces for guest parking. What was once a challenging exercise is now an easily managed system. While currently reserved for resident and guest parking, the system has the potential to unlock unused spaces throughout a parking system.

Another example is occurring on the west coast of the U.S., with the Luxe Valet app, which allows motorists to request an on-demand valet (similar in concept to Uber, but for parking your car). The app works by allowing a motorist to request a valet near his or her destination. A meeting space is arranged and the driver arrives, gives the key to the valet, and the car is whisked away to a local facility with pre-arranged parking agreements in place. The motorist is no longer looking for visible public spaces because the valet company has linked them to previously underutilized private space.

Both of these concepts get at the true meaning of shared parking, which is providing parking for destinations without requiring an overabundance of parking assets to support their use. Traditionally, parking was shared among property or business owners as a resource for their customers. However, these trends are shifting the shared parking decision to the user and unlocking a whole new set of possibilities within the parking industry. It may not be too much longer before we can achieve a vision of a fully shared parking systems that doesn’t carry a designation as public or private, just parking.

Technology: Moving at Warp Speed!

Bruce Barclay

To varying degrees, we are wrapped up in a technology-driven society. An example is each time a new iPhone model is released, consumers queue outside Apple stores to be the first to get the latest model. But technological advances are moving beyond smartphones and into more complex arenas.

Take, for example, the automobile. BMW recently demonstrated a car that parks itself at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. A specially equipped BMW i3 was parked by a BMW engineer simply by saying into a smart watch, “BMW, go park yourself.” The engineer then gave another command into the watch, “BMW pick me up,” and the car returned to the engineer. The vehicle did not park itself on a street, but in the multi-level garage of a Las Vegas hotel. Certainly, the transition to driverless cars still has some technology hurdles to overcome, including mapping, but experts say these can be resolved within the next five to 10 years.

A benefactor of driverless cars may be the car share companies, such as Uber and Lyft. Last Monday, Uber announced a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to develop driverless car and mapping technology. The Uber Advance Technologies Center will be built near CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center and the partnership will focus on research and development into “mapping and vehicles safety and autonomy technology.”

I was puzzled when I read this info. Google has invested more than $250 million in Uber. I would have anticipated Uber and Google would partner to bring the latest autonomous driving technology to the masses. With this announcement, it appears Uber may be heading into a competitive scenario with one of its largest investors.

Uber has stated they have been working on their own mapping technology and are simply accelerating development. Since many of these relationships are sensitive by nature, and information is closely guarded, we will have to stay tuned to find out more on the evolving relationships between Uber, CMU, and Google.

For more info on the Uber/Carnegie Mellon partnership, visit:

http://techcrunch.com/2015/02/02/uber-opening-robotics-research-facility-in-pittsburgh-to-build-self-driving-cars/

http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2015/02/02/uber-chases-google-in-self-driving-cars/

You Never Know

Rachel_Yoka 2013

Recently the International Parking Institute (IPI) was invited to participate in a forum for the Smart Card Alliance (SCA) titled, “Convergence of Payment Technology.” Could be rather dry, right?  Well, I was in for a surprise.

Like many meetings with a great diversity of viewpoints and a hot topic, I left with my brain on fire. The opportunity and challenge around this issue is really fascinating. We were able to connect with the folks out in front of this issue, from government agencies dealing with the connected car to private-sector players such as Ridescout who are changing the transportation landscape, and both IPI and the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT) had much to say on the issues at hand.

I had a chance to talk Parking Matters® as well as comment on the role of the garage as a platform for art, architecture, and sustainability. We discussed how changing demographics will affect privacy concerns, the evolving role of big data, and how parking and transportation will play a vital part in creating single accounts and apps for payment from transit to tolls and, of course, for parking.

Once again, I was reminded how much you can learn when your mind (and ears) are open to the possibilities.  Next steps: We are working on a new white paper with the SCA on the impact of EMV chip card technology to our industry … which is just the tip of the technology iceberg.

You Really Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

Bill Smith

I’m 51 years old. I don’t know how old that is in dog years, but I do know that I’m not too old to learn. This was reinforced for me during the past six months as I worked with a brilliant team of branding professionals to put together a new website.

Now, right up front, I need to be honest: my old website stunk. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. It was boring. And because I hadn’t updated it since 2008, it was really outdated too. Ever heard about the cobbler’s kids needing new shoes?

The first thing I learned was that as much as branding is about what you know and what you do (and what you’ve done in the past, of course), it’s just as important to build your brand around who you are. What’s important to you (or your organization)? What do you stand for? Why do you do what you do?

Are you trying to revolutionize the ways parkers work with technology? Are you trying to rewrite the rules for how parking facilities are designed? Are you trying to make communities more sustainable through parking planning? These are your stories. Tell them. In a crowded marketplace filled with excellent engineers or planners or technology providers or parking operators, often, it’s who you are that makes you stand out.

The design process taught me something else: it’s not just about getting new customers; it’s about getting the right customers. Letting your personality and values shine throughout your marketing will help you attract customers and partners with whom you want to work.

Redesigning my website was an illuminating experience. It showed me that I may be an old dog, but I can still learn a few tricks.

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.

Biden, Flying Cars, and IPI, Oh, My!

cropped2014
Biden

Clockwise from top left: Prototype of a flying car; Google’s director of self-driving cars, Chris Urmson with Washington Post editor David Cho; Uber’s David Plouffe; “Easier Parking” panel: Washington Post editor Mary Jordan (at podium) with David Cummins (Xerox) Eric Meyer (Haystack),Rachel Yoka (IPI),and Post urban policy reporter and blogger Emily Badger; and Vice President Joe Biden.

What a day for parking here in D.C.! The Washington Post’s first Answers Series event focused on “Fix My Commute” and included a day-long, live stream, and studio audience of policy makers, wonks, and transportation insiders. Vice President Joe Biden, keynoted the event after introducing himself as Joe “Amtrak” Biden, much to the delight of the Amtrak and rail folks in attendance. See his remarks here. A panel on parking included IPI’s VP Program Development Rachel Yoka, Xerox’s David Cummins (IPI’s Smart Parking Alliance™ co-chair), and Haystack CEO Eric Mayer.

Bravo to David and Rachel for being so articulate about the role of parking, innovative approaches, and sustainability. The Post’s team did a stellar job with an all-star line-up that included mayors from Denver, Honolulu, Miami-Dade, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City, along with former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, now co-chair of Building America’s Future.

Google X’s (the company’s “top secret” innovation arm) Chris Urmson gave a fascinating preview of their self-driving car, including a video of the vehicle being test-driven by friends of developers. There was also a presentation of a prototype of a flying car being “floated” by start-up Terrafugia. (It was parked just outside the theatre where the event was held—on-street and taking up quite a few metered spaces!).

My favorite soundbites:

  • “Thank you for letting me vent” is the most common close to any correspondence sent to columnist Robert Thomson (Dr. Gridlock) from consumers who write to him about D.C. traffic and commuting issues. See a related video shown here.
  • “A car is a freedom machine.” Andrew Card, Former U.S. secretary of transportation and White House chief of staff.
  • “A lot of technology exceeds government’s ability to take advantage of it.” Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.
  • “Transportation is a family’s second biggest expense, after housing.” Joe Biden

During the events, I sat next to Mark Wright, executive director of the Association for Commuter Transportation (ACT), now part of the IPI family. I also had the pleasure of speaking with David Plouffe, the new senior VP of policy and strategy with Uber (very relevant for ACT these days),as well as Liz Jones representing the League of American Bicyclists.

For parking to be so much a part of this national discussion on transportation, I couldn’t help but think, “We’ve come a long way!”

 

 

Are You Prepared For The Phablet Age?

Bill Smith

I’m an early adopter. I love toys, especially electronic ones. For the past few years, my favorites have been made by Apple—my Macbook Pro, iPad, and iPhone. So it should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I’ve already picked up an iPhone 6. I think I showed great restraint by waiting until the second day of release to get one, though!

I’m having a blast playing with my new toy. The bigger screen is easier on this old man’s eyes, and it’s much easier for me to type on. But the thing that stands out mostly for me is how the advent of the phablet (a cross between a smartphone and a tablet) is going to change marketing. Smartphones are nothing more than portable computers, and today’s larger phones with massive screens make them that much more useful for Web browsing and emailing.

If your organization hasn’t adapted to the new world order of phablets, you need to. According to one study, one in three Internet users already does the bulk of his or her surfing via mobile technologies. Organizations that haven’t optimized their online content for mobile users are behind the times and in danger of being left in the dust by their competition.

This is particularly true for parking companies. After all, whose customers are more mobile? Drivers want quick and convenient access to information about parking programs, available parking spaces, and validation—not to mention mobile payment options. But the power of mobile networking goes beyond drivers. City managers, parking owners, and facility operators use their iPads and smart phones to access information about consulting firms, technology companies, and other suppliers.

Desktop computers are so 20th century. If you want to compete in today’s marketplace, your online content needs to be smartphone friendly. Welcome to The Phablet Age!

Data-Driven Performance Improvement Part 2: The Porch

L. Dennis Burns

In my last blog post, I discussed some interesting projects relative to data driven analysis focused on improving performance in the arena of place management. The first example was from the Institute of Place Management in the U.K. Today, I wanted to share another great example of data-driven research as applied to a placemaking initiative known as The Porch at 30th Street Station, in Philadelphia.blog1

The Porch  essentially took a large underused plaza area in front of the city’s 30th Street Station and used a range of affordable placemaking strategies to activate this area. The graphic to the right illustrates the potential population that could be affected in the area.

Replacing what had been 34 parking spaces, this initiative leveraged 54 planters, 45 tables, 184 chairs, 28 umbrellas, 12 loungers, and 23 trees (and a tremendous amount of programming) to transform the area from an unwelcoming site to a place where thousands of pedestrians now congregate and interact every day. The transformation is really quite remarkable!

blog3 blog2Beyond the placemaking work of adding seating, shade, food, plantings, music, and a variety of other activities which have transformed this location, the thing I was most impressed with was the process used for measuring and monitoring the effect of the various elements to drive ongoing performance improvements in the area. Porch ambassadors and planning staff used observations and checklist tools, surveys, behavior mapping, pedestrian tracking, and counts to determine who was using The Porch: How long are they staying? Which furniture do they prefer? How is capacity versus demand at different times? Which amenities are most used?

To learn more about this approach, check out the University City website for more detailed information related to shaping public spaces.

Data-Driven Performance Improvement in Placemaking

L. Dennis Burns

I recently returned from the International Downtown Association (IDA) Annual Conference in Canada’s beautiful capital city of Ottawa. I have had a long and positive association with the IDA and have learned much from my downtown management colleagues through the years. This year was no exception.

Data-driven analysis is nothing new in the consulting or parking worlds, but two presentations at this year’s IDA conference took the application of rigorous data collection and analysis for two very different projects to a new level. I thought I would share these examples with you.lburns1

The first example was from Simon W. Quin, executive director of the Institute of Place Management (IPM) in the U.K. In collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University, the IPM was exploring the performance-forecasting factors related to placemaking. Two hundred one factors were identified and analyzed relative to how much influence each factor has on the vitality and viability of a place and how much control a location has over the factor.

Using a scatter graph to map the factors, some factors either did not have much effect or couldn’t be changed without significant effort or costs. However, 25 key factors were identified as being highly impactful and those for which place managers had a significant degree of control through which they could affect change.

lburns2These factors, which fell into the “Get on with it!” category in the top graphic, include many elements that are important to parking professionals. In particular, the factors of, walkability, accessibility and livability were prominent. Additional factors that could be embraced by parking and transportation professionals included amenities and elements related to the “experience of the place,” such as appearance, attractiveness, safety, and security.

This research effort is just midway into a year-long analysis and I look forward to following it as it evolves. You can learn more by visiting placemanagement.org.

In my next blog post, I will outline another great example of data-driven research as applied to the place making initiative known as “The Porch at 30th Street Station” in Philadelphia. The level of detail involved in the development and refinement of this place making project provides many potential lessons for parking professionals as we begin to embrace place making to improve our customer’s experiences within our facilities and campuses.

Our Changing Industry

Doug Holmes

The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s song starts, “It was 20 years ago today,” but in my case, it was 45 years ago. I, along with several other young people, was selected by Rotary International to represent our respective countries through the Rotary Youth Exchange program, living for a year overseas and being immersed in an entirely different culture.

Fortunately, the country I went to—Sweden—was populated by friendly, outgoing, and caring people; I didn’t understand a lick of their language when I arrived on August 4, 1969. But in 45 years, there has not been a day I haven’t reflected on someone or a place or an event during that year.

How does that relate to the wonderful world of parking? After a 10-year career as a cop, I jumped into parking in 1986. It had to be easier than dealing with drunks, physical altercations, and the mind-numbing process of shift rotations and court days. Nine to five, Monday through Friday, with weekends and holidays off—how hard could it be?

For one thing, parking was a cash-rich environment; back then, there were few computer systems (I had a typewriter on my desk). Tracking that cash was a huge consumer of time. Anyone not inside of the industry had no concept of the dynamics of parking. It was generally an afterthought.

Modernization was slow to start. The highest-tech gadget available was the electronic single-space parking meter. Things such as multi-space parking meters, pay by space, pay on foot, etc., moved forward in Europe, but not here. Thankfully, in the last decade, there has been a revolution in parking technology.

I remember wanting to purchase a PARCS for our operation to link all three of our garages together. I wanted all remote devices hosted on a single network so that I could view real-time activity from my office across campus. Vendors looked at me as if I had a third eye before delivering a lecture on how that was not really what I needed.

Today, the applications of technology seem endless. It has created a new and evolving language we’re all learning. The social effects are astounding. Computer-driven lighting systems and new luminaires are reducing the consumption of electricity and positively affecting the environment.

New materials and construction techniques are extending the lifespans of parking decks. Everywhere we look, the technological revolution that was so long in coming is growing exponentially. GPS applications are locating open spaces for drivers, who pay for parking with their phones. Efficiencies in locating parking, of course, leads to a decrease in gasoline consumption and a reduction in pollution. All of this is good.

A complete change of culture is in swing. In other words, parking is shifting, and rather quickly. Like being plunged into the foreign land of Sweden many years ago, change can be painful or it can be exhilarating, vexatious or liberating.

Welcome to the brave new world of parking.

Can EMV Protect us from Cybercriminals?

Bruce Barclay

By now, we have all heard of the upcoming transition to “smart chip” technology for credit cards. The U.S. is one of the last countries to move to EMV chip technology–we are in year two of a four-year plan for the migration, with a target date of October 2015 for card issuers and merchants to complete their implementation of EMV chip cards, terminals, and processing systems.

The migration cannot come soon enough for many consumers. Consider the Target breach from November/December 2013. Target said the attackers gained access to customer names, credit card/debit numbers, expiration dates, and CVV security codes. The Wall Street Journal reported the thieves accessed the data from the magnetic stripes on the back of credit and debit cards. Would this have been the case if the U.S. was already using chip technology?  Experts say no.

At a recent Congressional Subcommittee hearing, Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance, testified about cybercrime in the U.S. In 2013, data breaches became more damaging, with one in three people receiving a data breach notification letter. This is up from one in four during 2012. The increase in cybercrime against retailers is partly due to the fact that magnetic stripe card information is valuable to hackers.

The black market price for several million card accounts stolen from the Target breach was between $26.60 and $44.80 each prior to December 19, 2013. EMV chip cards can reduce financial cybercrime by removing the economic incentive for criminals. Once we replace magnetic stripe cards with EMV chip cards, the risks of duplicated data and counterfeit credit cards will become a thing of the past.

IPI’s webinar, EMV and its Effect on the Parking Industry, will take place today at 2:00 p.m. EST. Sign up and plan to take part. Click here to read Vanderhoof’s testimony.

 

 

The Solar Parking Lot

Isaiah Mouw

The Wright Brothers started in a garage. Amazon started in a garage. Hewlett Packard and Disney both started in garages. Mattel started in a garage. The Ramones started in a garage. And the world’s first solar roadway started in a… parking lot. The Solar Roadways team just finished up the world’s first solar parking lot.

Scott and Julie Brusaw stand beside the Solar Roadways prototype parking lot

Scott and Julie Brusaw stand beside the Solar Roadways prototype parking lot

You might remember Scott and Julie Brusaw from their presentation at the 2013 IPI Conference &Expo or the feature in the February 2013 issue of The Parking Professional. They told us of their dreams to pave the world’s highways with high-tech solar panel roadways. Their purpose is to replace our nation’s deteriorating highway infrastructure and crumbling power grid with an intelligent highway system that pays for itself through the generation of electricity and doubles as an intelligent, self-healing, decentralized power grid. With the completion of this parking lot, they are one step closer to their dream.

“One of the biggest challenges of this phase was to explore and test various glass surfaces and textures and test them for strength, traction, and durability and all test results have exceeded our expectations. In addition to the solar cells, the panels contain heaters to keep them snow and ice free and LED lights for road lines and verbiage”, says Scott Brusaw. You can check out the pictures of the prototype parking lot here.

The parking industry can once again lead the way by donating to Solar Roadways’ Indiegogo crowdsource fundraising campaign which goes live on Earth Day (April 22). They plan to raise funds to be used to hire a team, plan for production and gear up for manufacturing, one parking lot at a time. It’s a fascinating project, and I’ll report back as new developments arise.

Evolution

Dave Feehan

In parking, as in life, the best usually prevails–but not always.

When automobiles first came on the scene, gasoline-powered cars competed with electrics, steamers, and diesels. Eventually, gasoline won out, although electric-powered cars are more efficient and both steam- and diesel-powered engines produce more torque. Essentially, gasoline’s convenience that won the day.

Consider recorded music: We evolved from 8-tracks to cassettes, CDs, and now to iPods and cloud storage.

In video, VHS won out over Betamax, and Blu-ray defeated HD DVD. Was VHS better? Is Blu-ray really better? Some would argue that the defeated technologies were actually superior.

So, which technology will dominate the parking meter field in years to come? They all pretty much accept credit cards, so that’s a settled issue. But is pay-by-space, pay-and display, or pay-by-plate better? Are multi-space meters better than single-space? Will meters as we know them be made obsolete by pay-by-cell?

I asked a handful of IPI members I consider leading experts, and they pretty much all agreed that pay-by-cell is the single unifying technology that will dominate. But in the meantime, what should a city, parking authority, or private entity do to provide customers with the most efficient and customer-friendly–or at least the least annoying–form of parking meter?

Pay-and-display has the largest market share in the U.S. and Europe. Customers like the portability of pay-by-space; they’re buying time, not a particular space. The big drawback is that it makes pay-by-cell difficult. Pay-by-space has its proponents, but it can be tricky in cold-weather cities where snow makes for real problems. Pay-by-plate has made some inroads, but it too has problems in cold-weather cities and with U.S. license plates that are not always linear.

The jury is still out. The gripes I hear from customers are not so much related to which type of meter, but to meters that seem to take forever to process information and print receipts, screens that are difficult to read or are poorly placed, and kiosks that are badly signed or hidden by other street elements. A well-designed meter that is easy to read, fast to process, and conveniently located–and that accepts pay-by-cell–is still the best choice.

The New Kid at the Auto Show

Christina Onesirosan Martinez

“You are going where?”

“The LA Auto Show.”

“But I thought you worked in parking.”

“ I do.”

So went a recent conversation with a friend who, coincidentally, used to design booths for auto shows.  He couldn’t believe there would be any interest in parking at the big one in Los Angeles. My response to him was to evoke a famous Bob Dylan track: The Times They Are a-Changin’.

One of the major trends for 2013 has been the connected car. Parking seems to not only fit extremely well into this trend, but is establishing itself as one of the essential elements.

We saw a glimpse of this back in September at the Frankfurt Auto Show, where European automakers showcased their leading technology. You guessed it, parking was there!

At the LA Auto Show, it became very clear that the automotive world sees parking as a very logical addition to navigation systems, and that these systems are fast gaining momentum toward being a standard in-car feature.

As Paul Asel, managing partner of Nokia Growth Partners, commented, “New auto technologies adopted in the next few years have the potential to alter our driving experience more than at any time in the past 50 years. The LA Auto Show offered a glimpse of what the next few years may offer. Much more is yet to come.”

Whether you operate a parking lot, provide parking information through a website or app, or manage payments and/or reservations, the auto world is ready to knock on your door.

 

Real-Time Pricing in the Real World

Christina Onesirosan Martinez

The last few years have seen a real explosion in terms of the number of people using mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. As we know, the mobile industry is a fascinating, fast-paced environment where technologies, devices, and companies change every day.

Love them, or hate them, mobile devices are here to stay. So, as is the case with your mother-in-law, you just have to get on with it and embrace them.

It is crucial for parking operators to keep pricing information as up to date as possible because like it or not, many drivers make decisions based on price, and there is nothing worse than arriving at your chosen destination and realizing that the space will now cost you more.

Many of you will scream, “No, constant price changes are not convenient for the driver! They create confusion!” Some of you will be in agreement that dynamic pricing allows for better yield management, which in turn optimizes revenue.

Those in the “green” corner have realized that up-to-date pricing achieves the goal of opening up spaces, reducing unnecessary driving around. This has been seen in San Francisco, where intentionally raised on-street prices (on high-demand blocks) are steering drivers to park on another street or in a neighboring parking lot, opening up prime street spots.

Still not convinced? I’ll leave you with a story that illustrates the value of distributing real-time information about parking pricing:

The operator of a parking lot at a railway station recently agreed to a price change whereby drivers leaving their cars at the station parking lot and continuing their journey by train were entitled to a discount of nearly 50 percent on the posted daily parking rate. All they had to do was purchase the ticket at the counter instead of at the payment machine or online. But this information wasn’t conveyed to customers in real time (as it would be via mobile), and 99 percent of the drivers there didn’t know about it.

The operator is still receiving complaints three weeks later.

 

WikiLots

Mark Wright

Mark Zuckerberg sent me a check the other day, enclosed in a thank-you card that read, “Thanks for your data. Here’s our royalty payment for its use. Keep up the good work. BTW, I’m wearing an Edward Snowden mask to this year’s FB company Halloween party. Bwaahaahaa.”

Then I awoke and realized it was all a dream. Nobody’s paying me for access to my personal information. Darn.

It was still early, so I went back to sleep.

Then Julian Assange texted me. His message read: “We believe everyone has a right to free parking. So, we’ve started a website called WikiLots, which will locate and aggregate your vehicle’s parked location 24/7, using data already being broadcast by your vehicle and augmented by fixed and mobile cameras (typically plate-reader-equipped police cars). WikiLots will set the world free, free, free…”

Then I awoke and realized it was all a nightmare. Nobody cares or tracks where I drive or park, do they? Nah.

In real life, I read this recent article in the Wall Street Journal (When Your Car Is Spying on You) in which Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., observes that Nissan plans to have affordable driverless vehicles on the market in 2020. Those vehicles, he says, will automatically share a lot of data about us.

“Nothing is stopping private operators from creating databases of plate numbers, faces, and identities — cross referenced by matching photos you and others post online on your Facebook profiles and elsewhere. These will be indexed by place of residence. Stores will know who you are the minute their cameras catch your plate arriving in their parking lots.”

That means a row full of occupied parking spaces is basically just data on a stick. It’s a yummy treat for any entity — corporate or government — with a sweet tooth for information about who we are, what we do, where we go and what we like.

What role should parking play as this new era of über-data dawns? Is the parking profession meant to promote its benefits or defend users against its excesses? Are parking pros destined to be proactive participants or passive bystanders in this trend?

It’s still early. Sleep is so tempting — yet suddenly so elusive.

 

Solar Roadways Make Headlines

Isaiah Mouw

Remember Solar Roadways from the general session presentation at the 2013 IPI Conference and Expo in Ft. Lauderdale? Scott and Julie Brusaw, inventors and co-founders of Solar Roadways, introduced their concept of solar road panels and what they can do for the parking industry and the world (click here to read the feature about their project in The Parking Professional). If you had the opportunity to sit in on the presentation, you witnessed something special. And now, the little company with big aspirations is moving closer to fulfilling those aspirations.

Just this week the Brusaws announced on their Facebook page that they were “chosen by our peers as a finalist in the World Technology Awards in the category of Energy. We are amazed to find ourselves in the company of so many remarkable people. Some of the other finalists in various categories include: Mark Zuckerberg, Sal Khan, Andreessen Horowitz, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, Bill and Melinda Gates and Elon Musk. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in N.Y. in November. Our selection as finalists means that we are now Fellows of the World Technology Network. What an honor!”

There’s more news, too: Solar Roadways’ short documentary directed by Michele Ohayon, which was shown at the 2013 IPI Conference & Expo, will be featured at the Big Eddy film festival in New York on September 21. You might even be on a date with your significant other and have this short documentary shown at the movie theatre before your movie starts. That’s because thanks to a partnership with Spotlight Cinema Network, the Solar Roadways documentary will screen before features at all Regency and Landmark Theatres between August 23 and September 19.

The Brusaws hope to pave the world with solar panel roadways, but it all begins with a parking lot. It’s pretty cool that we all saw the inception of this movement. What can parking professionals do to support their work? You can help spread the word on social media. I am a big fan of TED Talks and think that Scott Brusaw would make an excellent TED speaker. You can nominate him here as a TED Speaker. I think it would speak volumes if parking professionals helped get him chosen, to help further their message and concept of Solar Roadways.

There’s more ahead for solar roads and parking lots. Stay tuned!